Yavanika Shah, final year RGNUL student on getting admission at QMUL, London

1. Please introduce yourself and your areas of interest ? 

Every time I am to introduce myself I am thinking how to articulate and craft my self in words. I am a first generation budding lawyer. I specialise in International Law and currently am in my fifth year at Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab. Owing to my dad’s transferable job, I have changed 9 schools that has made me an extrovert child. I have been accepted in the Public International Law course and Human Rights course at QMUL, London.

2. What has motivated you to pursue LLM in international law field? 

LLM had never been in my future goals as I always wanted to be corporate lawyer. A couple of law firm internships later, I realised it that it is not my cup of tea. It is during my third year that I participated in the International Criminal Court moot, Hague’s National Rounds. We didn’t win there but it began my journey of reading more about international law, how it works, state relationships et al. That was the beginning of my interest in international humanitarian law and diplomacy. Further, I opted international law as my specialisation in my penultimate year and went on for an internship with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes that set the stepping stone for my research about how’d I be working out for my Masters in Human Rights.

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

I strongly believe that for the first three years of law graduation, one should try all the prospective future career paths to get an idea about what you really want out of your law degree. I think by the end of your third year, there should be a clarity about what you really want to do. I was certain by the end of third year that I want to pursue an LLM in Human Rights post graduation. I started my preliminary research and shortlisted a couple of colleges. Talking to your seniors who already have pursued an LLM is very crucial for shortlisting colleges as they’ll tell you the real scenario about your end goals. Moreover, one can always look up seniors on LinkedIn and can ask them about how to go forth with the applications.

4. Tell us something about the timeline of the application and the commitment it requires? (Dos/  Don’ts  while  applying)

The LLM applications for September batches usually commence in October/November of the previous year. The scholarships, though, usually start from July itself. So, one needs to shortlist the colleges and the scholarships, which they intend to apply for, with all the documents duly prepared. Queen Mary begins its application in October and they take the admissions on a rolling basis with no deadline set. So, try applying as soon as you can. There is also a reputed scholarship called the Commonwealth Masters scholarship that begins its application process in September/ October and covers the entire cost of one’s LLM, so keep an eye on its deadlines and requirement too, as it is a highly coveted one. The application procedure is pretty straight-forward. You need to make an account in their application portal and upload your SOP, CV, LoRs, Language Certificate and Degree Transcripts. The CV should ideally be precise and not more that 2-pages. Anything irrelevant that is not related to the course you’re applying to should be omitted as the idea behind the CV is not about how big it is, but about the qualifications and achievements that’d cater to your application. The Degree transcripts should be put together in a PDF format. Lastly, everything you put in your CV should be backed with evidence as the application procedure is pretty strict in regard of putting dubious claims.

5. What should be kept in mind while writing SOPS, essays etc.? What according to you made your application stand out? 

SOPs are the most important part of your application, because it is those 1000 words that make the admissions committee know about you, your aspirations, your attitude and perspectives, that often are not visible in your CV’s academic achievements. I personally would not suggest anyone to ever copy anyone else’s SOP as it is for you to tell your story and should be personalised as much as it can. One should, although, read a lot of SOPs available online, or of your seniors which would help you understand as to how you can put forth your story. I think what made my application stand out would be to keep the SOP as real as it can be, to not brag about my academic credentials which are already a part of the CV, but to talk about what an LLM would mean to me or how it’d enhance my legal education, furthered by writing about why I want to pursue an LLM at QMUL, why international law and what would I do after my LLM. The SOP should be concise, easy to understand and should let the application committee understand the real picture of who you are and why they should be selecting you.

6. What are your future aspirations? How important in your opinion is legal research? 

I intend to work for International Organisations/ Think Tanks after my LLM. The way to my destination is quite long and full of challenges and I will like to just follow the path, pursuing the degree that I am really interested in. Legal Research is very important for an LLM application, according to me. But, certainly, it is not about the number of publications you have or how many journals you’re associated with but the quality of the paper(s) you have authored that would support your application.

7. Messages to all other LLM aspirants. 

My message would be to be clear about why you really want to pursue your LLM, since it involves a lot of time and finances. Secondly, to start your ground research about which country/ college you’d want to apply for. The sooner, the better. And thirdly, work on your SOPs. Get them read by your seniors. Make a lot of drafts. It is the most important part of your application. And most importantly, don’t lose your calm in the process. The waiting game fro acceptance can be mentally very taxing but do not lose your patience and believe in yourself. All the best to everyone!

Interview was conducted by Vijaya Singh Gautam. She is a third year student at Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law. She is the SCC Online Student Ambassador from RGNUL.

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