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.
Shakha Jha graduated with an LL.M. in Corporate and Financial Services Law from the National University of Singapore in 2017. In this FPA, the Symbiosis Law School graduate (’16) shares her thoughts on the value of a foreign LL.M., the LL.M. application process itself, and a whole lot more.
As an undergraduate student, when did you start considering an LLM? And how early did you start the application process?
Pursuing LL.M was never a plan until fourth year, when I got an opportunity to present a paper at a conference on International law, held in London, U.K. and during the course of writing the paper, I interacted with several academicians and legal professionals and I happened to speak with an alumnus from college who had, at that point of time, completed her LL.M from an esteemed university in UK.
I was really fascinated and intrigued by her experience and I began researching on the LL.M course, the kind of universities I would want to apply to, the coursework, world rankings, fee structure, etc.
I started the process almost a year in advance as there are a number of documents required to be procured from your university which are to be submitted as a part of the application.
How did you go about selecting just where to apply? What were the factors that worked in favor of NUS?
I was certain about two things, one, I wanted to pursue Masters in corporate and finance laws and second, I wanted to study only in a country that has common law jurisdiction so I decided to go only for the UK and Singapore. The next step I undertook was an exhaustive research over the coursework offered by each of the top notch global universities (as per the world university rankings for LL.M).
I found the course offered at NUS as the most unique and challenging one owing to the fact that it is a combination of both corporate and financial services and gives you a range of modules from both the streams to choose from, thus, well-suited with my area of law preference (as stated earlier).
Although I applied at a few other universities in the UK, I was very much keen and looking forward to getting a place at NUS and thankfully, by God’s grace, I managed to get through.
Any advice on how to go about the application process?
It is always better to apply well in advance (more than a year in advance) so that you have enough time on you to research and apply for scholarships. Also, procuring your transcripts from your university is quite often a time consuming process, so I would suggest one should plan that way ahead of their applications.
Having well drafted Letters of Recommendation from your Dean/Professors or current boss and also a strong CV are extremely helpful.
Did you apply for/receive financial aid?
Due to paucity of time, I only applied for the NUS scholarship which unfortunately, I was not able to secure.
How was the LLM experience at NUS? What were some of the most challenging aspects of the course?
It was an extremely insightful and an invigorating experience. The amount of reading material that was provided to us as a part of each of the courses, was humongous so reading all of it was very challenging and even the assessments were very much in contrast to the traditional way of taking handwritten exams back in India.
At NUS, we used to have 24 hour open book exams, video making, preparing opinions for real life cases at hand, surprise quizzes, etc. which were although demanding, but absolutely interesting and fun.
You also interned at Sidley Austin for a month as an LLM candidate – how did you go about this? Was it difficult to balance the internship as well as course requirements?
I was very keen on getting some practical international exposure so I prepared a list of the popular local and international firms based out of Singapore and began applying through their respective official websites.
I initiated the process sometime in October, two months ahead of the designated winter break in December. I was fortunate enough to intern at one of the best international law firms and work under some great partners. It was not difficult to balance it with the course requirements as I interned only during the winter break.
Looking back, how has the LLM shaped your professional growth?
The LL.M helped me procure an international internship during my course and later, I was able to get a job offer at a boutique law firm based out of Mumbai, within a month of my graduation.
Moreover, having a deeper understanding and learning of some of the subjects pertinent for the corporate and financial law practice such as International commercial arbitration, project finance, advanced contracts, securities law, corporate tax etc., which are not taught in so much detail at the undergraduate level, have over the period of time helped me expand my mental horizons and at the same time given me a global academic perspective which I often tend to apply while dealing with both domestic as well as cross border transactions at hand, on a day to day basis.
Lastly, any advice for the Indian law graduate who is considering a master’s abroad?
I would like to reiterate that applying for scholarships will save you a lot of money so if you are considering a masters from abroad, please start your research beforehand and also, prepare a common checklist for the documents required to be submitted for the purpose of application.
Lastly, some of the universities require a TOEFL/ or an IELTS score, make sure you take a buffer for taking the exam and the release of the scores so that you do not end up missing any of the deadlines for application.
If you would like Amicus Partners to provide some personalised advice on your LLM applications, pleasefill in this form and we shall get back to you as soon as possible.