- Please introduce yourself, your areas of interest and share your achievements vis-a-vis your acceptance to various LLM programs ?
I am a final year student at the National University of Study and Research in Law, Ranchi. I have been specializing in international law at the university. My interest area is broadly human rights law, and specifically gender, sexuality and culture. I have also ventured into space law in the past year. That being said, I want to be multidisciplinary in my research and be able to navigate different disciplines with ease.
I have received offers to study human rights law at London School of Economics, University of Essex and University of Nottingham. I am waiting to hear back about scholarships and will decide where I want to be based on the kind of financial aid I am offered. I also hold a few job offers from a few think tanks in India. If I am not offered enough financial aid from the universiites, I will join a gender justice based organization and try again in a couple of years.
- What has motivated you to pursue LLM in the chosen field of law? What were the major hurdles you had to overcome?
I have always valued academics and the decision to get a higher degree in human rights law was majorly based on my desire for academic enrichment. Besides, I have found my calling in human rights research and activism and the opportunities a higher degree opens in the field are immense. I had majorly applied to the universities in the United Kingdom.
To be honest, the only hurdles in applying to foreign universities are the financial resources required. University applications and the English efficiency tests are expensive. Needless to mention, university tuitions are very high. To be able to study in these institutions is a privilege. That is why keeping up to date with scholarships is very important. Apart from the economic concerns, I have been very fortunate. I have received excellent guidance from my teachers at NUSRL and the entire process has been quite smooth so far.
- When is the ideal time to set your mind on pursuing LLM? How did you decide on the college?
I knew that I wanted to be a human rights lawyer by my second year in college. By my third year, I had decided that I will apply for a degree in human rights law. It took me about a year to finalize the universities I wanted to apply to, get my documentation together, write my personal statement and get good references. Ideally, one should be able to dedicate at least a year to the pre-applying stage. The post-application stage takes another year or so.
The universities you want to apply to depends on the discipline you want to study and the kind of opportunities you want to grab while you are there. The universities I applied to have the best human rights programmes and offer optimal chances of engaging in good research.
- Tell us something about the timeline of the application and the commitment it requires?
The process is fairly straightforward. The primary thing to do is finalize the courses you want study. Based on that decision, you pick the universities you want to apply to. This decision should ideally be based on the modules offered, professors that teach at the university and the kind of opportunities that the centres and societies of the university offer. Next, get your documentation together. This includes an impressive resume, references and a personal statement. You may also need to take an English efficiency test. TOEFL and IELTS are the most accepted ones. This test may be waived off upon application at the university’s discretion. Next, you just need to apply and wait. The entire process requires a lot of patience and consistency.
- What should be kept in mind while writing SOPS, essays etc.? What according to you made your application stand out?
Referees need not be famous people you have interned under. Your referee should know you, your work and work ethic.
Personal statement (or a Statement of Purpose) is the most important part of the application. Your personal statement should tell your story. It should introduce you and your passion for your discipline vividly. There is ample guidance on writing a good personal statement out on the internet, but be smart and consult people who have been through the entire process. Keep writing, rewriting and editing the statement until it is perfect.
As of me, I believe my work experience in human rights research and litigation made my application stand out. I have utilized my internship breaks to work on issues I am passionate about. I also have good research credentials and an impressive class rank on my resume, which helped.
- What are your future aspirations? Any messages to all other LLM aspirants?
I want to be engaged in creative research and writing. I am also keen to delve into inventive and innovative means of human rights activism. That being said, I also want to keep my mind open to any new opportunity that comes my way. I am all in for discovering and understanding new disciplines. A year ago, I had almost no knowledge of space law and today I am a few steps away from getting published in a major English journal on outer space law. I hope law and life keep surprising me.
For all the LLM aspirants, all I have to say is that grades matter, yes they do! Be consistent with your grades. More importantly, figure out your area of interest as soon as you can. Use internships as means of understanding your passion and interest. If you know what you want to study and what you want to do with your degree, there is nothing that can stop you.