Ms Meghmala Mukherjee is an alumnus of National Law University, Odisha, former associate with Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, New Delhi and is currently pursuing her BCL at Somerville College, University of Oxford, as an HSA Advocates Scholar
1. Please share with our readers, a brief personal introduction about yourself.
Hi, I am Meghmala, and I am currently reading the BCL at the University of Oxford. For reading the BCL, I was also awarded the HSA Advocates Scholarship by the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development (associated with Somerville College, which has luminaries such as Cornelia Sorabji, Indira Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher). Prior to this, I did my undergraduate from National Law University, Odisha and have practised as a corporate lawyer in India for almost 4 years.
2. How was it like, pursuing your graduation from NLUO? Any specific memories you would want to share?
It was really interesting to have pursued my undergraduation from NLUO. Being one of the first few batches had its challenges. However, it also enabled us to prove to the legal community that NLUO and its students were forces to be reckoned with. I would forever be indebted to my seniors who were fantastic support systems for moots, but also taught us the basics of researching and mastering Microsoft Word. These skills helped me make a mark during my internships and still save me a lot of time.
There are too many specific memories to share, but I loved the NLUO community, and the intra-college events we had, especially the DJ nights, where we would dance for hours.
3. How according to you can one balance his academic life in college as well as put the tick marks on the “fun” aspects of it, given you graduated with 7 gold medals?
I think it depends on figuring out one’s personal style of studying and finding a formula that works. For me, it meant going through the material that was taught in class on a daily or weekly basis and making notes so that I only needed to revise before exams. But this also meant cutting myself some slack because invariably there would be days when I did not feel like studying, and I would spend time chatting with my friends, taking long walks, or just having fun.
It honestly took some time to figure out the balance, and as you go through law school, it is easier to fall into the rhythm of academic life, and just spend a few hours every week on the class material.
4. How did you narrow in on your areas of focus/specialisation?
That was actually a combination of factors. Whilst I had some interest in corporate law, I initially preferred competition law more. However, internships were hard to get in competition law, and I started doing corporate law internships, which I ended up liking it. In my fourth year, I also participated in the NUJS HSF National Corporate Law Moot Court Competition, where I ended up getting clarity on the subject, and also fell in love with the intricacies of corporate law and foreign exchange laws.
Afterwards, during my association with Shardul Amarchand, my team specialised in mining laws and pharmaceutical laws, and I picked it up as well for advising clients.
5. What role did the various internships that you pursued during law school, have on you? If you can share any of your experiences that helped you navigate through muddy waters. The approach students should have while undertaking internships during law school.
Internships played a huge role since it not only helped me figure out my interest areas, but also gave me ideas of subjects that I was ill-equipped to handle.
The most important thing to do in internships was to seek work, be diligent in doing them, and ensure that the work was corrected based on feedback. As interns, nobody expected us to produce perfect drafting, but making certain that research work undertaken was thorough, and submitting work with good formatting and citations always helped. When working on due diligence or proofreading documents, paying attention to minute detail, or sometimes, even asking questions to clarify doubts (which Google could not resolve) also assisted in making a mark.
6. When and why did you decide to pursue postgraduate studies?
Doing a masters degree was always in the cards though the timing of it was uncertain. It was around my fourth or fifth year of undergraduation that I decided not to pursue a masters just after graduation, but rather gain some practical exposure. This was also a motivation since my internships gave me a glimpse into the workings of corporate law, and I wanted to experience it for myself as well.
During the pandemic, I came back home, and when the vaccines came out, I figured it would be good time to apply for a masters. I hoped that classes would again start normally, and my work experience would help me in my studies.
7. Could you please briefly share with the readers all aspects that must be kept in mind before applying and during the application procedure for an LLM primarily in the UK?
There are a couple of different things to take into consideration. This includes the subjects being offered, the faculty for those subjects, the university rankings, and the fees.
I know many brilliant scholars who deliberately did not choose to pursue a degree from universities in UK with higher rankings because these universities did not offer their interest area subjects.
Most good universities will have a rigorous master’s program which equips students to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding. So it comes down to these criteria. Having expert faculties is immensely helpful in even figuring out future career paths. Ranking, fees and funding, I believe are important for most Indian students because we are reliant on scholarships and external fundings, and not choosing the right university can be an unpleasant experience once you reach the country.
8. How has your work experience helped you in your current venture of pursuing the LLM/BCL?
Yes, absolutely. I deliberately chose subjects which had some overlap with my work experience, and this has proved to be a huge boon. The readings focus both on the positive law and the normative understanding behind the law, and the experience helps me visualise how the law and the concepts interact with corporate law across jurisdictions.
It also gives me an idea of how corporate law in India might evolve over the next few years, and how the country might react to newer transaction structures and business models being developed.
9. As mundane that it may sound, do you think considerable work experience in fact embellishes your takeaways from an LLM/post graduation?
It would depend on the person, their aspirations and motivations. While work experience is helping me currently, there are other challenges. Coming back to academia after a hiatus can be difficult to get used to initially, and even going back to the student life can be daunting.
I know many people who have done their post graduation soon after their undergraduate degree, and they are flourishing well. It is about your understanding of the subject area and how it interacts with practical issues in the world. For many, considerable work experience may not be prerequisite.
10. What are your future plans like?
I have been keeping my future plans pretty fluid. I have enjoyed practising corporate law, and would love to come to India to practise it more. On the other hand, doing the masters makes me realise that academia has a lot more to offer, and I will be looking into those avenues as well. I have always liked teaching and it seems like an interesting path.
11. Any advice for the students who are either looking to pursue law as a career or to those who are already pursuing but just like you want to pursue masters in law from reputed universities.
For those who are thinking of pursuing a masters, please make sure you are intending to do it because you want to learn more about your chosen field and are willing to put in the hard work for it. Masters from any reputed university takes a lot of effort, and undertaking the course for superfluous reasons will not be helpful. A masters for many also help in changing their field of practice, but the motivation for such change needs to be succinctly put forth in the statement of purpose because the Admission Committee would want to know the reason for the change(s).
For those pursuing, I am sure many, including me, are still figuring out their future plans, and I hope everyone can determine the paths they want to take, and I wish everyone the very best of luck.