As most readers know by now, First Person Accounts (FPA’s) are meant to provide a first-hand account of Indian law graduates who have pursued, or are currently pursuing, a post-graduate course (be it an LLM or otherwise) from different schools across the world.
The FPA (International) is meant to broaden this scope somewhat, getting non-Indian law graduates to discuss their LL.M. experiences in different law schools from across the world. The idea behind the FPA(I) interviews is to help the Indian law graduate better understand her potential cohort, and also expand the LL.M. conversation in general.
Sharareh Dastmalchi is an Iranian law graduate who recently completed the International Dispute Resolution LL.M. from the Humboldt University of Berlin. In this interview, she discusses her reasons for enrolling for this particular master’s, the course itself, and a whole lot more.
The IDR LL.M. is your second master’s course in law. What made you take the first master’s course, and what were some of your expectations from the second master’s?
I wanted to broaden my knowledge on international commercial law and strengthen my research skills. I pursued the LL.M. to enter into the career market, and specialization in the topic always plays a significant role to get a position.
Due to the two mandatory modules during my bachelor and first master’s, I had got some information about international arbitration. I have been always passionate about it and wanted to enter to the arbitration community.
After accomplishing my first master’s, I could start my career under the direct supervision of one the prominent Iranian arbitrators in well-known Iranian law firm which specialized in international matters. During my job, I was involved in arbitration cases as an assistant and researcher.
That was the time that the idea of pursuing my studies in international dispute resolution took place. I also gained some knowledge about this field during extra courses and international workshops that I had participated in. However, obtaining a degree is an experience totally different from any extracurricular course.
Considering the theoretical and practical aspects of the IDR LL.M. curriculum, I expected to achieve first-hand information from renowned lecturers and practitioners. Moreover, I was looking forward to build strong networks within the dispute resolution community and also gain some international practical experiences.
Given the specialised nature of the course, what were the other schools (if any) that you shortlisted? What made you narrow down on Humboldt University?
I got admissions from two other schools that I had applied for: MIDS Geneva and Leiden University. I could also get the Leiden University Excellence Scholarship.
However, I was determined to join the IDR LL.M. program at Humboldt University of Berlin since it was the second time that I had received an admission from the program. The first time, I could not join it due to the long queue of visa interview appointments in Iran.
So, it was a programme that I have waited for almost two years!
Moreover, the curriculum of the program was a balance of theory and practice with a strong concentration on arbitration. On the other hand, the small size class makes the engagement of every students possible. Thus the students can enjoy the interactive courses and bring up their questions easily.
On the application front, any advice on how to go about writing the personal statement? As well as sourcing recommendations?
It is important to be organized, to sort out what kind of qualifications are needed from the university’s side. You need to make the personal statement as personal as you can, narrow it down to the issues that might play a vital role for the process of decision making of admission committee rather than noting down your CV again.
In respect to the recommendations it would be really important to choose an academic referee or practitioner who knows you perfectly and could highlight your considerable qualifications and characteristics.
Did you apply for/receive financial aid?
I did not apply for financial aid, since I were not aware of its availability. I have also searched for the external scholarship opportunities, but those mostly needed German language qualifications.
Looking back, what were some of the most rewarding aspects of the course? Do you think your expectations from the course were met?
The most rewarding aspect of the course was the close bonds formed with the international and German dispute resolution community. I had the opportunity to learn from the best; we had lecturers from ICC, DIS, PCA and many well-known law firms.
By accomplishing internships in two prominent law firms, I could say that I could get the best out of the course.
Going ahead, how do you see yourself using the IDR LL.M. for your own professional growth?
The knowledge and experience that I gained during the IDR LL.M. could benefit me in my career. It also made me more comfortable with an integration into a multi-cultural and international environment.
Lastly, any advice for other international LL.M. candidates who are considering this particular course? Anything that they should be aware of before leaving their home country?
I would highly recommend candidates to ask for their superior graduates about their experience. It is important to know how you could utilize the LL.M. opportunity best.
Moving abroad and experiencing new cultures can be an enjoyable experience when you learn to be patient, tolerant, flexible and open-minded into the changes.