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.

Shivangi Gangwar
Shivangi Gangwar

Shivangi Gangwar is currently a PhD candidate at the University of York. After graduating from NALSAR University, Shivangi went on to pursue an LLM from the University of Chicago Law School and then teach at the Jindal Global Law School.

In this FPA, she discusses her reasons for opting for the UChicago LLM, the utility of an LLM from an academicians’s perspective, and a whole lot more. 

When you started applying for an LLM abroad, was a career in academia the end goal? And if so, how did you go about shortlisting which schools to apply to?

I knew at the end of my first semester at law school that I would opt for academia over litigation and corporate work.

Even then, a career in law was plan B for me.

My primary goal was to clear the civil services exams and it was only because I had obtained my Masters beforehand and my back-up plan was in place, was I able to take out the many years I did to pursue this goal.

I didn’t get selected for the services but fortunately for me, turned up exactly where I wanted to be!

For the selection process: I chose schools in the US because I wanted to experience a legal system different from my own. Then I chose schools that offered general LL.Ms rather than specialisations and applied to the top 5. 

With the benefit of hindsight, how did the UChicago LLM help you in your professional growth as an academic? Any lecturers/professors who had a particularly lasting impact?

The UChicago LLM has played a huge role in shaping me as an academic.

It introduced me to new fields of law that I had no idea about, law and economics and public choice being only two examples.

In all honesty, the only reason I applied to UChicago was because Tom Ginsburg taught there! His classes, along with those offered by Gerald Rosenberg, Anup Malani and Saul Levmore, have had a profound impact on me.

They’ve completely changed the way I approach pedagogy and research, and I’ve tried to consciously model my own teaching style and strategy on theirs (or whatever I remember of it!).  

I am presuming that students at JGLS asked you about applying for an LLM abroad – any thoughts on why an Indian law graduate should not apply for a US LLM?

The advice is for applying for LLMs generally and not just in the US – don’t apply for an LLM if you don’t want to emigrate or join the academia in one way or another.

Otherwise, it’s just a waste of resources.

Many students are sure that they want to work in India, either as advocates or corporate lawyers, but think (wrongly) that an LLM is going to make their CVs more attractive to prospective employers. If the goal is to travel and live in another country for some time, there are less arduous ways of achieving that.

In your current role as a PhD scholar at York University, do you find yourself falling back on some of the learnings made at UChicago, and if so, what were these learnings

Absolutely! My PhD research is based entirely on the fields that I was introduced to during my LLM.

If I had not signed up for ‘Economic Analysis of Law’ during my first quarter at UChicago, I would definitely not be doing the work that I’m doing today.