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.
Ankita Rath is graduate of the SVKM School of Law, NMIMS (’18) and is part of the LLM Class of 2020 at the Boston College Law School. In this interview, Ankita discusses the LLM application process, her own LLM experience at BC Law, what prospective LLM applicants ought to keep in mind, and a whole lot more.
Were you considering a foreign LLM right after your undergrad? Or was the plan to always work a while and then apply?
I had always planned on pursuing my LLM abroad. I planned on going for my Masters, within a year after I finished my undergrad so that I could work a little bit before I could start with my Masters.
I was afraid, I will not want to get back to school, once I started working full-time.
The Boston College of Law is an interesting choice – how did you go about selecting just where to apply? What were some of the reasons that got you to narrow down on Boston College?
When I decided to begin with my applications for LLM, I prepared a very detailed excel sheet, with law schools across USA, Canada and UK that had distinguished LLM programs, especially in Human rights.
It took me close to a month only to prepare the list of law schools, rankings, the eligibility criteria, the fees, the availability of scholarships, deadlines, etc. In my opinion, having a detailed layout of applications is very important, as it makes sending out applications, and subsequently the decision of finally picking out “THE ONE” relatively easier.
“In my opinion, having a detailed layout of applications is very important, as it makes sending out applications, and subsequently the decision of finally picking out “THE ONE” relatively easier.”
I started receiving my acceptance from a couple other schools early in April, and I had to make a decision by the first week of May. I will admit, it was a tough call since the other schools that I got accepted into were equally good. However, when I finally decided to pick Boston College Law School, I referred back to the excel sheet to compare it with the other schools that I got accepted into.
Considering the ranking of BC-Law, the scholarship that I was awarded and the location of the college, being in a diverse and intellectually sound state like Massachusetts, I was inclined to pick BC-Law. Additionally, the Human Rights Program that I wanted to pursue, had great courses, taught by very experienced professors.
Any advice on how to approach the application process itself? More specifically, the statement of purpose and recommendation letters.
Time is the essence of law school applications. Most law schools unofficially start accepting applications for the forthcoming year, after the commencement of the Fall semester immediately.
When one is applying for a Masters abroad, it is important to bear in mind that most seats are offered on a rolling basis, so it is always better to be prepared well before the deadlines. Procrastination in sending out applications may not always end well.
The most cumbersome process in the applications is writing the Statement Of Purpose(SOP). SOPs are also known as Personal Statements, so it must reflect one’s true self, and how your life has led you to the point where you are finally sending out this application . To be honest, I spent countless hours, writing several drafts of my SOP, and then so many weeks getting it reviewed, before I could finally convert it to PDF.
“To be honest, I spent countless hours, writing several drafts of my SOP, and then so many weeks getting it reviewed, before I could finally convert it to PDF.”
The SOPs are always read by the law schools, I repeat, ALWAYS. The SOPs bridge the gap between your resume and personal interview. Therefore, having enough time to write a good SOP is very important.
The Letters of Recommendations(LOR) are equally significant in an application. I would suggest anyone applying to at least have three LORs, 2 academic, and 1 professional. The academic LORs should preferably be from professors of the same field that you are hoping to apply in.
The professional LORs should ideally be from an employer who has known you for a good amount of time. The LORs can be a true game-changer in applications.
Did you apply for/receive financial aid?
I did receive a significant amount of financial aid through the Dean’s Merit Scholarship, along with my acceptance into Boston College Law School.
How has the LLM experience been? How has BC Law reacted to the Covid pandemic, and how have you found the shift to online teaching?
My LLM experience at Boston College Law School has been impeccable. The professors, the students, the entire community at BC Law has been very welcoming. BC Law has a host of mentorship programs that were particularly very helpful for me. In terms of picking out the courses, networking, helping out with outlines, to even finding a good place to have chai and samosa, you always have mentors who are willing to help.
Apart from that, all professors have office hours, which makes it easier for students to pick their brains outside of class. The pedagogy of all courses are very meticulously prepared by the professors to cover the fundamentals as well as cater to the needs of the dynamic world with respect to each course.
“The pedagogy of all courses are very meticulously prepared by the professors to cover the fundamentals as well as cater to the needs of the dynamic world with respect to each course.”
The outbreak of Covid-19 has been very challenging for all of us. BC Law, like most schools resorted to remote learning. Honestly, it has been pretty hard trying to substitute an in-class experience, to one across the laptop screen. They implemented teaching methods that were more lucid. The professors and the entire community at BC-Law have tried their best to be supportive of this situation and more than prepared to help at all times.
Lastly, any advice for the Indian law graduate who is considering a master’s abroad?
Choosing to move across the globe to pursue a Masters is not an easy decision to make. There are way too many factors to weigh and ensure that you get your money’s worth during the course and after the completion of the same. I am not sure if I have any life-altering advices, but there are a few things that I wish I did.
Firstly, having a good work experience, i.e, 2-3 years before pursuing a Masters abroad is very helpful, if you are planning on seeking a job after. Secondly, while choosing the law school, please do not ignore the location and the market for your industry in that location.
“While choosing the law school, please do not ignore the location and the market for your industry in that location.”
Networking is very important in the legal profession, so being in a location that will give you relevant networking opportunities is always a bonus. Thirdly, do not panic-apply. I mean, applying to multiple schools is a reflex action when you think about Masters abroad, but please be sure of the schools you are choosing to apply, and make sure, all your applications are curated to the specifics of the school you are applying.
My last piece of advice is for all Indian grad students hoping to pursue an LLM abroad. If you are planning to pursue an LLM abroad, make sure you and use this opportunity and make it into a milestone of your life.
However, I should also mention that, in case, due to any reason, (mostly Covid-19), you do not get in, do not lose hope, as it is a mere setback, not the end. Trust me when I say this, it is a long life, and we are pretty much going to be lawyers for most of 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.