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.

Praggya Surana recently completed an LL.M. from Harvard Law School (’19), a course she enrolled at three years after obtaining the BA LLB degree from NLSIU. In this interview, she shares some insights into the LL.M. itself, how she went about applying, and a lot more.

So, let us get right to it – the HLS admission is probably one of the more unique ones when it comes to US law schools. Any advice on how to approach the essay questions? 

The statement of purpose is quite unique for every individual. It’s a good idea to have a narrative about what you bring to the table and how the particular program fits in with your larger goals.

I had not read any other essays before writing my own application which really helped because I did not have any pre-conceived notions of what works and what does not.

“I had not read any other essays before writing my own application which really helped because I did not have any pre-conceived notions of what works and what does not.”

My legal essay was an extract from a longer article I had written, and tied in with the area of law I wanted to study.

Did you ever consider an LLM right after your undergrad, or was the plan to always work for a while and then apply? Thoughts on applying right after graduation?

I was pretty certain that an LLM was not for me through my undergrad. It was only after working for a while that I decided that I would enjoy studying further.

I think it makes sense to apply once you are certain about why you want that degree and what you want to gain from it. That way you can make the most of the (incredibly short) LLM experience. I had classmates who were both, much younger and much older than I am.

I don’t think there is any one right time for an LLM.

Once you had decided that you wanted to enrol for an LLM, how did you go about shortlisting just where to apply?

My area of interest is public international law so I shortlisted universities which focus on this. I also spoke to seniors and professors who were incredibly helpful in narrowing down the places I should be looking at.

The best advice I received was to look at Professors who are doing the kind of work I see myself doing in the future and apply to those universities.

Did you apply for/receive financial aid?

I applied for financial aid from the university and did receive a combination of grant and loan.

How has the LLM experience been? Early days for sure, but what were your expectations from the course and were these met?

It’s definitely been the best year of my life. I had heard this cliché from so many of my seniors but I finally understand it. The sheer number of opportunities, both academic and otherwise, are unparalleled. I went in focused on the academic aspect of the LLM, which were definitely met.

“It’s definitely been the best year of my life. I had heard this cliché from so many of my seniors but I finally understand it. “

I felt like a kid in a candy store when picking my courses.

It was exciting to explore niche subjects in an academic system with so much choice, very unlike the Indian education system in that regard. Apart from that, a definite highlight is the amazing friends I have made over the year.

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

Organize. It takes time to get all your ducks in a row and planning goes a long way in making the application process enjoyable.

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