As most readers know by now, First Person Accounts (FPA’s) are meant to provide a first-hand account of Indian law graduates who have pursued, or are currently pursuing, a post-graduate course (be it an LLM or otherwise) from different schools across the world.

The FPA (International) is meant to broaden this scope somewhat, getting non-Indian law graduates to discuss their LL.M. experiences in different law schools from across the world. The idea behind the FPA(I) interviews is to help the Indian law graduate better understand her potential cohort, and also expand the LL.M. conversation in general.

In this FPA(I) interview, I get Lucie Monot  (TADS LL.M., Sciences Po) to talk about her post-graduate experience, the field of international dispute resolution, and a whole lot more.

So, what got you interested in an LL.M. in general, and the TADS in particular? Given that you do not require two master’s in order to qualify for the French Bar , what were some of the reasons behind taking up the TADS LL.M.?

I was indeed not planning on applying to another master as I was already fully qualified to take the bar in France and I already held a master’s degree specialized in international law.

Yet, when a friend of mine told me about the TADS LLM, I skimmed through the program and realized that taking part of the LLM would be an amazing opportunity. I had already decided to practice in international arbitration before I took the TADS course, but the program was offering a true specialization thanks to multiple classes focusing on every detail the subject and taught by worldwide renowned academics and professionals.

Last but not least, the program was offering a substantial number of workshops hours organized by the best international firms giving the students a chance to get to know better their future professional environment and some of the best professionals practicing arbitration in Paris.

“The program was offering a substantial number of workshops hours organized by the best international firms giving the students a chance to get to know better their future professional environment”

Being convinced by the quality of the program, I decided to apply and give it a shot.

Looking back, what were some of the highlights of the LL.M.? And how did the course help you with your subsequent career moves?

Undertaking the TADS LLM is undeniably one of the best decisions I made in my academic and professional life. This year at Sciences Po offered me countless opportunities to meet with incredibly talented professional both academics and lawyers. I know for a fact that this degree has been a turning point in my young career, I simply would not be where I am right now without it.

If the classes, the workshops and all the professional events we attended during the year have helped me grow as an arbitration practitioner, one of the major strengths of the program is the recruitment policy.

I could not have hoped for a better group of fellow students. While being all from different cultural and professional backgrounds, this very special year allowed us to strongly bound with each other. The small number of students, combined with enticing classes and involved teachers have triggered countless discussions about our respective countries, law systems, political situations and of course about arbitration issues.

“The small number of students, combined with enticing classes and involved teachers have triggered countless discussions about our respective countries, law systems, political situations and of course about arbitration issues.”

We were all part of this little arbitration bubble for 10 months which definitely drew us closer that I could have ever imagined. I am now very happy to be part of such a supportive group full of wonderful people.

You have also managed to secure a number of Training Contracts – would you say these were easy to come by? How should one go about approaching these?

The French system is slightly different from the UK system, so we do not need to secure Training Contracts. We need to take the entrance exam to the French bar school and once admitted; we perform several internships.

I personally undertook two internships of six months, both in international arbitration. The first took place in London and the second will be in Paris starting next January. I cannot give advice for the Training Contracts but regarding the internships, firms often look for very highly graduated students preferably with international experiences. Having lived, studied or worked abroad is an undeniable advantage and working experience is also very much appreciated by big law firms.

“Regarding the internships, firms often look for very highly graduated students preferably with international experiences. Having lived, studied or worked abroad is an undeniable advantage and working experience is also very much appreciated by big law firms.”

What is your reading of the dispute resolution market when it comes to recruiting international law graduates? Do you think courses like the TADS LLM help one’s recruitment chances?

The dispute resolution market, especially when it comes to international arbitration, is tough. There is no point denying it. There are a lot of graduates for few jobs offers which make the recruitment criteria higher than ever. You have to be highly motivated, present a tremendous resume and offer a handful of references.

“The dispute resolution market, especially when it comes to international arbitration, is tough. There is no point denying it. “

Yet a lot of young professional get these boxes ticked and the firms are always looking for something that would make a CV outshine the others. In this context I certainly think that the TADS LLM is enabling its students to step forward.

Mostly because the program combines two key elements:

  • A outstanding academic level through worldwide renowned professors and a thorough selection process for its students
  • Close connections with the biggest international law firms in Paris, which happens to be one of the biggest arbitration places in the world.

Therefore, many arbitration practitioners in Paris are aware of the LLM graduates’ qualities and their CV usually do not go unnoticed.

Then of course, the TADS LLM would only get you through the door, it is up to you to convince the firms that you are the best for the job.

How easy or difficult would it be for an international lawyer to qualify for the French Bar? Anything that she ought to keep in mind when considering a career in France?

I think the biggest problem is to speak French!

The “classic” way of becoming a lawyer in France implies for you to be graduated from a law master in France and to take the entrance exam to one of the French Bar Schools. Then it is a year and a half process to finally qualify as a lawyer.

It is also possible to go through an accelerated procedure called “Article 100” which enables you to only take a few exams and be qualified straight away if you are already a qualified lawyer in your home country. That being said all the exams are in French which reduce the number of candidates.

Lastly, any advice for the international lawyer who is considering taking up an LLM outside her home country? 

Stick to it! Even if the TADS LLM was in my home country, I studied and worked abroad numerous times during the past five years, and I could not recommend it more. These kinds of experience really help broaden your horizons and getting you out of your comfort zone. You also get to test your adaptability qualities and meet wonderful people.

I could not be more thankful for the opportunity I got to spend an entire year with such a diverse cultural group during my LLM year.

Finally, do not hesitate to reach out to former students, the administration or your fellow candidates. Remember that (almost) everyone will have the same issues and questions so sharing information and helping out each other often make the entire process way easier for everybody.

“Remember that (almost) everyone will have the same issues and questions so sharing information and helping out each other often make the entire process way easier for everybody.”

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