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.
Diya Mehta is currently pursuing an LL.M. from the University of Cambridge. The 2019 LLB graduate from Jindal Global Law School shares her thoughts on the Cambridge LL.M. application process, how she shortlisted her law schools, and a whole lot more.
Before getting to the LLM itself, let us discuss the LLB. What prompted you to take up the LLB course after your undergrad? Looking back, has it been a rewarding choice?
My undergrad degree had certain law subjects that sparked my interest in the course. By the time I graduated I knew I had to make my career in the legal field and so decided to pursue LLB at O.P Jindal Global University.
I think my time and exposure at O.P Jindal had a massive role to play that pushed me towards getting an LLM. It acted as a necessary catalyst and that is from where I embarked my journey towards getting a Masters. Jindal provided me with the opportunities that helped me know my potential and helped me file my skills-set. From working as a teaching assistant to participating in moots, it made me reach where I am today.
As for the LLM, when did you start considering a foreign master’s? Any any other schools that you looked at?
The atmosphere that Jindal provides is such that you will want to work hard and push the envelope. The professors are friendly, supportive, and so inspiring that you find yourself wishing to be like them. And for me the journey began in the first semester of LLB itself. That’s what impelled me to wake up every day and work towards my goals. That’s where and how I learnt that sky is the limit indeed.
My primary focus was on the US Universities and even though I had offer letters from NYU, Columbia, Cornell, and Berkeley, my plans of pursuing Masters from the US could not solidify due to the pandemic and I guess every cloud has a silver lining.
Applying to Cambridge was a shot in the dark that made it to the target.
What were the criteria you relied on for shortlisting schools?
To lay the foundations, I started with making the top 10 universities in the world my holy grail and that was certainly all or nothing for me. My next focus was the subject I wanted my specialisation in and that made me narrow down the list further.
The professors at Jindal were extremely helpful with their guidance. I gave due consideration to my long-term plans while making my final choice. Thinking ahead will come handy as LLM is an investment and you would not want to put your money where the return is not guaranteed.
The Cambridge LLM application requires applicants to be quite succinct in their submissions – any advice on how to go about this, as well as the application process itself?
In my personal experience, it’s easier to work with the applications that don’t have over the top prerequisites and limits on words counts. Easier the application process, the easier it is for you to brush up on them. Cambridge application process requires you to be concise with your submissions because they primarily look at your academics and they do demand consistency in academics for you to make a mark.
Put all the details in your SOPs that you consider will help you steal the show. Don’t be repetitive with your CVs and SOPs as both the submissions serve entirely different purpose. Your SOP needs to reflect your drive and your willingness to thrive.
The entire journey can rather be bumpy, and you would need mentors and friends around you to guide you towards right path.
Did you seek a waiver of the English proficiency requirement? And if not, how early/late did you register for the IELTS exam?
No, I did not seek a waiver of English proficiency requirement. I started my preparation in tandem with rest of the application process i.e., a year prior to submitting applications. I resorted to self-studying and referred certain online blogs. Subsequently, I scheduled my test after a month’s long preparation.
Early days, but how has the Cambridge LLM experience been? What have been some of the most challenging aspects of the course?
My time at Cambridge has been a pure bliss so far. The lecture hours are properly streamlined, and the curriculum is very engaging. It is definitely not a cakewalk and juggling between academics and social life (also your sleep schedule) can be quite draining.
But all in all, meeting new people, the way the course is structured, the professors, and the city itself has so much to offer. It has been a rewarding and a wholesome experience, where the city feels like home and people around you like one big family.
Lastly, any advice for the Indian law grad who is considering a master’s abroad?
The application process in general can be exhilarating as each law school has its individual requirements. But also, it’s not rocket science. The best course of action will be to start with the process at least a year before.
Have a plan in place, keep a tab on important dates and deadlines, pursue the professors you seek LORs from and make sure that they know you not just academically but who have confidence in your capabilities. Make sure to browse through the shortlisted universities’ website minutely.
Have a general framework in place and hone your SOPs and LORs as per each universities’ specifications. Dot the i’s and cross the t’s before pressing the send button.
Most importantly, enjoy the entire process. As draining as it sounds, it is also an experience that will get you closer to the finish line.
Lastly, I would say, dream big – dream very big.