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.
Bhavinee Singh completed an LL.M. from the Emory University School of Law in 2018. Since then, the NIRMA University law graduate has worked with an advocacy group working on child rights, and is currently an Assistant Lecturer at Jindal Global Law School.
You opted for a master’s right after your undergrad. Did you ever consider working for a year or two before the master’s?
I developed a keen interest in the study of Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) sometime in my fourth year of Law School. It was out of this interest that I decided to go for my LLM soon after graduating.
The choice of Emory University is an interesting one – what were some of the factors you considered while selecting where to apply, and why narrow down on Emory?
My first instinct was to look at Universities which were offering Human Rights and IHL related specialisations. What stood out for me in Emory was the extremely impressive profiles of the Professors. Some of them were Professors whose writings were part of my curriculum during undergrad.
Another aspect was the range of practicum courses offered by Emory. The exposure to practicum courses leads to hands on experience with real time projects from international organisations and opens up a world possibilities that would generally remain unexplored as students. In addition to this, they have a clinical course in IHL, and the research work they did really sparked my interest.
Lastly, what really mattered was the diligence in responding displayed by everyone at Emory. They were very patient with me through all my queries and helped me at each step of the admissions process.
Did you apply for/receive financial aid?
I was offered scholarship by Emory which helped me meet my academic and living expenses in US to a very great extent.
How was the LLM experience at Emory? What were some of the more rewarding aspects of the LLM experience?
I witnessed a sea change culturally and academically in the scholastic environment at Emory.
As part of the International Human Rights Law practicum, I completed research work for the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance. As a member of the International Humanitarian Law Clinic, I got the opportunity to work with International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on their ‘IHL in Action’ Project.
I also worked as a Research Assistant to Professor Johan D. van der Vyver, which offered me a completely new perspective to sincere research. It also helped me hone my skills and work on my methodologies of research and analysis.
Further, as part of the externship opportunities offered by Emory, under which they offer credits for part time internships, I worked at The Carter Center with their Human Rights Program. Here, we were received by Former US President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Ms. Rosalynn Carter with great warmth and bonhomie.
I was also the recipient of the David J. Bederman Fellowship Award in International Law in 2018. Pursuant to receiving this fellowship, I attended the Summer Course on Public International Law at The Hague Academy of International Law.
All of these experiences immensely enhanced my overall outlook about legal education. I sometimes think back to that time and wonder how these opportunities did not just amplify my knowledge base but added so much more perspective to my being. The cultural exchanges, casual conversations and the lifelong friendships with people from across the world is something I will treasure forever.
Along with these life changing experiences, the city of Atlanta has my heart. Diversity combined with vibrance defines Atlanta which breathes life into an individual’s academic and professional aspirations.
After the LLM, you decided to join an advocacy organisation focusing on child rights. How did you find your LLM helping you in this position?
At Emory, I specialised in Human Rights Law. With this specialisation, I was exposed to an extensive academic and scholarly understanding in this field including child rights. Having a holistic understanding of the national and international law framework in terms of child rights placed me in an advantageous in the performance of my duties.
You are a faculty member at Jindal Global Law School – how do you think the Covid pandemic is going to play out for Indian law schools? Any predictions on what changes Indian law schools will have to introduce when it comes to teaching pedagogies?
The pandemic has definitely changed our teaching pedagogies. With the switch to virtual classrooms, we have had to rethink our ways of student engagement in discussions and discourse through each classroom session. Students and faculty members are all trying their best to work through this time.
In terms of what Indian Law Schools have to seriously deliberate is how to combat the differential impact of the shift to online teaching. There are students who face deficiencies in terms of infrastructural resources, such as the lack of internet facilities and do not necessarily possess the connectivity and equipment required for such learning. There is a need to develop a robust strategy for this and the responsibility rests with the Law Schools.
Lastly, any advice for the Indian law graduate who is considering a master’s abroad?
Honestly, it all boils down to the right attitude and whole hearted zeal. My first recommendation is to start early and DO YOUR RESEARCH. One has to be thorough about the course they are interested in, the Law School they want to study at and look up every aspect related to it.
Start reaching out to alumni and current students from that University and learn about their experience. Look at the courses they offer and assess for yourself if they complement your interest.
Enjoy the journey and make the most of it!
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