Akash Gupta is working as a Research Associate in Jindal Global Law School where he teaches Arbitration courses. In addition to teaching, he also serves as the Faculty Coordinator of the Moot Court Society, Jindal Global Law School. He completed LL.M. in International Commercial Arbitration Law from Stockholm University. During the LL.M. programme, he was selected to be a member of a team to represent the Stockholm University in the 26th Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot, Vienna. The Vis Team cracked into Top 16 out of 372 teams from all over the world and received Honourable Mention for the Best Memorandum for Claimant. To prepare for the Vis Moot, the team participated in the Vis Pre-Moots in Bucharest, London, Munich and Stockholm.
1. What were/was your area(s) of interest during graduation? How did you go about developing it/them?
Since my law school days, mooting was something that interested me. and this interest propelled me to try my hand in a couple of moots before I participating in Vis Moot (East) in 2016. It was that moot that transformed and channelized my interest in International Commercial Arbitration and gave it a direction. To be sure about my interest in Arbitration, I decided to participate in Vis Moot, this time in Vienna in 2017. After that experience, , I
developed fondness towards the arena of International Commercial Arbitration. To further cement my interest, I interned with the Asian Arbitration Centre at Kuala Lumpur (AIAC). While interning at AIAC, I started working on my LLM application at Stockholm University.
2. What motivated you to pursue LLM? How does one go about selecting a University for the same?
In the Vis Moots, I observed that a plethora of professional arbitrators had pursued LLM degrees from prestigious universities around the globe. It was then that I was drawn to the idea of pursuing LLM in Arbitration. But the real motivation to pursue an LLM in Arbitration law was visualised during my internship at AIAC. While working with colleagues who were graduates from the best universities for studying Arbitration. Thus, in essence, my mooting
experience and internship were the real reason why I decided to pursue Arbitration. I decided to put my best foot forward and started honing skills required in the Arbitration.
In terms of selecting the University, I gave importance to University with a strong Arbitration programme over the general University ranking. I would advise the same to anyone contemplating to pursue LLM. For reference, I am enclosing the link to the rank list of Universities with a strong Arbitration programme. http://m2-contentieux-arbitrage-marc.uparis2.fr/Files/GAR_LLM_survey_2012.pdf
3. How should one go about writing Statement of Purpose (SOP) & Recommendation Letter (if any) & other procedures to bag admission at Stockholm University?
Before I answer, I would like to give a disclaimer that this is a highly subjective question. The following are some tips that hopefully give you an idea about writing a good SOP: A SOP should be able to give a clear picture to the reader as to why you want to pursue LLM It should throw some light on what makes you the good candidate for the programme I would not recommend looking at various SOPs. It is important to highlight what makes you a
unique candidate. Thus, focus on your own story rather than copying writing styles of various SOPs.
Recommendation Letters must be short and crisp. It should encompass three important elements:
- How long did the referee know you?
- What are growth/improvements did she/he witnessed in you?
- How strongly does the referee recommend you?This is what differentiates a generic recommendation letter and a strong recommendation letter.
Stockholm, like many other universities, has its specific requirements for admissions. They are explained on their website and should be referred without fail.
4.Please do share your experience at Stockholm University? How rigorous is the academic schedule?
My days at Stockholm University, undoubtedly, were one of the best days of my life. It was the longest that I resided outside India. Notably, the treatment received from the Swedish community was heart-warming. They were supportive and encouraging at the same time. Stockholm University provided me with an opportunity to participate in the Vis Vienna Moot again. This time around, I learnt & improved enormously on legal writing and presentation skills. We were fortunate to receive sponsorship from White & Case, a well-known international law firm, to travel to London, and Advokatfirman Vinge, a Sweden based law-firm to attend the pre-moots in Budapest, Munich, London, Helsinki and the main competition in Vienna. We were able to explore all of these countries while participating in the Pre-moots. The entire experience was an opportunity to grow professionally and personally, alike. Our Vis moot team was as diverse as it could get. Our team was truly international as there were Indian, French and Serbian in the team, headed by coaches from South Korea, Argentina and USA.
