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.
Jigyasa Singla is currently pursuing a JD from the Indiana University Maurer School of Law as part of a double degree programme offered by Jindal Global Law School and Maurer. In this FPA, she talks about why she enrolled for the JD, the transition to a US law school, and a lot more.
So, you apply for the JD in your final year at Jindal? Do you apply as a regular applicant, or are there any changes in the admission process since JGLS has a tie up with Maurer?
We apply for a JD in the first semester of our fourth year at Jindal. Once someone is selected for a JD, they finish their time in Jindal in four years and can finish the JD in two years.
There are some changes in the application process as JGLS has a tie up with Maurer. JGLS students don’t have to take the LSAT. However, the rest of the application remains the same: interested students have to submit a resume, statement of purpose, and two letters of recommendation.
“JGLS students don’t have to take the LSAT. However, the rest of the application remains the same. “
Any advice on the application process itself?
It’s best to build your resume as much as possible while you’re in law school. I did this by doing a number of internships in different professional legal environments, and by taking up research positions while I was in Jindal. These experiences also helped me write a comprehensive statement of purpose.
I think it’s a good idea to build relationships and stay connected with your professors and the people you work with. They will only be able to write you good letters of recommendation if they know you well enough.
“I think it’s a good idea to build relationships and stay connected with your professors and the people you work with.”
What got you looking at this dual degree program? What were your expectations from the programme and have they been met?
I came to the United States for a semester abroad programme during my fourth year at Jindal. I decided I wanted to get a deeper understanding of American jurisprudence and have a comparative perspective on different legal systems.
I think doing a JD is a great option for anyone who is even considering practicing in the United States. I wanted to have the option of practicing in the United States, and the JD seemed like my best option. Thanks to the dual-degree partnership, I had the option to receive a JD in the same number of years as it would have taken to get an LLM.
Do JGLS students also get financial aid for the JD course?
Most JGLS students get a partial scholarship for the JD course. I get a $20,000 scholarship for each academic year.
How has the JD experience been thus far? What were some of the biggest challenges in terms of the learning experience?
The JD is significantly different from an undergraduate law degree in India. It’s challenging, as we are expected to put in several hours of self-study throughout the semester.
Most law school classes in the United States have one final exam, so your entire grade depends on that one exam.
It was difficult for me to adapt to this, as each class in Jindal had multiple components that contributed to our grades, whereas at Maurer, I didn’t get much feedback until the very end of my semester.
Apart from dual qualifications, what do you think are some of the advantages of the dual degree programme?
Despite the work, the JD is a great opportunity to learn from some of the best legal scholars in the country. Many of my professors are experts in their fields, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed nearly all my classes.
I have a diverse set of peers, as they come from different academic and professional backgrounds, and I’ve been able to get a multi-disciplinary exposure to law.
Apart from professional advantages, I think it is a great experience to live in a different country and get immersed in a new culture.
Lastly, any advice for the Indian law graduate who may also be contemplating the US JD programme?
I would recommend that one consider why they want to pursue a JD, as it is a big investment. Due to visa uncertainties, one may or may not be able to work in the United States for a long period of time.
“I would recommend that one consider why they want to pursue a JD, as it is a big investment.”
Nonetheless, a JD is a great option if one wants to practice in a non-Indian jurisdiction. Even if someone wants to practice in India, the exposure and experience is totally worthwhile!
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