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.

Alankrati Khare recently graduated from the USC Gould School of Law, where she had enrolled for the LL.M. in Alternative Dispute Resolution and Business Laws. With a law degree from ILS, Pune, Alankrati worked for close to two years before embarking on the LL.M. In this FPA, she shares her reasons for choosing USC Gould, the US legal recruitment market, and a lot more.

Did you consider applying for the master’s right out your of undergraduate? Or was the plan to always work for some time and then apply?

My plan was always to work for a year or two and then apply for an LLM as I wanted to be sure of what I specialized in.

I believe when you’re right out of law school you want to explore different legal options and then make an informed decision after exploring what interests you to further chose what you want to study in depth towards your specialization.

How did you go about selecting just where to apply? And how much time do you think should a prospective applicant spend on the selecting process?

One must research well on the course and the professors. I read articles by the professors and student reviews of teaching methods the professors practice on websites such as ratemyprofessors.com to make an informed decision before picking the right school entailing the right course.

Although, I didn’t really use this technique but sometimes, some professors also upload their lectures on Youtube, if you are in luck that might be a helpful aid in decision making.

The major chunk of research should be based on the structure of the course and the credibility of the professors as opposed to the brand value of the university and the name of the university. You must try and check the standing of the law school course in particular and not the university in general (rank wise if that’s something you’re looking at, although in my knowledge should not be the dominant factor in decision making.)

“You must try and check the standing of the law school course in particular and not the university in general”

What got you to narrow down on USC Gould? And were you always opting for a specialized LLM degree? 

The course USC Gould has in Alternate Dispute Resolution got me to zero down on this school. The courses I picked such as International Arbitration and International Business Negotiations, were some very interesting courses I came across. The course structure had enough practical exposure, instead of the usual written assignment submission. I spoke to recent graduates and JDs regarding the courses and the course professors and they seemed very impressed.

“The courses I picked such as International Arbitration and International Business Negotiations, were some very interesting courses I came across. The course structure had enough practical exposure, instead of the usual written assignment submission.”

Keeping in mind all of the above and evaluating all other factors such as financial aid and the geographical location I decided to have Gould on the top of my list.

My reason for specializing in ADR is very personal and may not resonate with many. I truly believe ADR is our immediate response to cross-border disputes. I have always been intrigued by International Dispute Resolution and instantaneously developed a liking towards International Arbitration and International Business Negotiations the moment I discovered its bonuses. Therefore, I was always clear that I would specialize in Alternate Dispute Resolution.

Any advice on how to go about the application process? More specifically the written requirements? 

You must really be careful with their documentation and paperwork such as university attestations. Make your SOP as different and personal as possible. Instead of sounding mechanical and correct, try and make it more individualistic by being opinionated.

The authorities mostly want to know what difference or addition will you make to the world after pursuing the course, whatever country it may be.

What is your reading of the US legal market when it comes to recruiting international LLM graduates? 

My reading is very straight forward, you pass the Bar- you get a job! Not sure if you’d be able to find an H-1B sponsor but you would find an associate level job once you pass the Bar Exam for sure. If not, you should be able to find a law clerk/ paralegal/ legal assistant position.

Some employers offer you a conditional position wherein, you’re hired as a law clerk up until you pass the Bar and then are promoted to an associate’s position. Try and look for private practicing lawyers if looking for, law clerk/ paralegal/ legal assistant position and law firms if looking for internships.

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

The only advice I have is, please do not do an LLM only as a gateway to USA. Pursue an LLM for its value and the worth the degree holds. Also consider, the value of that LLM not just in USA but in India. Evaluate, not from job prospective because nothing guarantees a job but from the knowledge addition and resume value addition prospective.

“The only advice I have is, please do not do an LLM only as a gateway to USA. Pursue an LLM for its value and the worth the degree holds.”

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