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.
Poornima Balasubramanian is working in London as a compliance consultant. A graduate of ILS, Pune (’15), Poornima worked in Bombay for three years before enrolling for a specialised LL.M. at the London School of Economics and Political Science. In this FPA, she talks about the motivations behind the LL.M., finding employment in the UK, and a whole lot more.
Let’s start with the question you must be getting asked a lot – how does an international LLM graduate find employment in the UK? What were the lessons learnt with your own post-LLM experience?
At the outset, I didn’t decide to pursue an LL.M with the sole purpose of ‘working abroad’. I ended up applying for a few positions during the year, one of which worked out for me. I guess it’s also about being in the right place at the right time!
But I must accept that having the relevant work experience in India definitely helped me tackle the questions in the technical interview.
With regard to lessons learnt on my post LLM experience, it’s probably too soon to tell. Maybe I’d have a better answer in a year or two. One thing I have to say, every extra minute of work beyond official hours is highly appreciated and never taken for granted – that’s a change!
Close to three years after your law degree, you opted for an LLM – what was the reasoning behind this move?
Academics was always important for me. I come from a family of doctors (medical and Ph. D’s) and have seen the impact that higher education can have in shaping an individual’s personality and mindset. So an LL.M was always in the pipeline. But I just wasn’t too sure of my specialisation.
By my fifth year at ILS, I was really eager to get make the switch from classrooms to courtrooms. I realised I couldn’t do another year of academics right after ILS so decided to put my LL.M plans on hold and take up the job offer from M/s Crawford Bayley & Co. (CB).
My three years at CB gave me an insight into the diverse aspects of the legal field, ranging from family law matters to capital market transactions. Once I knew of my interest (securities regulation), I decided to take the plunge and apply for an LL.M.
What were some of the expectations you had from the LLM experience?
I wanted my LLM experience to have some practical elements and not just be theoretical. Apart from being academically challenging, LSE also adds a practical aspect to its courses, for example, an M&A class doesn’t only involve postulatory reading but also a practical analysis of some recent deals and deciphering what worked or what went wrong / could have been avoided.
I was looking forward to interacting with lawyers from different backgrounds (particularly civil law jurisdictions), engaging in stimulating discussions and improving my prowess as a lawyer.
In hindsight, I can definitely say I got more than I expected from LSE, including a lovely bunch of friends from different parts of the world.
How did you go about narrowing down on just where to apply? And why finalise on LSE?
I had applied to a total of 5 schools including LSE – two in the UK and three in the US. I looked at a bunch of aspects, (i) the reputation of the law school, (ii) got some alumni insights, (iii) profile of the professors teaching the courses I was interested in and (iv) lastly and most importantly, financial aid opportunities at these schools.
Did you apply for/receive financial aid?
I did. I am a recipient of the LSE Marchant Foundation Scholarship for the year 2018 – 19 and the RD Sethna scholarship. I wanted to pursue the LL.M using my own personal funds without relying on my parents so I did my financial planning well in advance.
Also, since I was working while applying for my LL.M and financial aid, I had to be more organised about my applications. The best suggestion I got while applying was to create an excel sheet with deadlines, set reminders for myself and weekly goals to go about the entire process of applying.
What were some of the most surprising and challenging aspects of the LL.M? Anything that prospective applicants often overlook?
The Indian education system is very different from the UK. We aren’t used to / trained at writing legal essays, dissertations, papers, etc. and that was definitely a challenge one could face during the LL.M.
Personally, I found structuring a legal essay to fit the needs of LSE a bit challenging (It’s not just applying the IRAC rule!). So I spent a lot of time working on my writing skills by attending extra writing practice sessions at LSE.
My only suggestion for prospective applicants is to accept and recognise where you fall short and ask for help. Universities are well equipped to assist you in every way possible so don’t be shy to approach the staff for help.
“My only suggestion for prospective applicants is to accept and recognise where you fall short and ask for help.”
And, a slightly more general question, what advice would you have for the Indian law grad who is considering a master’s abroad, but not quite sure about the RoI aspect?
Make sure you know why you are doing an LL.M. It is an expensive course, often considered a luxury. If your only reason for pursuing a masters is to get a job abroad – it is unfortunately the wrong way to go about it. Do a masters if you believe it will truly add value to you. If along the way you do get a job abroad, give yourself a pat on the back and grab it! Just don’t make it the only sole objective of your LL.M.
“Do a masters if you believe it will truly add value to you. If along the way you do get a job abroad, give yourself a pat on the back and grab it!”
If you would like Amicus Partners to provide some personalised advice on your LLM applications, please fill in this form and we shall get back to you as soon as possible.