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.
Yash Agarwal is a candidate for the LLM in Intellectual Property Law at George Washington University , a course he enrolled for immediately after completing an LLB from Aligarh Muslim University. In this FPA, he shares some of the expectations he had from the GW LLM, the LLM experience itself, and a whole lot more.
You chose to apply for an LLM right after you completed the Indian law degree – how early did you begin the application process? And what were some of the schools you shortlisted?
During my last semester of B.A.L.L.B degree I started the application process beginning from shortlisting schools and checking their coursework, professors and application requirements. While shortlisting always remember to check for the minimum TOEFL score required.
I shortlisted three Law schools Vanderbilt law school, George Washington University Law, and the University of Southern California.
When it came to the LLM application itself, what was the most challenging bit about the entire process? Where do you think prospective applicants ought to spend most of their time when it comes to the application process?
For me it was preparing Statement of purpose(SOP) since SOP is given greater importance during selection process. Also, the scholarship is sometimes dependent on a good SOP because in that you explain your interest in the desired field, university and your previous experience and education.
Another challenging process is to get a visa appointment and get the visa itself. When I visited the Mumbai consulate for my appointment I saw some students getting rejected and I was scared but my interview was smooth. Some questions which were asked from me were the university you going to and the universities you have shortlisted with some questions relating to educational background in India.
What were some of the expectations from the specialised LLM at GWU – and now, looking back, were these expectations met?
My four expectations from a LLM degree in intellectual property were:
To gain an In-Depth Specialization and expertise in the field of IP. A lot of professionals working in IP in the US are alumni of GWU which demonstrates GW’s expertise in the field of IP.
Networking Opportunities in GW are great primarily because of the location and secondly because of the alumni network.
Career Advancement as an LLM degree in specialized field opens door to various career opportunities in United States as well as outside the states. I can definitely tell about IP field as most of the big companies around the globe want to register their intellectual property in USA and if you know the laws it would be very helpful for an individual in further career advancements.
And of course a Global Perspective and a global network as most of the LLM students in my class are from around the globe like the Middle East, Europe, South America, Canada and also from other Asian countries.
All of these expectations were met.
Not quite connected to the LLM but as a law student, you also co-founded WriterNest, an online publication covering legal news and legal developments – what prompted you to start this? And how has that experience been?
This happened during Covid when classes were online and I didn’t have much pressure so me and classmates decided to create a website. On this website we published information regarding latest news in the legal field, case briefs of landmark judgements and articles which students may submit to be published on the website.
We also hosted events on the website like poster making competition, article submissions and we also used to give prizes which include coupons of restaurants/cafes and sometimes cash prizes too.
It was an amazing experience to conduct events like these and keeping ourselves busy during such hard times. I personally managed the news section of the website which helped me a lot. Even now, I keep close eye on the legal happenings around India and the world. However, when me and my classmates graduated we got busy in our careers so the website is inoperative now.
Coming back to the LLM – what do you think have been some of the most rewarding aspects of the LLM?
The most rewarding thing which I gained is specialized knowledge in Intellectual property laws because of an extensive coursework provided by the university along with my connections with professors and alumni. GWU has been known for its IP curriculum and pursuing the LLM has made me believe this. Apart from this LLM degree has also helped me to develop personally in various aspects.
Lastly, any advice for the Indian law graduate who is considering a master’s in the US?
I would strongly suggest if anyone is considering to pursue masters in US to do a good research of the university they are shortlisting, what opportunities do the university offer and what are the further career opportunities they are looking for because you are investing a large amount of financial resources along with time and effort.
After that I started practicing TOEFL exams questions via YouTube and the ETS website. In February I appeared for TOEFL exam. Fortunately, my TOEFL score was good enough to pass minimum requirements.
Law schools in US accept applications through a common portal called LSAC. We have to create an account on this portal and upload all the documents like resume, SOP’s, recommendation letters and TOEFL Scores. Your university also has to send transcript via courier to LSAC.
Once all the documents and transcript are verified you can apply to individual law school through LSAC. I got offer letters from two universities out of the three I applied for, namely George Washington University and the University of Southern California. Since GWU is located in DC and the scholarship offered was also generous, I decided to accept the offer from GWU.