The curriculum at Stockholm University was interesting as well as challenging. These seminars were conducted on alternative weeks and were conducted by senior partners of law firms like renowned law firms including White & Case, Baker McKenzie. Another USP of the programme was the concept of ‘Mock Arbitration’. It comprised of all elements of a real arbitration procedure starting from sending Notice of Arbitration to the writing of the final award. All-in-all, it was truly an enriching experience. The lecture schedule in the first semester consisted of having a four-day week. In the second semester, we did not witness a lot of classroom lectures as we were working on our Master’s
Thesis and other legal writing assignments. It was a bit hectic for me as I was juggling Vis Moot along with the LLM curriculum. However, with the support of the wonderful faculties from the ICAL Programme, the academics went well smoothly.
5. You had participated in Vis (Vienna) International Arbitration Moot and finished in the TOP-16 category. Please do give an insight as to what went behind the scenes?
It was one of the most memorable events of my time at Stockholm University. We were fortunate to have exceptional coaches like Prof. (Dr.) Patricia Shaughnessy, Prof. Fabricio Fortese and Mr. Seung-Woon Lee.
The team found them were supportive and encouraging! . Vividly, I remember that at the very beginning of our preparation stage, Prof. (Dr.) Patricia Shaughnessy had mentioned that by the end of the moot, whole team will bond nothing less than like a family. That was proven true and I made some of my closest friends during the Vis journey.
The dark Stockholm winters did make it a little difficult to prepare for the moot. But we, nevertheless, persevered. In the end, we finished up in the Top 16 out of the 379 teams that had participated from around the world. All’s well, that ends well!
PS: Our team tag line was inspired by the 3 Idiots movie- “All is well”
6. How different is the scenario of arbitration in India than abroad?
The scenario of arbitration in India is different to that of abroad in a lot of aspects. In India, there still exist scepticism about resolving disputes through arbitration. Whereas, in abroad, ADR is preferred over judicial mechanism as it is speedy, pocket-friendly and flexible.
Unlike abroad, India does not have a specialized LL.M. courses in Arbitration law. There is room for improvement in this aspect from the arbitration stakeholders and law schools across India. In India, the record shows that the Indian parties favour the appointment of retired judges as an arbitrator instead of arbitration experts. This indicates that there is a need to strengthen the skill development of the arbitrators and influence the mindset of the people that an arbitration expert can also be a good option as opposed to the retired judges.
7. What must law schools do to generate interest in arbitration among the student community?
For starters, law schools should offer multiple ADR electives in their curriculum. No doubt, a mandatory course on ADR is offered as per BCI guidelines, the law schools need to take this a step forward, like, starting a specialised LL.M. Programme in Arbitration. Additionally, law schools should take the initiative of establishing a clinical centre. This centre would provide an opportunity for students to resolve disputes of the local people using the mediation mechanism and assisting them in the negotiation process. Such a programme will be a
win-win situation for the local community as well as the students
8. What advice would you give to the Students Who Wish to take Up Arbitration as a Career Option & what kind of skills should one have?
My advice to students would be to make sure their basics of Arbitration are clear. For that, I recommend reading expert authors like Gary Born, Martin Hunter and others. It is important to keep a tab on the Indian legislative developments, related acts and amendments. Make sure you subscribed to websites and read the latest updates. A few websites to start with would be GAR website, Investment Arbitration Review, LiveLaw. The Kluwer Arbitration Blog is an amazing resource for student as it keeps you updated on various debates happening across
the globe on arbitration-related topics. These will help students improve their arbitration knowledge. Additionally, one must attend seminars, present papers, write papers, participate in moots. In Arbitration, one requires a very strong networking skill. Arbitration is a close-knit community. Thus, brand value and goodwill can take you places in Arbitration.
9. How was your experience as the Faculty Supervisor for the event?
Participating in moots and organising moots are two differentthings. Participating in a moot is easy as you need to work for the moot independently. However, for organising a moot you are interdependent on the different stakeholders like participating universities, judges, organising committee. In the end, you learn a lot of things like how to make effective and timely decisions, how you tackle with the team disputes, conflict issues, etc. One of the good things is that you get to meet the best practitioners, scholars during the moot. Overall, the experience of participating in moots, judging moots and now organising a moot, has been
good. I am looking forward to future moots!
Video Interview of Akash can be accessed here
Akash can be reached on LinkedIn here