First Person Accounts (FPA’s) are meant to provide a first-hand account of law graduates who have pursued, or are pursuing, a post-graduate course (an LLM or otherwise) from different universities across the world.
Kavya Lalchandani completed her undergraduate degree in law from NLU Odisha in 2021, and enrolled for the MCL at the University of Cambridge that very year.
In this FPA she discusses the reasons for choosing the MCL, the MCL application process and MCL experience, and much ore.
The MCL is a fairly interesting choice – did you look at traditional LLMs and/or the BCL as well? What were some of the factors that made you choose this particular course?
I did look at traditional LLMs.
I also got an offer for the LL.M. course from the University of Cambridge, among other UK universities such as LSE, UCL etc. However, I had made up my mind for MCL before even getting the offer for the LL.M. course.
The MCL is a more specialised corporate law-oriented Master’s and more strenuous than the LL.M.
In the LL.M. course, a student has to choose 4 subjects for which the exams happened at the end of the year and in the case of dissertations as well, it was supposed to be submitted towards the end of the year.
In the MCL, we had to read 6 subjects. We could choose 4 MCL modules out of the 6 available MCL-specific modules for which there were semester-wise examinations in Michaelmas and Lent Terms.
In addition to this, we had to take the compulsory Deals course and choose one of the corporate law oriented-LL.M. full-year modules for which the examination was at the end of the course.
Moreover, the MCL had a unique pedagogy where the focus of the subjects was multi-jurisdictional and not just the UK laws. I took Comparative Corporate Governance, Corporate Taxation, International Merger Control and Shareholder Litigation as my 4 MCL modules and Corporate Insolvency as my LL.M. subject.
Did you ever consider working for a year or two before enrolling for this programme? And how early did you begin the application process?
When I started researching and talking to people about pursuing my Master’s from abroad, I got divergent opinions on this aspect.
However, I chose to pursue it right after my undergraduation.
I understood it was a big commitment at an early stage, but I was ready to take up that challenge. I wanted to make the most out of my LL.M. at that stage itself and go on to pursue my career in academics and research.
I had started preparing for the applications in the middle of the year in which the applications were due. Managing and justifying each application is not an easy task. Systematically planning around the deadlines is extremely important.
I had very supportive referees from National Law University Odisha, therefore gathering references was not that challenging for me. However, this part is beyond your control so therefore it is advised that you start approaching people early on, once you have made up your mind.
The MCL application process requires one to be fairly concise – any advice for future applicants on how to go about the applications?
In my experience, the things that are within your control, i.e., the CV and the answers to the application questions need to be to the point.
The questions that will most probably be asked for the Cambridge applications would be your career goal, reasons for applying and any other information that might be necessary for supporting your application.
The questions have a limitation on the characters that you can use, therefore put as much information as you can in the initial drafts but be ready to shorten them later on.
You should know which points are crucial to your application and your story and which could be let go off.
When it comes to the CV, try to build a holistic one. There is no one correct answer to what a ‘perfect’ CV should look like, but it always helps to show a well-rounded personality. Y
our marks do matter, the basic minimum criterion for Cambridge is for you to be in the top 3-5%, especially for fresh graduates.
It might not matter that much for experienced professionals, but it always helps.
Did you apply for/receive any financial aid?
As a part of your application, you can also apply for the Cambridge Trust Scholarships.
I did apply for them but instead, I received other merit-based scholarships from Nehru Trust for Cambridge Society and Becker Law Studentship from my college- Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge.
Since there is a Collegiate system, some of the colleges can provide you with funding according to the Course. I had made an open application with regard to filling preferences the Colleges, but you can research on what scholarships are available in different colleges and choose accordingly.
What were some of the bigger differences in the learning experiences at Cambridge as opposed to your undergrad at NLU Odisha?
NLU Odisha is a wonderful place to learn and grow. The difference comes in the teaching methods and the technology used in universities outside India generally.
In Cambridge, we focused on a multi-jurisdictional perspective and tried to find out what the law is seeking to achieve in a particular context and also delved into various policy questions. In India, we tend to focus more on what law is and how it is applied by the courts.
Furthermore, we already had reading materials uploaded beforehand, and the lectures are planned in such a way that we knew exactly what is going to be taught and could raise questions if any.
Looking back, what have been some of the most rewarding aspects of the MCL course?
I met many wonderful people on this journey, without whom I could not have enjoyed the Cambridge Experience. Cambridge taught me how to handle 10 completely different things at a time and yet enjoy at the same time. It helped me broaden my horizons of interest and research and threw things at me that even I didn’t know I could handle.
Lastly, any advice for the Indian law graduate who is considering a master’s abroad?
My only advice is that you need to choose your path wisely. You may or may not need a Master’s to reach your end goal in life. Do not take up Master’s from abroad just because it looks good and everyone else around you is doing it. Do it, because you want to and it would help you reach your end goal even if it is 30 years from now.