In conversation with Ruchira Bali on pursuing LLM from Trinity College, Dublin

Ms. Ruchira Bali recently graduated from Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad and is currently pursuing Masters in Law from Trinity College, Dublin. She has been interviewed by EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador Divya Chowdary Vattikuti who is currently pursuing law from DSNLU. 

  1. Before proceeding further with the interview would you please take a moment to tell our readers about yourself and your journey as a lawyer?

 I would love to share every bit of my experience with my fellow law students. During my undergraduate degree at Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad I had always engaged myself in various curricular and co-curricular activities such as moot court competitions, writing research articles, essays, got myself involved in various clubs and societies and have also participated in football competitions  at both intra- and inter-college level. Having said that I have learnt through various ups and downs that education, in peculiar law education, is not just about sticking to books, but it’s a dynamic process, you engage and evolve by observing your surroundings, develop yourself through sharing your perspectives with your peers and colleagues at various places you intern in.

I have interned at various law firms, NGOs, Law Schools and have also been a part of various online internships and I feel that these things give an incentive for you to expand your horizon in different areas of law and identify in which area you would like to work in. For me, I enjoy working on banking matters, litigation, humanitarian law issues, data breaches and privacy, trade law, aviation, space and public international law matters.

I have decided to pursue a career in public international law and for which I will apply for a PHD position, as a paractioner and an academician in future, I would want to contribute significantly in how the students learn, contribute their original ideas from the materials that they are given.

I am also preparing to give bar exams in Ireland and New York, USA as these places have carved a niche for themselves in the area of international politics, affairs and laws.

I have always kept a mantra for myself that no dream is too high or low, break the barriers as you would want to attain those goals.

  1. What contributed to your decision to pursue law?

My main motivation to pursue law was to be able to attain justice on behalf of the weak and the marginalised section of the society, of being able to correct the erroneous stances being taken in the lawyering profession and honestly I was always fascinated by the international affairs hence, the decision to pursue law. Earlier, I was more into entering corporate law, however, over the period of my internships I realised my true calling lay ahead in litigation and academia and in peculiar the upcoming area of aviation law has also drawn my attention widely.

To be able to critically analyse various provisions of laws and then interlinking it with sociological and historical aspect is a skill in itself and hence, to develop those skills, to be better aware of my rights and duties that I have towards my nation and global community at large I was motivated to pursue law.

Apart from this, I used to be inspired by the likes of human rights lawyer, Amal Clooney, Karuna Nundy and Harish Salve, and hence, to be able to stand up for what is the right thing to be done I decided to pursue law, to learn and enhance my art of advocacy, critical thinking skills, being able to put forth my points and for my personal development.

  1. Please tell us briefly about your schooling and college life, especially Symbiosis and Trinity College, Dublin?

I pursued and completed my higher secondary and senior secondary schooling from a boarding school in Himachal Pradesh and my undergraduate BBA LLB degree from Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad. During  both my school and college life, I have been able to engross myself into various co-curricular and curricular activities such as sports, MUN ing, dancing, student editorship, and various other home science related activities such as: cooking, designing and stitching activities.

My life at Symbiosis always surrounded developing bonds with my fellow batch mates, engaging in knowledge development through plenty of resources provided by library and Learning Resources Facility and the best part of the college life was the ample amount of effort professors put in to inculcate a habit of curiosity and developing innovative solutions to legal problems. Research and Publication Cell at our college, would help us analyse the quality of our papers that could be submitted for publications and seminars.

Additionally, commencing my postgraduate studies at Trinity College, Dublin amidst the pandemic has made us realise the importance of digital education and how our institutions are adjusting to the new normal. The professors and the institution have so far been very accommodative of the changes that were needed for us to adapt to the learning and interactive process online through a portal called the Blackboard which enables us to attend live lectures and re watch the recorded lectures and the best part about being part of the Trinity College, Dublin community is that the kind diversity of webinars are organised and the various workshops to enhance our academic skills and professional advices needed to advance our career are organised on a regular basis, which is a very good initiative amidst all the uncertainty the evolving pandemic situation holds for us. There have been various assisting postgraduate learning modules developed for us to have an idea about Irish system and EU System in general that has been of immense help in starting my studies.  Additionally, we can access the library and the reading rooms for study hours provided we take the permission online and with proper security and precautions in place keeping in consideration the ever evolving government of Ireland guidelines.

The student living accommodation where I stay – Binary Hub, has various online events organised to support us both socially and mentally during these tough times and to keep us engaged productively and of immense entertainment.

  1. What are your views on the prospects of foreign LLM? (suggested discussion points: Indian LLM versus foreign LLM and job prospects in India post foreign LLM)

It is a very frequently asked question and I feel that certain considerations should be kept in mind before pursuing the idea of applying for an LLM Program and they are as follows:

  • Choice of the university,
  • Ranking of the university
  • Geographical region
  • Cost of living and tuition fees.
  • Scholarships available.
  • Loans and other financial support available.
  • Practical value versus academic knowledge.
  • Career Path – Corporate Advisory, Transactional, Litigation, Civil Services, NGOS, IGO Consultant, Academia, etc.- Do a proper research on your career choice and what postgraduate degree is required to be able to pursue that field.
  • Research output index.
  • Examination and process required to be eligible to practice law in a particular jurisdiction and other eligibility criteria.
  • Safety and security.

