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.
Maitreyee Kulkarni graduated with an LL.M. from the Institute for Law and Finance in 2018 and is currently working as a legal counsel at Daimler AG in Stuttgart. In this FPA, the ILS (LLB ’17) graduate discusses why she opted for the Institute for Law & Finance, the utility of the CS course while working as a lawyer, and a whole lot more.
How did you go about finding employment after the LL.M.? Any advice for Indian law graduates who are also looking to work in Germany?
Post gaining work experience in India as an Associate with a CS firm and a Fintech company, I intended to develop myself further as a global professional.
When I crystallised my decision to pursue LL.M., my aim was to combine educational experience abroad with work exposure in a foreign jurisdiction.
Fortunately, I was able to achieve this through the LL.M. Internship at PwC Legal, Frankfurt and am currently working in a multicultural and multilingual environment dealing with diverse legal systems across the globe as a Legal Counsel at the Mercedes headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.
A few months prior to the commencement of the course, I began doing the requisite homework with regard to understanding the sectors that would be open to absorption of foreign lawyers. The German legal market is not an easy nut to crack given the civil law background of the country coupled with the language barrier, therefore targeted applications are quintessential.
My work experience back in India definitely helped me in bagging the roles I had at PwC Legal, Frankfurt as well as my current role. I would definitely suggest gaining work experience back home in the field one is interested in before venturing out into a foreign market. This is a value addition, not only in terms of procuring a job but also gives the applicant an edge in understanding the course curriculum.
Additionally, I would suggest reaching out to the alumni working in their target areas of interest, understand their journey and learn from their experiences/ mistakes. This should form a good groundwork for designing an action plan for oneself. Networking during LLM events and attending job fairs would definitely help in this direction.
Another pointer would be to look at the ways one could qualify the bar exam in the intended country to be better absorbed in the working environment. For instance, me and a lot of my classmates are planning to take the QLTS to qualify as a UK Solicitor for better mobility in the future.
Last but not the least, proficiency in German language is definitely an asset.
Coming to the LL.M., what were some of the expectations you had from the course? And what made you select the IL&F?
There were multiple factors which made me choose ILF over Universities in UK and US. Apart from Frankfurt being the financial hub in Europe, the most important and differentiating factor of the ILF LL.M. course was that the curriculum built in 2 months of mandatory internship.
This acted as a stepping stone into the job market which coincided with my goal. The economical factor had a role to play in terms of more value for money that I perceived.
Also, since I had majored in Finance during my undergrad & the course provided an excellent array of subjects intersecting with law and finance, it fit into my criteria perfectly.
Any advice on how to go about the LL.M. application itself?
First and foremost, would suggest giving yourself enough time for chalking out the university shortlisting process and understanding application requirements. Application cycles vary from country to country and so do application requirements.
For instance, applications to the US entail an entire LSAC Accreditation process and multiple essays which might take longer than an application to be made in Europe. LLM Guide is a helpful tool in this regard.
Keep the application original, especially the statement of purpose should spell out your own story and how your journey has led you towards the choice of pursuing LL.M. from a particular university.
Also, regarding letters of recommendation, a diverse mix of educational and professional referees who are able to highlight and reflect upon your capabilities as a student & professional from multiple facets definitely helps. I had taken LORs from my University Professors, Partners/Managers I was reporting to and a colleague I worked with for a 360-degree review.
Looking back, what were some of the highlights of the course? Anything that you found to be particularly useful and unique to the IL&F LL.M.?
Looking back, more than the course content, the pragmatic approach of course delivery through case studies, intellectually stimulating discussions with lawyers from over 20 countries, understanding intricacies of foreign law and the courage it takes to move outside one’s comfort zone are things that I will cherish the most.
I have been raised in multiple countries and have always loved the cultural exchanges that happen through these moves. The unique feature of ILF is definitely their niche in Financial law courses, excellent faculty, deep rooted connections in the industry coupled with their support to find internships which allows students to apply their learnings in classroom to the real world & venture out professionally.
Not quite connected to the LL.M., but did you find the CS course, and your undergraduate BCom degree help you in your professional career?
Definitely yes! As rightly mentioned, Law was not the first degree I embarked upon, I majored in Accounting & Finance for BCom(Hons) and was drawn towards governance aspects of business.
Thereafter, started working with a listed Company in Bangalore as a CS trainee wherein I was able to apply my knowledge of finance, corporate restructuring & securities law in the corporate domain.
Post completion of my CS qualification and to gain a more holistic picture of the legal framework in the country, I pursued the 3-year course from ILS Law college Pune. I observed there was a lacuna between the teaching methodology imparted at Indian Universities and the practical nuances of law could be best learnt by combining it with professional engagements and hence I worked throughout my LLB journey.
The combination of these degrees and work experiences have certainly added value to my journey at ILF as I was well equipped to look at the bigger picture in addition to connecting dots between finance, law and corporate governance.
The course content of CS is specialised in financial and corporate law which formed a strong foundation & helped me grasp & appreciate the international implications in a much better way. Also, since I had a business & legal background, I was offered more flexibility in terms of designing my course credits for LLM.
Lastly, any advice for the Indian law graduate who is considering a master’s abroad?
Personally, it was an enriching experience for me. Though I do not believe there is a straight jacket formula, would suggest following a studied approach regarding the course & the country. Research and analyse, reach out to the alumni to decide whether the course and country coincide with your own goals.
At the end of the day the Masters abroad will be what you make out of it.