This summary is written by Sharanya Ghosh, from Symbiosis Law School, Noida.
The Guest Speaker: Abhijit Narayan completed his senior secondary education from Airforce Bal Bharti School and went on to study Political Science. Later, he picked up law and studied at Campus Law Centre (Delhi University) before pursuing his LLM in Corporate Law from New York University School of Law. After that, he returned to India and worked as a corporate lawyer for a few years. However, he wanted to go abroad and thus began working in Germany. Today he is Foreign Counsel; Head of India Desk and Middle East Desk for Continental Europe at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.
The Host: Ramanuj Mukherjee is an alumnus of National University of Judicial Sciences, Kolkata. He is currently the CEO of LawSikho and the co-founder of iPleaders. His previous work experience includes being a part of the Private Equity and M&A Team at Trilegal, Mumbai.
Why should I pursue my LLM from Europe?
The real question here is why you want to pursue LLM in the first place. After you have answered that, you may consider the fact that the standard of education in European nations is very high and the cost of living and studying much lower as compared to the United States. Thus, pursuing LLM from Europe can be very useful.
How realistic is it to want to work in a European country abroad?
Anti-immigration sentiment may exist in a few countries but even otherwise, finding a job in Europe in the legal field is not easy. Some people don’t go for LLM directly after graduation. Some people study LLM only because they want to work abroad. The supply of LLM graduates is much more than demand LLM graduates globally. One reason why international law firms have few Indian lawyers because they are expected to handle India related transactions.
What are the chances of getting a job after I get my degree in LLM?
The chances of getting a job after getting an LLM depends on the market demand. It is important to develop contacts and understand the client requirement. It is very important to understand that the client is not coming to you for a lesson in law but because they seek solutions.
A lot of people are interested in working abroad. What are some of the pros and cons of working in Europe?
There is a long list of benefits of working abroad. The stipend is decent, depending from place to place, there is a great experience and exposure and with the technological advancements of the world, you can stay connected with your family back home. There aren’t many cons of working or studying abroad according to Mr. Narayan.
What is the situation of Indian lawyers abroad?
Several Indians tend to go back home since it is not easy to grow in an international firm. Even if you become a partner, it is difficult to be accepted unless you build a brilliant case. In fact, even today, there are few Indian equity partners in German and other European firms. This, however, should be looked at as an opportunity instead of a downside.
Some students face the issue of language barriers. How should they deal with that?
The best solution to a language barrier is to learn it. It is not a prerequisite in a world where English and other global languages do exist. However, it is an essential skill that one may develop to add value to their own profile.
How long does it take to learn a language?
Depending on the language and its difficulty level, it can take around two years to become fluent in speaking a European language. It looks good on your resume and around three years of studying the language, one may even be able to use it comfortably in the business process.
When should you start learning the language? How do you choose which language to go for?
Choosing the language depends on your interest level and the field and country you want to work in. As for when you should start learning it, the earlier the better.
Why should I pick up a language?
Most people feel more comfortable speaking in their domestic languages and if you are able to interact with them through it, it adds value to your image. Whether you are into litigation or corporate, if you have clients from that foreign country, you can speak to them in that language. This is a major benefit. It opens doors for you across countries and creates more job opportunities for you.
Does learning a foreign language help if I plan to stay in India after my LLM?
Yes. There are firms in India that work across countries and thus they have language desks. You can approach such firms to join their teams. Not only that, it allowed you to collaborate with people and widen your circles.
What should I do in order to land a job in a foreign law firm?
These law firms will look at what you bring to the table and thus it becomes important to reach out to the right people, such as lawyers in a firm who have worked on cases related to India. Cover letters are an essential feature of your application and need to be created in a way that the person reading it feels like it was created for him alone.
What kind of a track record should I have before I apply for a job?
Here it becomes important to put yourself in the shoes of the person reading your application, since they must be receiving multiple applications. What sets you apart? What value will you add to the firm? A cover letter becomes so important that you may be rejected based on that alone.
