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.
In this FPA, Tesu Gupta shares her experiences as a student of the LLM in Investment Treaty Arbitration offered by Uppsala University. Currently practicing in the Delhi High Court, Tesu has also completed an LLM from Amity University in 2020, where she focused on international trade and economic law.
The Uppsala LLM was your second LLM, after an LLM in International Trade & Economic Law from Amity Law School. What got you thinking about a second master’s? What were some of your expectations from the second LLM?
The LLM in Investment Treaty Arbitration from Uppsala University is all thanks to my mentor, the Late Prof. Dr. R.L. Kaul and his vision for me. Since my undergraduate studies I’ve always had an interest for Arbitration law, trade laws and investments, international law and this led me to pursue my first master’s degree.
Post that, I had an intention to go for a PhD.
However, while I was enrolled in ITEL programme of Amity University, only then I realised that before going for PhD I should go for an LLM abroad.
Given the specialised nature of your interest, were there any other schools that you applied to? And if so, what got you to narrow down on Uppsala?
I had made only one application while applying for Universities abroad.
While making an application in Swedish Universities, one can apply to 4 universities in one application. Besides ITA programme of Uppsala University, I had applied to the ICAL programme of Stockholm University, and European and International Trade and Tax Law programme of Lund University.
I opted for Swedish universities because of their inclination towards research oriented teaching styles and class-sizes.
With the benefit of hindsight, what were some of the most rewarding aspects of the Uppsala LLM? Also, were there any substantial differences in the learning experiences at Uppsala and Amity University?
Indeed the LLM programme of Uppsala University is very much rewarding and satisfying as one is inclined towards research. From getting to interact and learn from excellent faculty members in the field of investment treaty arbitration to presenting and discussing the issues with them, collaborating with other professionals from across the globe are few of the many advantages of the programme.
As far as the differences between both the LLMs are concerned, the programme design is the major difference. Pedagogy, classroom size, examination patterns, defending of the thesis/ dissertation also differ.
Apart from the classroom experience, were there any other aspects of the Uppsala LLM that you found to be particularly rewarding?
Apart from classroom there were extra-curricular activities. We had guest lectures, moot arbitration in collaboration with the law firms, workshops and seminars related to research methodologies & research database management. Uppsala University also has the culture of Student unions and nations.
Several student nations and student unions offer different physical activities such as soccer, floorball, yoga, and running groups.
The University also has a Student Health Centre that has health educators who work with preventive activities to promote student mental health. Every semester the Student Health Services offer seminars and courses for students.
Besides all this, the University keeps organising various lectures and conferences that are available on the University website.
Now that you have worked for a while, how do you think the Uppsala LLM has helped you in your professional growth? Do you see more lawyers and clients recognising the importance of specialised knowledge?
Yes, a specialized LLM does help in professional growth. It has helped me immensely at an intellectual level. Considering the reason that I have spent two years for LLM right after my undergraduate degree I am yet to taste the benefits on a professional level. But yes, it does give an edge and confidence.
However, there are always two sides to a coin.
Sometimes, people have a misconception that candidates with a master’s degree/ LLM want to limit themselves to an academic career. An annoying yet funny thing that I observed was that recruiters think that if a candidate has an LLM degree then she might leave the job for a PhD, which is not the case.
In fact, I have been denied of opportunities because of this.
Lastly, any advice for the Indian law graduate who is considering a master’s abroad?
Before going for a Master’s abroad, I would say that it is better to have an exposure to the “after law school” life. A practical experience in the industry, be it in litigation, law firms or corporate houses etc. helps in providing a clarity to the concepts and to the vision.
If one wants to go for an LLM that too for a foreign degree then that should be planned carefully, ideally after spending a few years in the industry of home country.