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.
Shray Kamboj is a Legal Counsel at KPMG Singapore, as well as an LL.M. graduate from the National University of Singapore (’15). In this FPA, the Amity Law School (’10) graduate discusses his reasons for opting for an LLM, employment opportunities for Indian lawyers in Singapore, and a whole lot more.
Looking back, how do you think the LLM at NUS has helped you in your professional career?
An LLM for me was always about the academics, especially understanding the application of law in reference to business requirements. Today, I sit with the management of my company and help them make decisions over the company future.
I can better relate to and effectively help my company in understanding the options, obligations and restrictions they have under law and apply the same to a business opportunity.
The masters for me was the bridge between understanding a business decision and executing the same.
Back when you applied for the LLM, was one of the motivations to move to another jurisdiction? Or was this not really part of the plan?
Moving to another jurisdiction is always on the back of your mind when you intend to do your Masters from outside India, however, it was not the most important factor.
My decision was a combination of learning the application and purpose of law from professors with international exposure and experience, hoping to get some work experience in a different jurisdiction, a vacation from all the taxing years spent in private practice and hoping to add value to my profile.
“Moving to another jurisdiction is always on the back of your mind when you intend to do your Masters from outside India, however, it was not the most important factor.”
I know it has been a while, but were some of the highlights of the LLM course at NUS? Any intangible benefits that only accrued a fair bit after the course was over?
NUS was very different from my graduation. All academics had a practical side to it and made the course very interesting. One of my subjects was Business and Finance for Lawyers, where we were not only supposed to read and understand financial documents but actually come up with a business idea and make a business case, as if we were looking for investors.
It was moments like these when you realize that application of law is not simply about creating documents and filing applications, and how you can effectively drive commerce.
The Singapore legal market is quite competitive when it comes to legal recruitments – how do you think Indian law graduates can increase their chances of finding employment here?
Finding employment in any jurisdiction which is not your home, is always difficult. Singapore maybe more so than others, as not only you have to compete with graduates from NUS, which is very well respected world over but also due to the constant influx of foreign lawyers from US, UK and Australia.
Unlike these jurisdictions, Indian law graduates don’t go through the same training and conditioning and hence, we have to work a little extra hard to find an opportunity.
There is no silver bullet but rather a combination of things, being getting a Masters from a local university (preferably with confirmed internship or two before you even reach Singapore and definitely after gaining some experience), or get qualified as a Solicitor or getting certifications in future business needs like GDPR or technology related certifications and definitely some luck.
Not quite related to the LLM, but how do you think Indian law schools can better equip their graduates to compete and excel on a global scale?
The one thing that really impressed me at NUS was the practicality of the course. You are not tested on how much you can remember but how you can apply the law in real life problems. I believe helping students appreciate the purpose of a statue and then challenging them to apply the same, and grading them on their application will create better lawyers.
“You are not tested on how much you can remember but how you can apply the law in real life problems. “
You have to realize in a dispute, there is a lawyer on either side, hence from an academic point of view, there should not be a right or wrong answer, it should always be about how well a person has understood legal requirements and applied the law to argue a given set of facts.
Lastly, would you recommend an international LL.M. to an Indian law graduate?
I will definitely recommend an international LLM to Indian law graduates, simply for the experience and polishing your skills as a lawyer.
I would also urge law graduates to work for a few years first and once they understand what kind of lawyer they want to be and in what areas of law they want to specialize in, then only decide to take this step.