Pursuing LLM from a foreign university is an expensive decision and can only be made if you are willing to commit your efforts towards submission deadlines and willing to work your way up to meet the tight qualitative requirements of wok output, then it sure is a right choice for you. An LLM from an Indian University is equally good and it is quite competitive to get a place on the same through examinations like CLAT, AILET, LSAT, etc. The only difference that lies is that to get global exposure and to learn about being independent and to hustle harder, A FOREIGN LLM IS SUITABLE!

To defer the choice or not defer, is a big decision requiring the financial considerations to be taken under purview, however challenging it may be sounding, it will turn out to be fruitful, for it is the tough times that builds a warrior.

  1. Which were the other universities that you were considering and had applied to? What were your criteria for selection of the college? (suggested discussion points: reliable ranking list?)

Apart from Trinity College, Dublin the universities that I was considering were:

  • London School of Economics
  • Kings College, London
  • Queen Mary University of London
  • Cardiff University
  • University of Glasgow
  • Leiden University
  • NUI Galway
  • UUC, Cork
  • NUI Galway
  • UCD, Dublin

They were based on my choice of course and faculties teaching over the area. Research output was the main criteria that influenced my decision to opt for Trinity College, Dublin, and its resources are at par excellence and the scholarship granted by the college was also one of the conducive factors of motivating me to go for my masters amidst the pandemic. Additionally, it has the following accreditations to its credit:

  • Trinity College Dublin is Ireland’s No.1 University – QS World University Ranking 2021; Academic Ranking of World Universities 2019
  • Trinity is ranked 101 in the World by the QS World University Ranking 2021
  • Trinity is ranked 155 in the World by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021

The serene beauty of Ireland and cultural exchange that takes place in the city of Dublin is unmatchable, regardless the current pandemic is downplaying the social life, yet it is very lively.

  1. How should an aspiring student go about the application process? Please tell us about the timeline of the application and your experience. (suggested discussion points: procuring consultancy services, SOP, how to choose a reference contact, subject preference)?

A student should firstly discuss the plans with his or her mentors or faculties who knows them in person and has taught them or had guided them at their workplaces. The entire process took me about four months, right from writing a draft for my SOP and getting it corrected to the process and in every way they were of immense help and my consultants provided personal attention to the details of my application and visa filing and follow up process. The pre-departure and other webinars organised equally gave me an insight as to if I should pursue my decision or not.

My most important advice to the potential candidates would be that always choose those lecturers, mentors, bosses or professors who are able and willing to give you LOR. They needn’t always be related to specialisation that you are going to choose but should have had substantial interaction with you or have known you in person.

  1. What were the areas you focused on in terms of CV building towards LLM?

I was always focused on building an overall developed resume focusing on all areas of law so as to show how enthusiastic I am about taking initiative and hence, I have done IPR, Human Rights, Humanitarian Law, Diplomacy related online courses and distance learning, and at the same time, I have maintained a balance by pursuing internships at corporate and litigation law firms so as to balance my research based knowledge with practical skills and ability.

I have had experience in working on Insolvency matters, Banking, Real Estate, Arbitration, Family Law Matters, Succession and Inheritance, Technology Law and Project Finance.

However, when I look back or reflect on the work done I realise I could have been more specific with the field of law for specialisation, but again that is a choice of an individual what career path you are going to choose and most importantly your passion for a subject.

  1. How important is doing proper legal research and how should law students equip themselves with legal research skills. Not many people are familiar with the concept of “exhaustion of a search”. What are your views on it?

Conducting proper research beginning with understanding the basic concepts, developments, regulations and policies in the area of law in general and in peculiar the topic that you are interested in working on is very important in order to be a skilled legal draftsmen, pleader or a practitioner. Additionally, the mode of citation, nature and type of study and under whose guidance would you be doing that is also pertinent and indicating any prejudices that you may have in the study, at the outset of the study would be beneficial in sustaining the integrity of the study. Plagiarism is a serious misconduct and that can lead dismissal of your work, but it is something that you need to keep in check while writing down your work, quote and cite whenever necessary. There should be a consistency in your work and whenever and wherever necessary in case of contradictory developments, please SPECIFY THAT EITHER IN CONCLUSION OR IN THE BEGINNING.

DO NOT FALL PREY TO PREDATORY PAY FOR PUBLICATION JOURNALS AS THAT IS OF NO VALUE, AND IF YOU WISH TO GET YOUR WORK PUBLISHED, AIM OF PEER REVIEWED JOURNALS WITH ISSN OR ISBN NUMBERS.

Various courses are provided on various platforms such as the EDex, Coursera, Epigium Impact and through which the students can enhance their knowledge about research integrity.

Exhaustion of search is the tiredness or lack of initiative to participate any further in research work, it happens due to fatigue as a result of long hours put in the work and because of which output is minimised. My suggestion would be that as an early career researcher or a master student, it is essentially important to take frequent short breaks, as it would improve the productivity levels and improve the efficiency in your search work. It is very important when it comes to drafting your final work.

  1. Lastly, is there any advice you would like to share with the law students aspiring to apply for LLM abroad?

A student interested or has been indicating their interest in pursuing their masters from a foreign country has to consider both pros and cons of doing so before moving ahead, some of which are :

(i) Accommodating to changes in the food and lifestyle habits.

(ii) How the people usually interact with each other is usually somewhat different abroad, keeping in cultural sensitivities in mind.

(iii) When you arrive in a foreign country, DO NOT PANIC. You have a lot of assistance available but be ready to get moving on your toes to get your own work done here.

Despite this, you will learn a lot of things here, such as to be able to manage time well, make a lot of time for visiting different places cultural as well as social life is important too.

All the best to all those you applying to pursue your masters and never lose your faith in yourself, apply to best and leave the rest to the GOD.

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