Mohak Rana is currently an LLM candidate at the Franklin Pierce School of Law, University of New Hampshire.
In this interview, which was first published on Lawctopus here, he talks about choosing where to apply for a specialised IP LLM, his experiences at UNH thus far, and what prospective LLM applicants ought to keep in mind.
How did you go about selecting where to apply for an LLM? What were some of the schools you had shortlisted?
It was a big decision to make which included many factors like reputation, ranking, finances, cost of living etc. First of all, I decided my personal goals, and what I was looking from my LLM.
I realized that instead of aiming for the Ivy League schools, I should focus on my course specific colleges and started researching online. I checked LLM-Guide which told me about various options I had, and also about top 10 IP-LLM courses from different colleges around the world.
“I realized that instead of aiming for the Ivy League schools, I should focus on my course specific colleges and started researching online. “
After this, I started making an excel sheet for comparison of these schools in terms of different factors which mattered to me. Finally, I made a list of eight schools where I wanted to apply which were ideal in ranking and costs. These were:
- Turin School of Development
- Franklin Pierce School of Law
- Hong Kong University
- Maastricht University
- Queensland University
- Ankara University
- Jagiellonian University
- Queen Mary University of London
Any advice on how to go about the admission process itself in terms of time management, writing SoPs etc? Did you use the experience of building OurIP in your personal statement?
I was very afraid initially. There was so much information and advice from different people that it just confused me. First of all, write your own SoP and do not follow any template. An SoP is a story about yourself and your goals.
In your absence, that is the piece of paper which will tell your story to the person making decision about your application. So, do not worry about an SoP and write it honestly. Get it checked by your peers or your faculty so that you know it meets its objective and also for grammatical errors.
After you have decided your goal, needs and have shortlisted your colleges, you can start with the following basic requirements:
- Gather your documents like Degree, Transcripts, Passport etc. You can do this even before you start researching about colleges as it might help you save some time during actual application time. (Make sure you have everything ready when you are applying)
- Try to get a good recommendation letters from faculty and from professional contacts you have worked with. (Make sure they talk about your traits and your achievements, and the people you decide to take recommendations should ideally be from the field you are planning to do your LLM in)
- TOEFL exam (Try to get a 100 as most of colleges require minimum 100)
- If you have been taught your bachelor course in English then a letter from your college stating the same (Very handy in case you don’t want to spend on TOEFL exam and your shortlisted college provides an exemption on the basis of previous education being done in English medium)
- Apply as soon as the application process starts for that particular colleges (In most cases September is the month when admission process starts)
- Time management is very important so make sure you have everything ready before September if you are aiming for good scholarship as most of the colleges do admissions on rolling basis with a limited scholarship fund which tends to go to people applying in first round.(In general practice not necessarily)
Yes, I did talk about OurIP in my statement and how I plan to use it in future. I talked about how my LLM degree is supposed to help me in building OurIP.
What got you to narrow down on the LLM offered by UNH in particular?
The Franklin Pierce School of Law at UNH is one of the few schools which has been consistently doing good in rankings, not to mention its huge IP alumni base in India and abroad (eg. VP and Chief Patent Counsel of Microsoft is a UNH alum). It is a known name in the IP field and offers very good scholarship options. The law school is something you will always be proud to be associated with because of its worldwide recognition among IP professionals.
“The law school is something you will always be proud to be associated with because of its worldwide recognition among IP professionals.”
One major factor was low cost of living in Concord compared to some other big names in expensive cities like California, New York, Singapore, Hong-Kong etc. Overall, a very generous scholarship combined with the low cost of living made it the best cost effective option I had. The school’s IP library and resources, experienced faculty, Top 5 ranking in IP, and proximity to major cities like Boston and NY made me decide to leave every other option I had in my list.
Did you apply for/receive financial aid?
I did mention in my SOP that I would like to be considered for any scholarship opportunity I might get. To my surprise, I got very generous offers from different schools. In the end I chose UNH because apart from the usual merit scholarship, I also got an additional $5,000 scholarship from Royzz & Co. law firm.
Early days, but how has the LLM experience been thus far?
It has been a wonderful experience so far. The subject courses covers a wide range of topics. The pedagogy used is very focused and involves active involvement of students in the form of various class activities.
The faculty and administration make sure to help with any issue such as health, language barrier, home sickness or anything else which might hamper your learning experience. Regular events by various clubs involving both recreational and academic events helps you to enjoy law school life.
We are also getting an exclusive opportunity to be taught by industry professionals e.g Patent licensing class is taught by a Partner in big IP law firm, while IP strategies class will be taught in Silicon valley in the office of Microsoft by Vice President and Chief Patent Counsel of Microsoft.
On top of this regular invitations for community engagement programs, lecture series by legal experts, open discussion platforms have been delightful. In short it is not a degree but an experience of a lifetime.
Lastly, any advice for the Indian law graduate who is looking to pursue a master’s abroad?
Getting your financials straight is a major advice I would like to give. It is not easy and certainly not cheap to pursue a degree abroad. I strongly advise against taking a huge loan and then pursue your degree outside India in the hopes that you will get a job here and will be able to payback your loans. I have seen plenty examples where people got crushed under their loan burden.
“I strongly advise against taking a huge loan and then pursue your degree outside India in the hopes that you will get a job here and will be able to payback your loans. “
If you can afford it due to your parents backing you up or you having you own savings coupled with good scholarship then only think about doing a LLM from abroad or else it is not worth it. Also, it is very difficult to get a job on the basis of your L.L.M. so keep that in mind.
Lastly, if you think that you can subsume some of the living cost by working part time, be aware that for your first year (basically your whole LLM period) you can only do those part time jobs which are on campus and which are not federally funded. In short there are very less opportunities to earn money in the US in particular.