Sweating the Small Stuff: Three tiny, but annoyingly vital, bits of the foreign LLM application

After observing the foreign LLM application process over the last three years, there have been a few learnings made. While I wish more of the learnings related to a successful LLM application, instead the observations have centered largely on what makes an unsuccessful one.

One of these observations is an off shoot of perhaps the most critical component of them all – time management. The effective use of what often is an extremely limited resource can really make (and break) the LLM application process.

This is particularly true when one is applying to different schools that are spread across geographies, and very often have variations in their admission requirements.

Deciding where to spend one’s time, and how much of it is to be spent per school, are decisions best made as early as possible.

Coming back to the topic at hand – what are these three annoying bits of the LLM application process.

Let’s start with the most annoying one of them all – proof of English proficiency. I am saving a rant on this requirement for another day; for now, let us just presume that the school(s) you are applying to require proof of English proficiency via one of the two standardized tests – the IELTS or the TOEFL. Let us also presume that the school(s) are not granting waivers of this requirement to Indian applicants (Will not rant. Will not rant.)

But you have heard that the test itself is not particularly difficult and hence can be taken once the more “important” sections such as personal statements, recommendation letters are done with.

You are wrong.

Take the tests as soon as you can. Get it done with.

The second annoying bit about the application process is the documentation requirements such as mark sheets, graduate certificates or even the LSAC document verification process. This can be particularly harrowing if your Indian law school is not particularly known for administrative efficiency. Or you may have graduated a while back or are in a different city or country – this can make things a bit difficult.

Again, the key here is to plan for this as early as possible. It always helps if you can ask a current student to follow up on your behalf.

The third, and final, annoying bit is the deadline.

Deadlines are irksome for multiple reasons, the principal one being that they are largely non-negotiable. What this means is that it is crucial to keep a list of deadlines within easy reach. And also set yourself a “soft” deadline, a fortnight or two before the actual deadline. This will mean that the last-minute panic will start sooner, but also end sooner. Think of it as a partial win-win situation.

To sum it up, I come back to what was said at the very start – the earlier you begin, the less likely you are to be annoyed. And stressed. And panicky.

All it takes is a little bit of effort at the very start. A little bit of effort that pays extremely rich dividends.

(This post was first published on Bar & Bench)

(Lead Photo by Jack Hunter on Unsplash)

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