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 Chanaka Ramanayaka (LL.M., California Western School of Law) to talk about his reasons for choosing CWSL, the LLM experience itself, and a whole lot more.
How did you go about selecting where to apply for an LLM? And what got you to narrow down on CWSL?
Well, back in Sri Lanka, I was engaged mostly in criminal appeals and some criminal trials. As a junior attorney, I was working in the chambers of a President’s Counsel, while having my own practice. I was always inclined to expand my experience and gain some international exposure.
Having studied in UK, I had plans of pursing post graduate studies abroad.
I was looking for a post graduate degree in several countries, namely UK, Australia, and USA. The biggest challenge for me was to select a program that matched my aspirations. I wanted a program that focused on several subjects, offered by a reputed university or a law school. I was thoroughly impressed with the LLM program of CWSL due to the option to select your own courses, and the reasonable cost of the LLM course.
Any advice on the LLM application itself? How much time do you think one requires for the application process?
I spent a good deal of time attending to the LLM application. I can specifically remember the hours spent on formulating my Personal Statement. I also had to go through my past LLB transcripts, course dates, and other pertinent information.
I believe it’s only prudent to dedicate several days to thoroughly go through the application and get all the pertinent information before filling it out.
Did you apply for/receive financial aid?
Although I did not apply for any financial aid, the law school awarded approximately a $2,000 scholarship.
You also studied law in the UK, with an LLB from the University of Middlesex. How would you compare your experiences in the UK with those in the US? Any big differences?
I did my undergraduate studies in law, LLB (Hon), at University of Middlesex, UK. The program at the University of Middlesex was completely exam based with only one assignment based course.
During the entire three years of the LLB, I committed myself completely to attending lectures and legal research. In retrospect, I would say it was a program to screen potential candidates who would be successful at completing the Solicitor’s or Barristers course.
As for the LLM at CWSL, the intensity is on par with what I experienced in UK. However, the lecturers are more accessible and friendly. Also, you would be able to better prepare for your exams by utilizing the outlines and past exams.
CWSL goes above and beyond to supply its students with all the facilities needed to successfully complete the program of studies. Therefore, I was able to successfully complete the LLM with a cum laude (equivalent to a degree with merit ).
“CWSL goes above and beyond to supply its students with all the facilities needed to successfully complete the program of studies. “
How was the LLM experience at CWSL? Looking back, what were some of the highlights of the course?
My experience at CWSL was absolutely fulfilling. I was able to take up core subjects in order to better prepare for the bar exam. I was immensely engaged in the lectures and the pertinent legal research.
I can remember spending the mornings in lecture halls, discussing laws and case laws with lecturers, and the evenings in the law library. At present, I am a licensed attorney in the state of California, having passed the California bar exam.
The CWSL LLM gave me the tools and the knowledge to be successful in taking the bar exam. I would advise anyone contemplating about postgraduate studies or a program to use as a stepping stone for the bar exam to consider CWSL.
“I would advise anyone contemplating about postgraduate studies or a program to use as a stepping stone for the bar exam to consider CWSL.”
(Full disclosure: California Western School of Law is one of our clients here at Amicus Partners)