Saturday, 9 November 2013

Kinds of Scholarships

Scholarships for Indian students are generally of the following types:
a) Funded by the Department
b) Funded by the University
c) Funded by the college ( the system in UK)
d) Funded by government and other bodies in India/ International bodies having national selection in India.

For (a) and (b),often you are automatically considered when you fill the university application form.  Certain application forms have special sections which you need to fill only if you want scholarship (eg: Gates Cambridge Scholarship). The deadline for such scholarship application generally co-indices with the deadline for the application form. In certain cases, however, the scholarships applications have earlier deadline meaning thereby that if you want to be considered for the scholarship, you have to submit your application form earlier. Do always check the funding section of university website and department website. There might be scholarships for which you have to fill separate forms. Also, some universities (like London School of Economics and Harvard) have a financial need form.

In UK, certain universities (like Oxford) have scholarships offered by colleges  only (c) and you are eligible for such scholarships only if you are part of that college. These scholarship applications are often different from University or Department scholarship applications and have to be filled out separately.

Examples of (d) are Rhodes , Commonwealth, Inlaks, Oxford Cambridge Society of India etc. These scholarship applications generally open in February, Rhodes and Commonwealth being notable exceptions.

In addition, there can be sponsorships by individuals, offices etc.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

10 Things You Should Do to Mould your CV for a Foreign LLM

I have been asked this question too many times by too many people: “I am in 3rd/4th year and still have time to mould my CV for getting accepted by my dream university. What do you think I should do to prepare myself? “
Ahh! I so wish that I really knew the exact answer, but I will still try to answer it.
1.  First and foremost, study hard so that you have a CGPA that no one can ignore.
However, much the traditional evaluation system is cursed for not being true indicator of a student’s talent, let us face the truth: if you do not have 2/3 years of work experience, your CGPA is the first thing that the university you are applying to will see.
So, if you are amongst the top 5% of your batch, breathe a sigh of relief. You will have it easier than most, though of course, you need to show other capabilities which I will talk about in subsequent paragraphs.
For those, who do not have that good CGPA, try portraying that you excel in other activities like the ones listed below.
However, a word of caution: check the basic requirements of the university you are applying to and ensure that your CGPA meets that basic criteria.
Also, if there is a particular reason why you did not perform well in a certain semester in law school, you can always explain it in your statement of purpose.
 2. Write quality research papers and get them published, if possible from a journal of international repute. Remember, your article will act as your CV. Show quality work.
It is not important to publish in 1000 places, what is important is to write academically rich articles and publishing them in reputed journals.
Take part in conferences, both national and international. It is a wonderful platform to flaunt your research abilities.
Also, there are chances that your paper will be published in the conference proceedings.
3. Win some national/international level essay competitions. It shows you can write well.
4.  If you get an opportunity, do a research assistantship. I have heard about ISIL professors accepting research assistants.
And, by research assistantship, I do not mean asking a professor to certify some work you have never done. Do it for real and put it in your CV.
5. Intern. If you are interested in a particular branch of law, if possible intern at places which practice that branch of law. For example, if you are interested in Intellectual Property Law, it may be a  good idea to intern at Anand & Anand .
If you are not yet sure of which branch of law you are interested to pursue LLM in but you like corporate-commercial law in general, intern in a good all-service law firm.
Intern under a Supreme Court and High Court judge if you can. It will be taken seriously by the foreign university you are applying to. Also, if the judge is happy with your work, you can convince him/her to provide you with a recommendation letter.
I am told that foreign universities give importance to internships in government organisations and public sector undertakings.
So, you may think of doing at least one internship from a government organisation.
6. Moot.  If possible, go for Jessup, William C. Vis, Stetson, Manfred Lachs, Leiden  Sarin and other international moots.
If you perform well in the international rounds, it may truly open many avenues and opportunities for you.
Even if you do not qualify for international rounds, participation and achievements in the national rounds of these moots too hold importance as  the selection committee of the university abroad probably know about these international moots.
That being said, I cannot undermine the importance of national moots, especially if it is related to your field of interest.
7. Pursue certificate courses in the field of your interest if you can. For example, World Intellectual Property Organisation offer free certificate courses on IPR and ILI offers certificate courses for Cyber Law and Intellectual Property Law. Summer courses like the ones conducted by Hague Academy of International Law, Xiamen University etc have their own importance.
8. Indulge in extra-curricular activities like music, drama, sports, creative writing etc.  The best universities in the world want all-rounders as students.
This is especially important for certain scholarships like Rhodes. Due importance is given to national level and state level awards.
9. Be an integral part of your university committees. Work actively for the student community of your university. It shows that you can mingle with people. Take part in organisation of events,  for your university or some other organisation.
In short, show organisation and leadership abilities as most scholarship applications require you to portray this.
10.  Social work done by you can be a significant addition to your CV.
It shows a well-rounded personality. Scholarship applications often ask you to write about this.
This article was first published here:

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


Answering a question that I have been asked by a reader:
A: When should we start preparing for TOEFL? How does the TOEFL score help in getting admission and scholarship? I want to know the name of any one book, just one good book that will help in preparing.

