First Person Accounts (FPA’s) are meant to provide a first-hand account of Indian graduates who have pursued, or are pursuing, a post-graduate course (LL.M. or otherwise) from different universities across the world.
Shilpa Singh enrolled for an LL.M. at the University of Hamburg, where she was the DAAD Scholar for 2017-18. A graduate of Gandhinagar National Law University (’17), Shilpa studied EU law and international law, as well as Commercial and Competition Law during her time at Hamburg.
At what point of time as an undergraduate student did you start planning a master’s? And did you ever consider working for a few years before applying?
I decided to pursue a Master’s in my 3rd year of 5 year studies, but just was not sure whether I wanted to do a specialized course or a general LLM, like the one offered at Cambridge. It took almost one and half years for me to figure out my likeness in a particular field of law and pursue my career in.
It was the time when I took an internship under a Competition Team of a renowned firm at New Delhi that helped me to forge my decision to do my LLM in Competition law.
There I was also fortunate to meet someone who was awarded with DAAD scholarship. I was completely blown away by meeting him and other members of the team, who I found to be my source of inspiration for pursuing competition law.
The course offered by DAAD is very demanding and it covers different areas of law which can be a problem to some students. That is why a lot of people do not end up applying in this course, whereas the intake is only 20.
“The course offered by DAAD is very demanding and it covers different areas of law which can be a problem to some students. That is why a lot of people do not end up applying in this course, whereas the intake is only 20.”
I took the course right after my undergraduate and undertook internships in competition, corporate, arbitration and litigation lawyers that helped me to bring clarity in practical application of law. So I never felt the lack of experience when I compared myself to other students with experience or European classmates of mine. Nor did it affect my academic performance, as I was among the top performers and my LLM thesis was published as a Study Module.
But professional experience is one of the criteria to assess candidate for DAAD scholarship and other scholarships and it definitely adds on as a person’s strength. I think more than this, the panel took an impression of me and passion for law because I was awarded a funding which is different from the one that is usually awarded by DAAD.
My focus was on King’s LLM and DAAD’s Master of European Law. The course offered at DAAD as found by me was holistic giving me better opportunities to connect with lawyers and Professors, learning German, internship opportunities, course in EU law which is not like any national law or international law.
Any advice on how to go about the DAAD scholarship application?
The application is demanding and it is advised to prepare beforehand. More than this, one needs to make mental preparation because the interview is the deal breaker here. Whatever one chooses to write in the application, it is advisable to honestly depict the kind of person one is and her aspirations.
“Whatever one chooses to write in the application, it is advisable to honestly depict the kind of person one is and her aspirations.”
Personal statements are very important as it reflects the person and one must give in few words about their present and future plans. Also, mention about how this scholarship can help one to achieve their goals. Having publications is good way to reflect your interest in law.
Looking back, what were some of the best learnings of the LLM course?
The modules in Microeconomics and Macroeconomics in Semester 1 and Economics in Competition law in Semester 2 were my favourite. My favourite faculty among all is the one who taught us Economics in Semester 1.
As a student of science, I had never studied Economics and these modules helped me to hone my analytical skills needed for a competition or trade lawyer.
And lastly, what advice would you have for the Indian law graduate who is considering an LLM abroad?
Before applying for any course, I would recommend that students must ask themselves that why they want to do this course and in case of being offered with something else, would they give up on this? My point is that students must be clear with what they want to do and which course they want to pursue. This can be done by reading about course outline and asking former students of that course.
“I would recommend that students must ask themselves that why they want to do this course and in case of being offered with something else, would they give up on this? My point is that students must be clear with what they want to do and which course they want to pursue. “
There can be situations where students may not get the course they want to pursue due to certain circumstances or missing deadlines. Here, I would suggest them to wait for a year or two and reapply for the desired course rather than looking for an optimal amount of experience in CV.
However, my application did not face any disadvantage due to lack of experience and in my opinion it is wrong to take experience as the sole criteria for measuring someone’s capabilities.