First Person Accounts (FPA’s) are meant to provide a first-hand account of law graduates who have pursued, or are pursuing, a post-graduate course (LL.M. or otherwise) from different universities across the world.

Vidya Madhusudhan is a current LL.M. candidate at Maastricht University’s Faculty of Law, specialising in Corporate and Commercial Law. A graduate of Karnataka State Law University (BA LLB 2018), Vidya discusses the process of shortlisting just where to apply, what attracted her to Maastricht University, writing a good personal statement, and a whole lot more.

(Edited excerpts)

Since you enrolled for the LLM right after your undergrad, when did you start the application process itself? 

The application period opens in mid-October for Maastricht University and for the Netherlands in general, so I think I applied by the last week of October.

How did you go about selecting just where to apply? What were some of the schools you shortlisted, and what made you narrow down on Maastricht? 

I started researching toward the end of my third year of Bachelors of Law and decided to use a few criteria to consider while deciding which universities to apply to.  Some of them were the course content, the reputation of the faculty and faculty members, the system of education, how international student friendly the university/country was etc. I decided to see the ranking only after I shortlisted the Universities and not the other way around.

“I decided to see the ranking only after I shortlisted the Universities and not the other way around.”

I chose Maastricht University because of the PBL system that they use in the tutorials as I feel it is the best way of self-learning and learning from your peers. Maastricht University also has a well-reputed law faculty, it is very friendly to international students, and the city is beautiful like all other Dutch cities.

Also, any advice on the application process itself, for instance on writing personal statements, sourcing letters of recommendation etc?

The Personal Statement is a way of them getting to know who we are and what are aspirations are. Our marks are not everything or who we are. The best way to write one is to note down your own thoughts about yourself in brief and then refine it to fit the requirements.

Mine was totally unique and I did not go by samples on the internet as none of them reflected my story. I do believe that it makes a lot of difference to our application. I think like all other universities, Maastricht University admissions office is looking to know who a person is, their background, their inspiration to pick up a particular line of study and why they want to pursue a particular course here, and how it will be beneficial to them in the future. I think keeping all this in mind while drafting a personal statement is crucial.

“Like all other universities, Maastricht University admissions office is looking to know who a person is, their background, their inspiration to pick up a particular line of study and why they want to pursue a particular course here, and how it will be beneficial to them in the future.”

While looking for someone to recommend you, it is important that you approach someone who knows you and what you have done over the course of your undergraduate degree is very important. I got two letters of recommendation from Professors in my college who knew me from the first year of law school and one from my senior at my internship as had I interned directly under him for one and a half years and he was aware of my work and me as an individual.

It is very important that you have all the documents ready by September of the year in which you intend to apply as most applications begin by September/October every year for the following September intake.

Did you apply for/receive financial aid? 

No, my parents funded my education.

Was there an option of moving to another specialisation once you had enrolled? What attracted you to the Corporate & Commercial law specialisation at Maastricht University?

Yes, it was definitely an option to change my specialisation once I was enrolled at Maastricht University. I found that all the course coordinators/Professors were well-reputed in their own fields, they had excellent in-depth knowledge in their field of expertise, I was allowed to choose courses that were of interest to me, thus it made it easy for me to tailor-make my courses within the field of Corporate and Commercial law.

“I was allowed to choose courses that were of interest to me, thus it made it easy for me to tailor-make my courses within the field of Corporate and Commercial law.”

UM also has events where you can network with various people in the industry, the UM career services gives you inputs on your CV and cover letter, and also has an option where you can have a mock interview and get feedback about it.

How has the LLM experience been thus far? Any highlights along the way?

The experience has far exceeded my expectations as I grew personally and professionally in the past one year. I have had so many experiences and learnt things that I will always use in the future.

One major highlight would be the system of learning in Maastricht as I realised that this system was best suited to me and I loved studying and learning in the Maastricht University PBL system.

Could you also tell me a bit about the Premium programme that you are also a part of?

The Premium programme is an Honours Programme at Maastricht University. There is a multistep selection process. Once selected, you are allotted a real-life project in a Company/Organisation along with a team which is interdisciplinary in nature.

You have a mentor and a coach who help you along the course of the project. The mentor guides you and the team throughout the project and gives you very valuable insights when needed, and the coach helps you to develop yourself personally.

Along with that, you have to attend 6 workshops which are really useful as it helps you to use the skills you learn immediately within the team and on the project. I am proud to have been part of the team for the Philips Project and I thoroughly enjoyed the Honours program.

Lastly, any advice for the Indian law graduate who may be considering a master’s abroad? 

There are many options to choose from within the LLM. There is a greater degree of flexibility academically, so time must be spent on understanding the courses offered and which area you might have an interest in doing the thesis in. This will be of help in selecting the courses. Connecting with the alumni always helps when in doubt.

I would strongly advise an undergraduate law student to start the process early. It is good to connect to the Alumni of any University on LinkedIn and talk to them about their experience. And be prepared for a lot of hard work. The workload can be backbreaking at times. I also took this opportunity to make friends with students from other countries all over the world and this was the most enriching experience.

“I would strongly advise an undergraduate law student to start the process early. It is good to connect to the Alumni of any University on LinkedIn and talk to them about their experience”

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