LLM Application Diaries: You really do not need to write it for university admission. Just get a letter from your undergrad university  stating that the 5 year programme that you are pursuing is conducted in English. Most universities accept this letter as a proof that you know English. However, do send an email to the university you are applying to in order to confirm that they will accept this letter as official proof. Also, often immigration authorities insist on TOEFL score, even though the university doesn't. So, maybe writing the exam is a safer bet. If you are writing TOEFL, use Barron's book as the guide. TOEFL is a pretty easy exam. Two weeks of practice should be more than enough. I know people who studied for one day and scored 113/120. TOEFL has four sections: writing, speaking, reading and listening.The most difficult part is speaking as you have to speak to computer and that is really awkward. By the way, you may even write IELTS, instead of TOEFL. Though both are accepted by most universities, USA schools prefer TOEFL whereas UK and Canada schools prefer IELTS.

The basics

The basics of the application process
In case you don't know this yet, while making an application, this is generally what you need to do:
a) fill the application form which is often detailed
b) write a 1-2 page personal statement
c) provide 2-3 recommendation letters 
d) fill separate application form/s for scholarships offered by the University
e) provide e-copy/hard copy of your marksheets (transcripts), CV, sample of written work, etc

However, this is just a general guideline and what you actually have to do will depend on the application instructions given by the university in which you are applying.

Some useful ranking websites

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Writing the perfect personal statement -Part I

Now that you have decided on the universities you are going to apply to, it is time to concentrate on the most time-consuming and perhaps the most important part of your application- your personal statement/statement of purpose. I suggest that you write a generic statement of purpose and then tailor-make it according to requirements of each law school. Most law schools require you to answer similar questions like what is your future plan/ where do you see yourself five or ten years later or why do you want to pursue LLM from that particular law school. I suggest that look into the personal statement prompts given by each of the universities you are interested in applying and write a big personal statement that answers all these questions. You can now ask your parents, uncle, aunts, cousins and friends to go over this personal statement and give their inputs. Incorporate these viewpoints, revise your personal statement as many times as required and make it perfect. The benefit of writing one generic personal statement is that you can give one 2-3 page document to family and friends going over the it. If you give them 10 personal statements stating more or less same facts, they may lose interest in reading them. That said, if you are applying for only 2-3 universities only, perhaps you should straightaway start writing school-specific personal statements. Please do not forget to write short sentences. Also, use words which portray your passion and interest in pursuing the LLM programme.

Choosing the right university

(Any information given here is purely the personal opinion of the author)

For someone aspiring to pursue Masters in Law from reputed universities  abroad, the first and most important task is to shortlist the prospective universities. Though one may be tempted to apply in all the good universities, this isn't the most advisable thing to do. It is necessary to shortlist due to various reasons. Firstly, almost every reputed university has an application fee  (Kings College, London and Queen Mary, London being notable exceptions) of around $80-100. Secondly, every University has its own application form which is generally detailed. Thirdly, even if you have a generic  personal statement already written, you have to tailor-make it for every University as the word limits and questions to be answered for personal statement vary from University to University. Also, it is definitely not advisable to apply to only one University, however confident you have into getting into it, as it will be putting too many eggs into one basket. Ideally, the universities applied to should range from 3 to 10.
Choosing the universities to apply is not an easy task but it is something that has to be done. I recommend a method for doing this. Give yourself a day or two and think why you want to do LLM, which branch of law you want to specialise in and what you seek the most from the university you want to apply in. The criteria which are generally important to prospective students are : reputation of a university, its research facilities, reputation of its faculty members, geographical location of an university, specialization of an university in a particular branch of law you are interested in, mode of teaching in a university, scholarship opportunities in a university, etc. List the reasons which are important to you in order of priority in a piece of paper. For example, Oxford University is more well-known than McGill University but McGill has the best research facility and faculty for Air and Space Law. Hence, for someone passionate about Air and Space Law, perhaps it is more advisable to pursue LLM from McGill University. Research according to your priorities. The ranking websites can serve as a good starting point.
However, if your priorities are not clear-cut or if you are unaware of the good universities, which is quite understandable for a fresh graduate, here is the solution. List out the 20 most coveted universities in the world or if you want to do LLM from a particular country, the top 20 universities providing legal education of that country. Go to the ranking websites to find this out. Now, Times higher education and the complete university guide are some ranking websites I referred to. Other ranking websites you can easily find out by simple google search. Most ranking websites I found were country specific. Some websites rank universities according to subject (eg: law) whereas others rank universities on their overall research, reputation etc.

First, check whether these universities have any basic requirements like CGPA etc and whether you meet such requirements. Then, read extensively about these universities from their own websites and from other websites commenting on them. This research will help you to identify what sets a particular university apart and whether the university has well-known faculty members in the branch of law you are interested to study. (Note this down in a separate as it will later be helpful to you while you write personal statement for that university). The research on the universities will also tell you about the scholarships offered by the university or its law department, the accommodation facilities the university offers (in case you are planning to stay in university residence) and other factors important to you. Now, you can easily have  a list of 10 universities whose basic requirements you fulfil and which meets your expectations. If possible, find out from the websites of these shortlisted universities, names and email addresses of graduate law students currently studying in these universities. Contact them through facebook or by sending email and get their feedback.