How do I build my connections and set myself apart?
You should think out of the box in this situation. You need to work on your profile and ensure that you come across as a professional. You should also be ready to face rejections from Universities and job applications. You only need one job to kickstart your career and a lot is riding on your job profile.
Where in Europe should I go for an LLM?
Any European country such as Germany, France and Spain offer great education at subsidised rates. The quality of education is superior and the overall cost is less as compared to the United States (and also the United Kingdom if we look specifically at the European Union). Getting an education in big cities will help you intern at big law firms too.
Why is it better to work for a while after my graduation and before I go for my LLM?
Working before going for LLM is quite helpful in getting a scholarship. You may even be able to work in India that have connections with those respective countries, such as Germany. If you plan to settle abroad, you may join Indian companies based abroad or even foreign companies that work with Indian organisations.
Some questions asked by the audience and students of the LawSikho community:
How do I write a good Statement of Purpose?
A good statement of purpose generally does not have a single formula. It is one way of connecting with a person. Statements of Purpose have word limits when it comes to law universities and it is important to condense your thoughts in a sensible manner. Mr. Narayan also suggested that universities while looking for unique messages still keep an eye out for some clichés.
Is going abroad for a PhD in law a good idea?
Going for a PhD in law is a good decision because not only does it ensure that you get a decent stipend, it also enables you to connect with people. Your references increase and it propels your career forward. It is important to get on the Internet and do some research first, though.
I’ve been working for four years. Is it too late to consider going for an LLM? Will it add any value to my resume?
Mr. Narayan mentioned that if you want to pursue an LLM you should definitely consider it. Not only does it add to your resume, it also gives you more exposure and improves your overall profile. Mr. Mukherjee also added that it depends on the field that you would like to enter as well.
What are some tips you can give for planning an education abroad, especially financially?
If you are a law student who is planning to go abroad, it is very important to add to your resume. You need to participate in moot court competitions, go for internships, write papers and publications and most importantly, it is essential to maintain a good quality of these activities. You also need a good plan that you can keep in mind. This might even help you land a scholarship.
Even if I get an LLM, generally law students are required to get local qualifications. How does that affect my education? Does LLM really help?
It is important to first identify which field of law you want to enter and what you want to pursue. Depending on that, you should choose your specialisation and plan for any local qualifications that you will need. Again, based on what your field of law is all about, you can go for both an LLM and cover the local qualifications.
If I’m already enrolled in the LLM programme of a good University. What is the next step to get a job?
Mr. Narayan says that you must utilise your time well. Getting good grades during your LLM is essential if you want to land a good job. You should also utilise your time while in the programme to go for informational interviews and try to have conversations with people instead of looking at jobs immediately. This will help you build your contacts and your profile.
Can it be a problem is a person is only a foreign legal consultant?
It is usually not a problem to simply be a foreign legal consultant. Most big firms internationally use standardised language in their work and overall it is a global job. However, if you really want to build a career, you should strive to become a partner in a firm. For this, local qualifications become extremely important.
Should I go for a specialised LLM or a general LLM?
It is best to go for a specialised LLM. You can also cover different courses under a specialisation and focusing on one field helps you gain proper exposure and a greater understanding.
What steps should I go for in the future if I have studied under an International Human Rights LLM programme in the United Kingdom?
It becomes essential here to know what kind of a field you are going for. You may return to India and go into litigation while keeping in mind this field. You may go into teaching. Otherwise, you should try to get a job at the United Nations and at well-known large NGOs.
I have a work experience of over three years and had applied to a few German Universities for LLM. However, what with the pandemic, I am unsure about the admission currently.
To this, Mr. Narayan responded by saying that it would be best to wait for a year or so before pursuing an LLM abroad. Since it is a trying time, it is best not to take a risk. Even so, you should go for it or defer it by a year.
Do top universities in the Europe have top placement cells like we have in India?
It’s the same in Europe, they have internships and also collaborate with Indian colleges. There are firms there that even hire international interns from time to time.
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