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.
Kirthana S. Khurana is a 2018 graduate of the Campus Law Centre at the University of Delhi, who then went on to enrol for the Masters Degree in Corporate Law offered by the University of Cambridge. She is currently a lecturer at Jindal Global Law School.
What got you interested in the study of law? And did you ever consider the undergraduate law course?
Hailing from a family in which my grandfather was a judge and my father a civil servant, I was always interested in the field of law. However, I also developed a keen interest in business and commerce in the penultimate years of school. I did consider undertaking an undergraduate law course after my 12th grade.
So, I decided to appear for many law entrance exams (as my back-up options though!) post my board exams. My CBSE Class 12 board exam results and CLAT result were declared on the same day. I topped the Commerce stream in my city by securing an aggregate of 97.2% and was able to achieve a decent rank in CLAT as well.
Since I had always dreamt of studying at the University of Delhi, I did not want to let that opportunity go. I, therefore, opted to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Commerce at Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC). In college, my love for the law was rekindled and I realized that I was inclined more towards subjects like Corporate Law, Corporate Governance and Competition Law, and therefore, I envisioned a career in the same. Consequently, I decided to pursue a three-year degree in law at Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi post the completion of my bachelor’s degree at SRCC.
Looking back, how do you think your undergraduate studies shaped your LLB experience?
At SRCC, I was surrounded by students who had been toppers and all-round achievers throughout their school lives. More than the exposure to the studies of commerce during my college days, I learnt how to handle competition in real life and make a differentiated presence among exceptionally gifted students.
I learnt the values of hard work, determination, time management, and perseverance. These virtues stood by me as I subsequently moved to law school and enabled me to focus and excel academically at college.
Additionally, a thorough understanding of subjects like accountancy, economics, international business, and financial management helped me understand the nuances of commercial law subjects at the law school in a profound manner. It helped me perform well in my LLB and masters’ exams, and I still make use of this knowledge when I conduct classes of company law as a lecturer.
What prompted you to look at a master’s abroad?
Since I had studied at the University of Delhi for six years, I wanted to top that up with quality exposure at one of the top law schools in the world for my master’s course.
Moreover, I always believed that to become a successful academician, it was imperative to get adequate international exposure for a broader vision about the subject I intended to teach.
I wanted to inculcate the teaching methods adopted by leading corporate law professors and mould my style of teaching accordingly.
The MCL is a fairly specialised course – what got you to look at this course, and what were the other programmes that you were looking at?
I applied to Oxford, Cambridge, National University of Singapore, LSE and UCL, and I received offers for almost all the programmes I had applied for.
However, the MCL was always on top of my list of preferences because of its unique pedagogy.
What attracted me the most about it was the ‘Deals Course’ in which the students were made to work on actual commercial deals, negotiate for their deemed clients and finally interact with the lawyers from leading law firms in the UK, who were actually involved with the specific deals.
Also, the smaller cohort of students (18 in my batch), course modules, networking opportunities being offered, and the faculty members on board were the other factors that gravitated me towards this course.
Did you apply for/receive financial aid?
I had applied for financial aid, but since MCL was a relatively new course, not many financial grants were available for the same.
Just one question on the application process, and one I am sure you get asked a lot – any suggestions on how to approach the “Reasons for Applying” requirement?
Just be honest! The admission committees of all universities screen thousands of applications every year; so, a generalised answer would not take you very far. The entire application process is all about introspection; you need to tell your own story. It is about identifying what sparks your interest, and in which field do you see yourself working in.
For me, it had always been academia, and this was the focal point of all my admission related essays. Since India draws a lot of its corporate law jurisprudence from the UK, I could not think of a better place to understand the roots and practical application of this field of law.
How was the MCL experience? Any big surprises along the way?
The MCL experience was indeed splendid. As most of my classmates had worked at leading law firms before coming to Cambridge, I struggled to keep up with class discussions due to lack of work experience, at the beginning of the course.
This motivated me to go beyond the prescribed reading lists and prepare well for lectures in advance. By adopting a methodical studying schedule, I was not only able to contribute constructively to class discussions but also started enjoying the same.
The MCL course is more strenuous than the LLM course at Cambridge, as we took six courses against four in LLM, and were examined thrice in an academic term. To be honest, this was extremely stressful at times. My course instructors, however, were always available to help and were extremely encouraging.
My most cherished memories were the times I spent with my classmates and professors outside the classroom, over multiple pints of chilled beer at pubs, discussing our heritage, culture, and life experiences.
As an Indian academic, how do you think the COVID pandemic will play out? Any predictions on how Indian law schools will react to these current circumstances?
The COVID pandemic has jolted the whole world, and the reverberations are being felt across all walks of life. Yet, in my view, mankind’s eternal resilience would help the world emerge out of this gloom.
As for its impact over the teaching eco-system, social distancing as an imperative has disturbed the existing situation. But I see the present situation as a blessing in disguise.
Though all of us are used to the age-old method of classroom format teaching, Indian law schools should now adapt fast and proactively introduce online education in their regular teaching system. Communication-related technology was never this supportive and can be leveraged by universities to great advantage.
We are now being compelled to discover new ways of imparting knowledge effectively with the use of technology, which is really exciting.
As we still do not know for how long this pandemic will last, law schools may even consider starting fully-online versions of their regular courses, short-term and long-term, and allow those students to join who may not be able to pursue their regular courses.
Lastly, any advice for the Indian law graduate who is considering a master’s abroad?
My advice to people who are thinking about pursuing a master’s course abroad would be to start early. Spend adequate time researching universities and the courses being offered by them. Try to talk to recent alumni and analyse whether their career path aligns with what you have in your mind. Prepare multiples drafts of your admission essays and take feedback before finally submitting them.
Also, do keep in mind that a few scholarship deadlines close much before the course application deadlines. If you have plans to work abroad after your degree is completed, conduct thorough due diligence about the country’s immigration laws and legal job scenario.
Finally, just be calm. The application process really tests your patience, so be confident and believe in yourself. Things may not go as per plan at times, but you will always get what is best for you. Good Luck!
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.