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.
Abhilasha Ramakrishnan is a 2019 graduate of King’s College London, where she completed her LLM with a focus on Transnational Law. She enrolled for the LLM right after completing a BBA LLB from the Bishop Cotton Women’s Christian College of Law in Bangalore. In this FPA, she discusses her LLM experience at LLM, the application process itself, and a whole lot more.
Did you consider working for a few years before the LLM? Or were you keen on enrolling for a master’s right after your graduation?
I was very keen on doing my LL.M. right after graduation. I had wanted to do an LL.M. since my second year of law school. Around my fourth year, I knew I wanted to specialize in public international law.
How did you go about selecting where to apply? What were some of the schools you shortlisted?
I found the UK to be an excellent country to study international law in. The UK is a party to most international instruments and has incorporated those laws into its own domestic laws. Once I had narrowed down on the country, it was a matter of choosing which university I wanted to apply to.
“Once I had narrowed down on the country, it was a matter of choosing which university I wanted to apply to.”
I had a few colleges in mind and looked up the LL.M. programmes of each of those schools. Ultimately, I had applied to the University of Cambridge, LSE and KCL. What drew me to KCL was its Transnational Law programme which focused on international law from a transnational law perspective. (For those wondering, Philip Jessup describes Transnational Law as ‘including both public and private international law and other rules that do not fit into either category’).
I also liked that the School of Law was situated right in the middle of London and within walking distance from the Royal Courts of Justice and several other courts.
Any advice on the application process itself, more specifically the letters of recommendation and the personal statement?
The application process is pretty straightforward. One can apply through the online application portal ‘King’s Apply’ and upload all the documents/transcripts there. KCL accepts both TOEFL and IELTS scores. Applicants have to write a personal statement of about 1,000 words.
One does not need to use flashy language in their SOP. However, one should aim to tailor the SOP towards each university and the different courses/specializations offered. Also, proofreading is crucial.
Regarding letters of recommendation, King’s is one of the very few colleges that does not require letters of recommendation (I believe this is a recent development).
Did you apply for/receive financial aid?
I had applied for one scholarship, but I did not receive it. The process for the scholarship involves writing two essays: one of about 1,500 words on a particular legal topic and the second a statement of purpose of about 200 words (this is separate from the personal statement required as part of the application).
How was the LLM experience? What were some of the more challenging (and rewarding) aspects of the LLM?
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at King’s. Being taught by experienced international lawyers and barristers in a campus situated but a stone’s throw away from several courts and public libraries was undoubtedly hugely beneficial. Apart from KCL’s own libraries, students also have access to the University of London’s Senate House Library and the IALS library. King’s has a number of societies and clubs and also hosts numerous career fairs and networking events.
The coursework constantly encourages students to challenge what they already know and to contribute to their fields of interest. It comes as no surprise that students are expected to do a great deal of reading and preparation before each class.
“The coursework constantly encourages students to challenge what they already know and to contribute to their fields of interest. “
Generally, students are given anywhere between 50-200 pages of reading material and are strongly encouraged to contribute to class discussions. Additionally, some modules require students to write research papers (instead of exams) for the final assessments. By the end of the year, one can easily expect to walk away with copious amounts of knowledge and a lifetime’s worth of memories.
What is your reading of the employment opportunities for international LLM graduates in the UK?
The LL.M. is only an academic degree; it does not enable the graduate to work as a solicitor or barrister in the UK. To my knowledge, firms do not have any special preference for LL.M. graduates (unless they have already qualified in the UK), nor is an LL.M. a requirement to apply for training contracts.
An LL.M. is essentially a way to gain specialized knowledge about a certain area of the law. That being said, it is certainly not impossible for international LL.M. graduates to get a job abroad. In this regard, prior work experience in one’s home country is definitely an asset. It is also a matter of hard work, perseverance and networking.
Lastly, any advice for the Indian law graduate who is considering a master’s abroad?
It is important to remember that there is no ‘one perfect foolproof route’ to success. A master’s is an all-round enriching experience that forces one to broaden one’s horizons and think outside the box. I strongly believe that there is no right or wrong time to do a master’s.
“A master’s is an all-round enriching experience that forces one to broaden one’s horizons and think outside the box. I strongly believe that there is no right or wrong time to do a master’s.”
Admittedly, having some prior work experience is definitely an advantage if one is seeking employment abroad. Nevertheless, I would definitely recommend it to everyone, irrespective of the stage they are in their careers.
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