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.

Smeeksha Pandey

In this FPA, Smeeksha Pandey shares her thoughts on the LLM experiences at the Hidayatullah National Law University as well as the University of Westminster, going about the LLM application process, and a whole lot more. 

(Edited excerpts)

After graduating with an LLM from HNLU, what got you considering a second LLM? What were some of your expectations from an LLM from the UK?

India whether [at the] undergraduate or post graduate level is an exam-based course to pursue. I believe as we go higher in the degree; the studies should be more based on coursework and less focused on just exams.

This was the core reason to seek out a thorough research-based course where reading and research is given an upper hand over exams in the field of International and Commercial Dispute Resolution. Research has always been my area of interest, the curiosity and the hunt gives you unmatchable wisdom and knowledge .

What were the criteria used to shortlist schools, which schools did you apply to, and what got you to narrow down on Westminster?

The criteria in my mind was simple, I did my first Masters in Intellectual Property Rights and was looking forward to change my field to Alternative Dispute Resolution. I carefully shortlisted my choices based on the course and the course structure I wanted to join.

I applied to the following institutes:

  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Westminster
  • University of Liverpool
  • Queen Mary University University of London 

My first two options were clearly based on Research Degree, Level 7 Course and I was offered January 2023 intake at University of Edinburgh and September 2022 intake at University of Westminster. The University of Liverpool was offering me Human Rights. And I did not follow up with QMUL as my prior options were sorted.

Any advice on how to go about the LLM application process? How early did you begin the application process?

The entire process takes a good one year for systematic planning and executing the same. Always remember, [the application process] may looks like an easy  thing but each process has its time limitation and if you are out, “you’re out”.

I was trying for September intake so I started working on my IELTS in September 2021. By December all my major documents were ready, that is my Statement of Purpose (SOP), and recommendations from my colleges and work place as I had 2 years of  prior experience in litigation. In January I gave my IELTS starting my ambition in a New Year. 

There is a time limit for Conditional and Unconditional Offers and you have to be careful with the same. Latest for September intake the Conditional Offer should reach you by April , Unconditional Offer by June – July and Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)  within a month with you paying the first instalment and looking for a suitable accommodation timely to avoid fuss.

Visa Application has its own journey, so keep [at least] one month for the Visa applications. And don’t forget to take a local sim there as I did (smiles)

What have been some of the more rewarding aspects of the Westminster LLM?

The most rewarding thing is – the location of college for me as you cannot be in Central London and be sad about it. Having a college just on Oxford Circus is like a dream which you don’t even know will come with its free perks .

Going inside the college the extensive online and off line library is one of the best full time facilities and the people you get to communicate from all over the world is wow. Inclusivity and Representation matters.

What are some of the bigger differences between the LLM experience at HNLU and Westminster?

The biggest difference as I see is my interest shift from the field of Intellectual Property Rights to International and Commercial Dispute Resolution. After experiencing a good trimester set up and 3 months of thorough research dissertation, I was motivated to widen my research horizons with a smooth change of my field.

Lastly, any advice for the Indian law graduate who is considering a master’s abroad? 

I would like to start by saying that more than dreams coming true it’s a reality and making you understand that you are on your own . Coming out of  the comfort of home and taking this path has its own challenges.

Life is not a fairy tale and being in London doesn’t mean you will be visiting and chilling at London Eye throughout (ha-ha pun intended) .

You have to be mindful throughout and take reasonable decisions and don’t lose the focus of your future plans because you are not coming this far….to only come this far. Keep that fire lit inside you. Shine on!