Mili Baxi on being selected for masters at London School of Economics

Mili Baxi graduated from Institute of Law, Nirma University in 2018, following which I worked at Nanavati and Co. in Ahmedabad as a junior advocate to Mr. Maulik G. Nanavati. She has been interviewed by Akshita Totla.

  1. Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Well, I am a Student of Law. I graduated from Institute of Law, Nirma University in 2018, following which I worked at Nanavati and Co. in Ahmedabad as a junior advocate to Mr. Maulik G. Nanavati. To follow my academic goals and further my professional skills, I have decided to pursue Masters.

2. Which were the other universities that you had applied to? What was your criteria for selection of the college? Which college have to decided upon? Tell us about the program you will pursue.

I had narrowed down my area of interest as Human Rights Law and legal theory. I had applied to University of Essex, London School of Economics, National University Singapore and Geneva Academy for their respective programs on Human Right Law, International Law and Comparative Law and Transitional Justice, Rule of Law and Human Rights law. I had selected these colleges based on the content of their programs, faculty members, opportunities for clinical exposure and placement etc. Every college has some unique feature that may be of interest to you. For instance, University of Essex has a robust Human Rights Clinic where as Geneva academy has interesting thematic exposure. I have decided to pursue masters of law at London School of Economics. It was not a very difficult choice, as LSE was my first preference. LSE has a distinct place in global academics. I was driven by their perspective of viewing law as a social science. Its motto – “rerum cognoscere causas” means ‘to know the causes of things’. I think its one thing to read the law and another to be able to know the law.My objective to pursue higher education was to gain edge over research skills and LSE’s approach towards law was most in tune with my academic and professional goals.

3. How should an aspiring student go about the application process? Tell us about the timeline of the application.

Mostly all applications for the next academic session starts between September to December. Some colleges have deadlines, while the others are on rolling basis. So check the websites and timelines for the colleges you are interested  in applying to. Assuming that you are still a student, I will enlist few basic steps for your reference:

  1. Narrow down your area of interest.
  2. Make a list of different programs by different colleges which are suitable to your preferences and interest based on preliminary research. Read the information given on college’s website, LLM guide, Masters portal etc.
  3. Try contacting the seniors or students who have already studied Masters in college of your preference. Ask them about any of your legitimate concerns or queries.
  4. Make a list of Documents and check the availability of the same. In case you are still in fourth year, then you will have to apply for provisional transcript. For this check with your institution and adjust your timeline accordingly.
  5. Take English eligibility tests: like IELTS/ TOEFEL. Many students ask for waiver of this conditions.
  6. If you are applying to USA, then you will have to create an LSAC account and send documents to them for verification. So do check their website out.
  7. Check with your references and provide them with sufficient information about your relationship with them, which courses you have studied with them and acclimatise them with your career objectives.

8. How did you plan your Statement of Purpose? Please share some tips for a successful application.

The first tip which may make all other tips redundant is that you have to customise your Personal Statement or Statement of Purpose. Its about writing your journey and experience with law. Also most university websites give outline about what they are looking for. For instance, as a part of application at LSE, you have to submit a 1000-1500 words personal statement detailing your academic interests, purpose and objectives of undertaking graduate study, why are you interested in that particular program, relevant experience, suitability for the program (skills and knowledge that makes your candidature more credible) and future plans. I would advise that you check the websites of your preferred universities for ascertaining the criteria to write an SOP.

 9. Did you try for scholarship? Tell us about the intricacies of scholarship.

Yes, I applied for Scholarships. I applied for in-house scholarships (which are offered by the University itself) as well asinstitutional scholarships(which is given by organisations such as TATA, INLACS, Chevening, Felix, Agha Khan (loan scholarship)  etc.)

For university of Essex, I received Academic Excellence Scholarship. You can be considered for this scholarship automatically. London School of Economics offers funding through its Graduate Support Scheme. For this you have to fill up Graduate Support Scheme Form which is available on its portal. The funds under this scheme are limited and hence it is advisable to fill up this form as early as possible. Apart from this LSE offers two scholarships for Indians namely; Masters award and Marchant Foundation award. There is no separate application for this. Interested candidates have to expressly state their interest in being considered for these awards while filling up the Graduate Support Scheme Form.

I had also applied for the JN Tata Endowment for the Higher Education of Indians. The applications for this scholarships open in the month of February and close somewhere between 10-15th March. First one has to send a Statement of Purpose along with supporting documents and recommendation letter. While writing a scholarship statement one has to keep in mind whether the scholarship is a means based or merit based one or mix of both. JN TATA scholarship is primarily merit based (whereas the LSE’s Scholarship is means based- so focus has to be on financial need apart from listing your academic credentials). Once your application is shortlisted, you have to take an online test. Test is based on logical reasoning and mainly constitutes of basic numeracy questions. Finally, there is an interview.

10. How to maintain good grades? Do they matter in the selection process?

I would recommend one to have decent grades as some top colleges weed out applicants based on their performance during under-graduation. They can help in selection process as they are perceived as a direct testament to your academic sincerity, but its not the only important factor. Also you can always make up for grades if you are able to show your passion for the area of your interest through moot courts, research papers and work/internship experience.  The answer to how to maintain good grades might be to read regularly, pay attention during class, make notes and be up to date with the reading material provided.

11. How important is work experience in your opinion?

I think work experience can help you get some clarity. But this is completely upto you.

12. What are your plans at the university you choose? What are the future plans after the Masters?

At LSE, my goals are to work on my research skills and have a more holistic understating of law. During my course, I wish to focus on refugee and international human rights law and hope to connect these themes to broader issues of Climate Change. I am also interested in learning various teaching techniques (Harvard style teaching method etc.). My plan was to gain some international work exposure. But given the COVID-19 impact on the world economy, I think I will have to make some changes and alterations to those plans. Whatever it is, I hope I am able to do justice to the profession and make some meaningful contributions.

13. What advice would you like to give to an aspiring Masters student?

I would just say it is not a very difficult process, so don’t stress about it. And also ALL THE BEST!

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