As most readers know by now, First Person Accounts (FPA’s) are meant to provide a first-hand account of Indian law graduates who have pursued, or are currently pursuing, a post-graduate course (be it an LLM or otherwise) from different schools across the world.

The FPA (International) is meant to broaden this scope somewhat, getting non-Indian law graduates to discuss their LL.M. experiences in different law schools from across the world. The idea behind the FPA(I) interviews is to help the Indian law graduate better understand her potential cohort, and also expand the LL.M. conversation in general.

Velislava Hristova is a Bulgarian qualified lawyer specialising in International Arbitration, and is currently based in Vienna, Austria an intern with the International Arbitration Group of an international law firm. Velislava holds an LL.M. in International Commercial Arbitration Law (ICAL) from Stockholm University and LL.M. from the University of National and World Economy. She specialised in Arbitration and International Commercial Law at Pace University and attended the Paris Arbitration Academy and the ICC Summer course in International Commercial Arbitration. She also happens to be an Ambassador of Arbitration Intelligence, Rapporteur for Europe of Young-OGEMID and Compliance Officer of the Moot Alumni Association.

I have to ask, you are handling so many projects at one time – how on earth do you find the time for this?

I really enjoy the work in the field of International Arbitration. I work with passion and desire. When you enjoy what you do, it is much easier to find the strength and motivation and consequently the time.

I find the motivation to get involved in so many different projects, because of the way I look at them. Each has something different to offer. Some of them are a great learning experience, and they develop me further as a person and a professional. Other projects are close to me because of their mission and the positive impact they bring.

Nothing can compare to seeing your efforts being appreciated and rewarded, especially when it is combined with a positive impact on others. It is something I experience whenever I have the chance to share my knowledge and experience with students and other younger practitioners.

When you love what you do, you will always find the time.

You have invested heavily in legal education throughout your career. What have been some of the greatest benefits derived from this?

There are many benefits from investing in your education, especially when it comes to studying abroad and taking up international courses.

For me, one of the most valuable assets of my education so far is the opportunity to meet many new and inspiring people. While studying and living in Stockholm, I had the chance to meet experienced academics and practitioners like my tutors at the university. I got to know aspiring young arbitration practitioners from all around the world, i.e. my ICAL classmates.

In addition to that, participating in the Arbitration Academy in Paris was an amazing experience both on personal and on a professional level. I had the opportunity to meet and learn from some of the leading practitioners in the field, who I admire. I also spent wonderful three weeks with more than eighty students from all over the world who share the same passion about International Arbitration, and I am pleased to see how active and successful each one of them has been so far. Having a wide and diverse personal network of contacts is among the keys to success in the arbitration world and one of the best ways to achieve it is through education. And not to forget that some of the personal contacts evolved into close friendships.

“Having a wide and diverse personal network of contacts is among the keys to success in the arbitration world and one of the best ways to achieve it is through education. “

My education opened many doors and helped me to identify valuable opportunities. As an ICAL student, I had the chance to secure an internship position at the Stockholm office of a leading U.S. law firm. And I guess that my education has given me a serious advantage during the application process for my current position at the Vienna office of an international law firm.

Attending numerous arbitration events during my studies have resulted in new inspiring opportunities. For example, while attending the Helsinki International Arbitration Day in 2018, I first heard about Arbitrator Intelligence (“AI”). As a young practitioner coming from a region which is underrepresented in International Arbitration, I was fascinated by the mission of AI to promote diversity in arbitrator appointments in all of its dimensions (gender, age, geographical location, legal background). Later on, I was pleased to have the chance to support the AI’s mission by becoming ambassador during its CEE region campaign in 2019.

Another great benefit of my rich educational experience is that it eases my daily work. I am well aware of the latest developments in the field; I have the necessary skills, knowledge and contacts to react swiftly and to spot new business opportunities even in jurisdictions to which I have no exposure at all. This is all thanks to my efforts to improve constantly myself by investing heavily in continuous education.

“In the end, one should keep in mind that knowledge is power, but gaining knowledge and being up-to-date with the latest developments is the really challenging part. “

In the end, one should keep in mind that knowledge is power, but gaining knowledge and being up-to-date with the latest developments is the really challenging part. Education streamlines the process and widens your world, especially if you are an international student. If you are still considering this option – just go for it, it can only be beneficial to you and your career.

Why did you decide to become a coach for the Vis Moot? And how was your experience coaching the NLU Odisha team?

I have not taken part in Vis Moot as a participant, but I have participated in other international moot court competitions, and I know how difficult it is to prepare well when you do not get intense coaching and support from your university.

In the last couple of years, I worked hard to build knowledge and experience in International Arbitration and International Commercial Law learning from some of the greatest minds in the field and sharing my knowledge with students is a good way to give something back and make a positive impact.

This is why I registered as a remote coach with the Moot Academy and was assigned to help the NLU Odisha team to prepare for their participation in Vis East.

I could not even dream of a better team and had a wonderful first experience as a coach. The team always managed to exceed my expectations and showed remarkable progress during the preparation process. I am glad that their efforts paid off at the end. The team members are so talented and hard-working that I am sure they will reach new heights in the future.

This year I have the great pleasure and privilege to coach the team of the National Law Institute University, Bhopal. They are doing a fantastic job so far, and I am very much looking forward to meeting them in person in Vienna in April 2020.