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.
Vassupradha Rengarajan is an LL.M. candidate at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. After completing an undergraduate degree in law from Sastra University, Vassupradha worked for three years before enrolling for the master’s. In this FPA, she discusses her reasons for choosing ASU, what prospective LL.M. applicants ought to keep in mind, and much more.
At what point in your career did you start considering an LLM? Were you interested in this even as an undergraduate student of law?
I became interested in doing an LLM ever since my final year of law degree in India. After 2 years of law firm practice in India, I was sure about my decision of pursuing an LLM in the United States.
How did you go about selecting just where to apply? What got you to narrow down on ASU?
I had to consider other personal and family circumstances while selecting universities to apply. So I took my time to carefully analyze the pros and cons before applying to the universities. I visited ASU in person before applying for an LLM to make an informed decision.
I liked the infrastructure, faculty members and flexibility of ASU and I decided to go for an LLM at ASU.
Any advice on how to go about the application process, more specifically the statement of purpose, and the recommendation letters?
It is important to articulate the interests and achievements without losing one’s originality. I personally do not believe in using too many adjectives and sugar coating the application materials.
As far as I have learned from the admission committee, it is good if the applicant is able to clearly demonstrate the following questions.
- Why an LLM?
- Why this institution?
- Why should the candidate be offered with an admission?
- What are the future plans? and
- How efficient the candidate is in studying in a foreign soil with multicultural classmates?
I personally advise LLM aspirants to have a story to indicate and answer all the above questions. With regard to recommendation letters (LOR), some universities like ASU give more importance to the LORs.
It is always advisable to get a letter from one of the Professors who directly evaluated the candidate during the law degree in India and another letter from the employer/ senior who directly supervised the candidate’s work.
Did you apply for/receive financial aid?
Yes, I applied for a scholarship and I received Dean’s Scholarship which partially covered my fees.
How has the LLM experience been thus far? What have been some of the more challenging aspects of the course?
This LLM has been one of the best experiences I have had so far. It definitely improved my communication and people skills and ability to thrive well in the field of law. Perspectives are important in the field of law and I feel, the LLM has presented to me different perspectives in huge quantity and quality.
The major challenge I faced during the course: I had to compete with the JD students. They have much more experience and depth in the US legal system and it was a challenge initially to get hold of the system.
Another challenge which is less spoken about is the language/ communication skills. It is not just enough to be fluent in English, it is also highly important to understand various accents of English. The candidate’s accent should also be familiar to others for efficient communication. This is an initial challenge which will be gone by the time we graduate.
With the Covid pandemic, how has ASU adapted to the changing circumstances? How has the switch to online classes been?
ASU has been wonderful in handling the COVID-19. Classes were handled through Zoom and they have made every possible resource (books, study materials, etc.,) virtually available. It felt different in the beginning, but the online classes were conducted as efficiently as the in-person classes.
Lastly, any advice for the Indian law graduate who is considering a master’s abroad?
A foreign LLM is a costly decision in terms of money and time. So, you better have a basic plan about what do you want to do after the LLM. Please talk to as many LLM graduates as possible to understand whether the LLM is going to be helpful in achieving your long term goals.
For instance, if the candidate is interested in practicing law in the US after LLM, weigh the pros and cons of choosing an LLM over a JD degree. Check the eligibility requirements for taking the Bar examination.
Ask yourself why do you really want an LLM and whether it will bring you a step closer to your goals. Without having answers to these questions, choosing an LLM may not be beneficial but burdensome.
Having said that, I personally believe that LLM is a great experience and an excellent opportunity to improve one’s skill set. If you can afford the opportunity in terms of money and time, please go for it! All the vert best 🙂
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.