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.
Kiran Devrani is a recent LLM graduate from the School of Law at New York University (’18). After completing her law from Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies (’15), worked at a corporate law firm for three years before enrolling at NYU where she took up the specialised LLM in international business regulation, litigation and arbitration.
Was it difficult to apply while also working at the same time? When did you start the application process itself, and what were some of the schools you considered applying for?
It was quite challenging, and rigorous for me. I was also working on an arbitration matter at that time. So, it was tiresome and difficult to first work on pleading drafts for arbitration at office and then come back home and work on personal statements for universities, research about courses & universities, keep checks on deadlines, gather the relevant documents etc.
But thankfully, I have very supportive sisters and a friend who helped me a lot during those stressful days.
I started my application process during September 2017 (which was a bit late). One should start it earlier, I would say at least a year before you are applying, because it takes a lot of time to prepare list of colleges (one has to do a thorough research about courses offered, university and professors), personal statement and essays for scholarships. There were so many scholarships which I missed because of late application process.
“One should start it earlier, I would say at least a year before you are applying, because [the application process] takes a lot of time “
I considered both U.K and U.S universities, so apart from NYU I applied at Columbia, Cambridge, University of Bristol, University of Nottingham, Queen’s Mary, King’s College and also MIDS Geneva.
Were you always looking at a specialised LLM or were you open to a general LLM as well?
No, I was open to general LLM also as long as the university had those courses that I am interested in.
What was it about NYU that ticked all the right boxes?
Firstly, NYU has the best arbitration courses (both commercial and investment treaty) which I was looking for. Luckily, I found that it offered the specialized program in arbitration i.e. International Business Regulation and Arbitration (IBRLA).
Secondly, NYU’s location- Greenwich Village, which is surrounded by amazing restaurants, cafes, Washington Square Park etc. There are always some or other things to do around and places to hang out with friends and relax after hectic class schedules.
Sticking with NYU, the personal statement section is quite small. How did you manage to put down all your thoughts in 500 words?
My initial personal statement was quite long, approximately 1,000-1,500 words. But then I reviewed it at least 6-7 times. While writing the personal statement, I focused on explaining why I chose NYU, my interest in the courses and how they are linked with my work experience.
I tried not to be repetitive. One should avoid overlapping things between resume and personal statement, that’s what I did and was able to put all my thoughts concisely in 500 words.
Did you apply for/receive financial aid?
I did apply for one scholarship at NYU but couldn’t get it.
How has the LLM experience been? Looking back, what have been some of the highlights along the way?
It was wonderful! I had the best time of my life at NYU, made so many friends from all over the world, got to explore big apple city and was taught by some of the best law practitioners and academicians.
I had some amazing NYU memories- picnics at central park, D’Agostino’s terrace and Hayden hall’s basement parties, weekend brunches with friends, once a week going to Oppa or West 3rd Common with IBRLA friends, NYU’s Halloween ball, NYU’s South Asian Law Association’s Ball (Diwali celebration- we danced like crazy), texting each other on LLM group for free food events at NYU, NYU karaoke night, Bowling match at my birthday (my team won) etc.
Did you find yourself falling back on your professional experience during any of the courses? And if so, how useful did you find your work experience?
I did, during my international commercial arbitration course and Oral Advocacy in International Investment and Commercial Arbitration Seminar classes. We discussed some landmark Indian arbitration cases in the class, since I knew them already and also had the chance to work on the new amendments that were made in Arbitration Act after those cases, I was able to argue the changing perspective of arbitration regime in India.
Further, during the seminar class when we had to do cross examination of witnesses, since I had drafted cross-examination questions earlier, I didn’t take much time while preparing for that in class. In fact, lot of LLMs in my batch had more work experience than me and during class discussions they used to mention their real-world legal experiences and problems.
“A lot of LLMs in my batch had more work experience than me and during class discussions they used to mention their real-world legal experiences and problems.”
Not connected to the LLM per se, but was it easy finding accommodation in NYC?
Not at all, NYC is an expensive city. During my LL.M year, I lived on campus (D’Agostino hall) and after finishing LLM when I tried to look for apartments, it was not easy to find one within a reasonable budget, and modest location.
Lastly, what is your reading of the employment prospects of international LLM graduates in the US right now?
I specialized in International Arbitration and what I experienced was that it is not easy to get an employment in that area of law in U.S. Most international law firms wish to hire either J.Ds or a bilingual student (either French, Mandarin or Spanish).