Harsh Mahaseth (NALSAR, Batch of ’19) on his selection for the LLM programme at the National University of Singapore

Mr. Harsh Mahaseth (NALSAR, Batch of ’19) was being interviewed by SCC Online Ambassador Mansi Meena on his selection for the LLM programme at the National University of Singapore.

  1. Please introduce yourself, your areas of interest and share your achievements vis-a-vis your acceptance to the LLM programme?

Hello, my name is Harsh Mahaseth. I am currently pursuing my LLM in Asian Legal Studies from the National University of Singapore (NUS). My areas of interest include Asian Studies and International Law.

To name a few of my achievements:

I have been honoured with the Emerging Scholar Award, the Best Law Student Award, the Bharat Leadership Award, to name a few.

I have work experience with international organizations such as UNICEF, the SAARC Secretariat, UN-Habitat, etc.

I have published with several international journals and blogs.

I participated in the Teaching and Researching International Law in Asia (TRILA) Conference organized by the Centre for International Law, National University of Singapore. The broad purposes of the Conference were to assess the current state of teaching and research in international law in the Asia Pacific Region. The Centre brought together a group of experts to contribute to the deliberations and I was the youngest to participate.

I was the Competition Director for the NALSAR – UNICEF International Humanitarian Law and Child Rights Competition

I judged the Memorial Qualifier Round and was the Presiding Judge for Preliminary Rounds 1& 2 of the Asia Pacific Regional Rounds of the 2019 Manfred Lachs Moot Court Competition.

I had applied to a few places and got accepted in all of them. I had applied to NUS, the University of Oxford, the Graduate Institute Geneva, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore and the University of Hong Kong. The programmes that I had applied to in these colleges were Asian Studies and International Law. I had even received full scholarships at some universities; however, I chose NUS because they had a better course structure for a combination of both Asian Studies and International Law and NUS is one of the best law schools in the world.

  1. 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 been fascinated by the world of International Law and International Relations. The one major hurdle was obviously the inevitable ‘there’s no career prospects in International Law’ from everyone I met. There were a lot of times that I took up corporate or litigation internships and also started building my CV in those areas due to my fear of not being able to work in the area of international law. It took a lot of reassuring myself over the past 5 years for me to actually continue pursuing this field of law.

  1. Tell us about deciding upon the course that you chose to pursue and how one should go about it?

My search began with searching for the LLM(Public International Law) as well as MSc(Asian Studies) courses. It took me months and looking through hundreds of colleges to narrow down my list. I’d say that when one is certain about their decision to pursue a Masters, they must extensively research and shortlist their colleges well in advance. One needs to prepare their CV, find referees, write a separate Statement of Purpose for each college, prepare for each scholarship application (if you plan on applying for scholarships) and extra application questions (depending upon the needs of each individual university). It is imperative to treat all these questions separately and write different answers.

  1. When is the ideal time to set your mind on pursuing LLM? How did you decide on the college?

There is no ideal time to set your mind on pursuing an LLM. I had decided to pursue one in my second year itself! As I stated earlier I decided on NUS due to the best course structure combining my interests. Also, NUS had been a dream college for me since my undergraduate applications itself. I had made it a point to come to NUS, in some capacity sometime in the future, as soon as I had been rejected for my undergraduate application.

  1. Tell us something about the timeline of the application and the commitment it requires?

Most of the applications open up around October or November. There may be some that open in February as well though. I had received my Oxford and Geneva application decisions by January/February while I had received my other acceptances in April or May.
Speaking about commitments I’d say that it’s more about the idea in your head that matters. I already had an idea of what to write for my SOPs so it did not take much time. But I did finish writing all of my application answers before the opening of the application itself!

  1. What should be kept in mind while writing SOPS, essays etc.?

The reason for your application for an LLM and why did you apply to that particular college.

  1. What according to you made your application stand out?

I think my application stood out because I honestly wrote whatever I thought about the course and the university and how I thought I could help boost the reputation of the University.

  1. What are your future aspirations? Any messages to all other LLM aspirants? 

While my plans may change over the time, currently I have decided to focus on teaching and researching. In furtherance of the same, I may go for a Ph.D. or work as a research fellow somewhere for a few years.

I would like to share a few thoughts with LLM aspirants.First, one needs to decide whether they want to pursue a Masters or not. I directly started my LLM after my bachelors and I chose the subjects that interested me and not just subjects that are relevant for my future work. At the end of the day, this may be the last degree for nearly everyone so it doesn’t hurt to do a degree in say public international law yet take up a module in insurance law because it interests you. You never know, you may actually work in the insurance sector because it really interests you.

Also, there is no such thing that a law student has to do an LLM. I have seen many LLB graduates pursue a Masters in International Relations, Economics, an MBA, etc. There are several possibilities and career avenues that open up after doing a bachelors in law for branching out. All that one needs to do is to explore their options.

Equally important is to not leave things for the last minute. What significantly helped me with my applications was the fact that I had all of my applications ready around the start of the application procedures itself!

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