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Sruthi Srinivasan is graduated with a BSL.LLB from ILS Law College, Pune and currently a Graduate student pursuing LLM in Commerce and Technology at University of New Hampshire School of Law (Franklin Pierce Center of Intellectual Property). She shares her LLM Experience with Legal Desire in an interview by Bhagyashree Sonwane, Executive Director, Legal Desire. According to Sruthi, her ascent from law school in India to US has been a fascinating journey.
Briefly describe your background?
Shruthi: To acquaint the readers a little about my background, I grew up in Chennai and lived there until I was 15. At 17, I moved cities to attend Bharti Vidya Bhavan a popular residential school in Erode which is about 3 hours away from Ooty. The correspondent of Bharti Vidya Bhavan, who was actively involved in education and policy encouraged me to apply for law school. During my penultimate year at school, I dabbled in creative writing and public speaking. Apart from my academic side, I have a creative side that very few people know about; I learnt Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi for more than twelve years and perform professionally.
How did you chose Law?
Shruthi: Since my childhood I have been quite a voracious reader. The fact that Law involves a lot of reading and interpretation pulled me closer to law school. At one point I dabbled about choosing Economics over Law. But, finally decided on law school due to the comprehensive five year law school course.
Tell us about your law school and work experience in India
Shruthi: I joined ILS Law College, Pune in 2008. My law school experience was positive and I interned at various places during the five-year course like Altacit Global-Chennai, Seth Dua Associates-Delhi, Bharti Infratel Limited-Gurgaon, Global Legal Associates-Delhi among others. Post my graduation, I worked for Reliance Industries Limited in Mumbai as a Legal Counsel for more than two and a half years. Following my stint at Reliance Industries Limited, I moved to Chennai for six months and worked on Corporate Litigation and Intellectual Property matters on consultancy basis before locating to US for my graduate education.
How is your LLM experience in US?
Shruthi: My LLM experience in US has been very exciting and intellectually stimulating.US as a country is known for a fairly different approach to the legal education system. Graduate level classrooms in US are filled with attorneys from more than 25 countries hence there is an effective dialogue and debate at an academic level. My course work has been tailored and structured with an emphasis on Business Law subjects intersecting with Technology Law subjects, bordering on Intellectual Property. As I concentrate on the legal environment in startups and technology institutions, my doctrinal course work is reflected by the same. At UNH School of Law-Franklin Pierce Center of Intellectual Property, I had the opportunity to meet Professors who turned mentors and acquaintances who became friends. I am especially thankful at this juncture to Professor William Murphy, Chair for the Graduate Commerce and Technology Law Program for taking an active interest in my legal education by providing me with ample edification. To add further, another pivotal part of my experience has been acquiring the United States Patent and Trademark Office(USPTO) Limited License to Practice as an Intellectual Property Clinician with the Intellectual Property and Transaction Clinic. The Clinic allows me to get hands on experience in the US legal system. As transactions are becoming global, a successful lawyer is expected to have wider perspectives. LLM programs step in to build on legal foundations, enhance marketable skills and gain an international exposure.
Tell us about applying to law schools in US:
Shruthi: Applying to law schools in US is a protracted process. In my case, I had been mulling over applying to law schools in United States since 2011. I waited for almost five years as I wanted to gain experience before heading for graduate level education. In the meantime, my research about various law schools, financial aid and scholarship took place. Post application process there is considerable paper work for visa process.
How does one secure considerable scholarships for an American Education?
Shruthi: I secured the University of New Hampshire School of Law Merit Scholarship to pursue my LLM in US. Scholarships, financial aid, discounts and waivers are crucial parts of the foreign education system.US has quite a few options in this arena. These options are available to students having quality work experience, stellar academic credentials and overall good credibility. Acquiring scholarships, waivers or financial aid can be daunting for International students.
How challenging is the LLM program for Indian students?
Shruthi: The LLM program can be pretty challenging and intense in certain aspects. Some factors include academic, climate and associated risks. Academics can be different from what one has done in their home country and hence continuous exercise of reason, judgement and absorption of subject matter is pertinent. Climate is a factor which is least emphasized but very germane to a foreign education. Further, any foreign country has risks associated with society, immigration etc.
What is your advice to law students looking to apply for LLM?
Shruthi: I am frequently involved in providing career guidance through a popular portal. My advice to law students from India looking to apply to US or other countries is to do a lot of research and to start the process ahead of time. Popular evaluation services like World Evaluation Service(WES) or Law School Admission Council(LSAC) take considerable amount of time especially during peak admission season, hence planning ahead of time is crucial. Tailoring a good Statement of Purpose and acquiring Letters of Recommendation from persons acquainted with one’s work is an important aspect as well.