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.
Shubhra Wadhawan is a 2019 law graduate of Jindal Global Law School who is currently enrolled in the LL.M. in Corporate & Financial Services Law at the National University of Singapore. In this FPA, Shubhra shares her reasons for enrolling at NUS, the LL.M. experience itself, and a whole lot more.
Why did you apply for your masters post 1-2 years of work experience? Do you think this has helped you in the LLM program?
This is an important question. Personally, I pursued my master after PQE 2 because I wanted to be sure that I was comfortable with my chosen area of practice. This actually turned out to be a good decision, atleast for my specialisatoion, as I believe my prior work ex allowed me to approach and appreciate an advanced course and the material far better.
How did you go about selecting where to apply, and what got you to narrow down on NUS?
I began the process purely by researching the best courses in the corporate and financial services field. I further narrowed this down by selecting jurisdictions that financially made sense and that made me choose Asia.
Since Singapore is a fast paced, English speaking hub of commercial/ financial activity, it became my natural choice. CFS specialisation at NUS is among the top 10 in the world and hence I applied for the same.
Any advice in connection with the application process? More specifically, sourcing recommendation letters, and getting the documentation in time?
Haha, start in time! I started my application process very late and it was a struggle against time, at all times. Don’t do that. To be comfortable with your timelines start about two months in advance. The recommendations part was luckily easy for me as I had researched with my undergrad professors extensively and they were kind enough to offer quick support.
I would highly recommend you contact the recommenders even before you take a crack at the SOP as they might be writing multiple recommendations and last minute adjustments might just adversely affect the quality of your recommendations.
How has the LLM experience been thus far? Any highlights that you wish to share?
It’s been everything I’ve wanted and more. The NUS LLM has enriched my interests in corporate law even further. It’s been a thrilling experience having been taught by academic luminaries like Prof. Umakanth Varottil, Prof. Dan Puchniak, Prof. Poonam Puri, Prof. Jansen Calamita etc.
The hybrid model despite covid has been encouraging and the academic resources offered by NUS are par excellence.
Given that your undergraduate degree was relatively recent, what were some of the bigger changes you noticed in the learning experiences between JGLS and NUS?
The format of learning is very similar so there were not many differences in the two schools in that aspect. The NUS course however, given that it is only a 10 month course, is far more hectic and keeps you on your toes. Further, every student comes well prepared to class and there is no concept of discussing readings in the class as the lectures are advanced and focus on more complex topics.
The main difference for me then was the pace and the level at which the course proceeded and the faculty that NUS houses.
Also, sorry for veering off course, but how did you go about selecting where to stay – and any advice for prospective applicants searching for housing options?
I travelled to Singapore via a third country and so there was not much time to find an independent house, hence I landed up in the hostels. Having said that the Masters hostels are completely separate than the undergraduate ones and are independent houses that you share with 3 other masters students. Everyone has a separate room, two bathrooms and a common kitchen, dining and drawing area.
Lastly, any advice for the Indian law graduate who may be considering an LLM abroad?
I think the LLM abroad experience is not just about cultural exposure as the conventional notion goes. I highly recommend a specialised masters to anyone who wants to advance their knowledge in their chosen field.
But the realities of covid are not to be ignored. If you do end up in Singapore atleast, one must be prepared for weekly ART tests, booster shot requirements, isolation orders, dynamic safe measures, sudden online mode of education etc. while you juggle a tonne of work related stress. LLM in covid is also a mind game and one must be well prepared to stay put where they land up for a while.
It’s a highly recommended experience but one that must be undertaken after putting in a lot of thought into your end goal as the focus of this experience should be knowledge enhancement.