Interview of Urvashi Jain, she completed her LLB from Allahabad University and pursued her LLM from UGA, US, She is now an advocate at Allahabad HC.
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
I am an attorney with 4.5 years of work experience. I am currently litigating at the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad. I have done my master’s from University of Georgia School of Law. At the High Court, I deal with civil, criminal and public interest cases.
I have been appointed as amicus curiae in the nascent years of my career for cases involving murder, gang rape, mob rioting etc. Some of these cases have been reported (AFR) in the local law journals. I have also been appointed as the alternative chairman for court convened meetings of the shareholders in merger and amalgamation matters. Apart from the professional front, I am a fun-loving person.
I have deep compassion for the animals. I love exploring places and food. I have a Black Belt in Karate and have always been very active in pursuing extra-curricular activities.
You completed your BA.LLB (Hons.) from the University of Allahabad. How was the experience there?
It was a good experience, but, at the same time it was very exhausting, as I was one of the few students who never bunked classes. I almost maintained full attendance except when I was suffering with viral hepatitis. The five-months semester used to go in a blink of an eye with back to back assignments, presentations, mid-sems and final exams.
In order to maintain a competitive candidature, I always interned during my summer and winter breaks at law firms, non-profit organizations, High Courts or at the Supreme Court. I was a member of the Moot Court Society and took active involvement in the events organized at the law faculty. Along with a team of 3 members, I represented the university in many national moot court competitions and at the Stetson’s International Environmental Moot Court Competition.
I was also instrumental in organizing the 1st V.V. Chitaley Women Law Seminar at the university in 2013. I also played basketball and represented the law faculty many times with my team at the basketball tournament organized by Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University.
What made you decide to pursue an LLM from abroad?
I always strive for my personal growth for which I think international exposure goes a long way. U.S.A. being a Common Law country was a reason behind choosing to do LLM from there.
Also, since my sister has been in the U.S. for 10 years now, it pushed me more towards US than any other country as I was leaning on to get some support and familiarity in an otherwise new country.
How did you go about selecting a college? What made you choose University of Georgia?
UGA was my first and last choice. For me, it was like getting an LL.M. from UGA or from nowhere. The primary reason I would attribute to this choice would be the great ROI (return on investment) UGA has. It is the first public university of United States and since 1785 it has been holding its place in the education industry.
It is a public ivy institution located in a small but self-sustained college town, Athens. The other reason for pinning only UGA was to get family love, care, support and often times cooked food, as my elder sister was pursuing her Ph.D. from Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, which is only an hour and half minutes’ drive from Athens. Lastly, with the good ranking of the university, I was positive that I can invest there for a promising future.
Tell us about your experience of doing an LLM from University of Georgia
One word for my experience at UGA- Amazing! It was a tough time for me as I was in the grief of my father’s sudden demise due to a fatal road accident which happened just a few months before I made it to UGA. But my UGA family (yes, that’s what I call it) was very helpful and supportive all along.
I met great scholars during the 10 months I had on campus, everyone adding something new and meaningful to my life, be it academically, professionally or socially. The professors at UGA were just an email away. The curriculum was a little overwhelming (for me, being very different from what I had experienced in India) but the kind of life I had was unparalleled.
I presented research papers in international and national conferences. The opportunities were endless. Not a single day would go by without any activity being organized at the law school. Only the time was short and little burdened with the course work. Also, UGA has a great Career Development Office (CDO).
Further, a unique feature which UGA provides is the Mentor-Mentee program, wherein each student is provided a peer mentor, a faculty mentor and a professional mentor along with full access and support of the CDO. The CDO while ensuring the resume and cover letters are marketable, also tries to bring to the candidate or connects the candidate to the latter’s choice of industry or work.
What are the job prospects for someone who completes an LLM from the US?
An experience always add on to your knowledge. In the Indian scenario, the recruiting companies do not seem to give due weightage to your having an LL.M. degree because of the myth that a master’s degree in law is not useful in the legal industry. But the reality is that a candidate with a litigation/corporate background along with an LL.M. degree would definitely mark his presence in the court/firm/ office.
It’s not just about the degree; it’s the entire personality of a person that gets changed with international exposure- a personality which is bound to fetch good for the firm, client etc. Also, if someone is looking for post LLM options in India, they can sit for the UGC-Net exam and apply for the positions like Assistant Professor or Associate Professor in the law schools.
If they want, they can go ahead and pursue their Ph.D. to enter academia in full swing. While if someone is looking for options in the US, then based on my research, they can settle for paralegal jobs or legal assistants in firms.
If they plan to act in the role of an attorney in the US, they will need to qualify the bar exam which is conducted separately by different states; and not all the states in the US allow the foreign-trained attorney to sit for the bar. This is where they need to do a little research and act as per their desired goals in life.
What would be your advice (for SOP, CV, interview) for someone who’s applying for an LLM from the US?
I believe that one needs to be very straight forward with their application materials which include but not limited to Statement of Purpose (SOP), Resume, Letters of Recommendation (LOR), etc. Every aspect of the application should bring out something new about the candidate.
That is why, the admissions committee seek SOP, otherwise, they could just limit their reviews on the resume of the candidates. Generally the candidates reiterate their resume in their SOP which is not a good approach. Also, I would not suggest exhibiting their vocabulary jargon on their SOP.
My impression is that simply worded SOPs are preferred and are more helpful for the admissions committee to review and understand the candidacy. Applicants should try to not exceed the given word limit by more than one percent.
Further, resumes are preferred over CVs. The length of the resume should ideally be one page or maximum of two pages. Regarding LORs, applicants can submit either professional or academic LORs. Lastly, UGA does not conduct interviews. But the applicants should feel free to ask questions by email or set up a Skype call.
The law school is extremely helpful and is the best guide to walk you through their application process. They can be reached at [email protected].
How much did an LLM from the University of Georgia cost you ? What sort of opportunities are there to earn while you learn?
I bagged a full tuition waiver and was awarded a graduate assistantship. Since, my family was facing financial hardships due to the sudden passing away of my father, the only breadwinner of the family, I knew I could not depend on them for any kind of funding.
As a graduate assistant, I earned a modest stipend with which I tried to make both ends meet. But I believe, there are lot of opportunities available on campus to make some extra bucks like at the dining halls, at circulation desk of various libraries, etc.
Any parting words of advice for our readers.
UGA is a great option which one should consider while looking for colleges offering LLM. Also, on the south coast, the weather is not too different from India, so it might be easier to acclimatize.
Anyone considering LL.M. should ensure that your undergraduate university (India ) is accredited from the NAAC else you might have to face problems with the bar exams in the United States, if you plan on taking them post-LL.M. I’d be happy to help anyone with their personal doubts and queries. I can be contacted at [email protected].