Danesh Mehta- LLM GRADUATE FROM Northwestern University (USA) ANSWERS 5 MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS OF LLM ASPIRANTS

ABOUT DANESH MEHTA

Danesh Mehta is a civil and commercial lawyer based in Mumbai, India. His qualifications include a BMS and LLB (J.D. Equivalent) degree from Mumbai University and an LLM degree focused in entrepreneurship law from Northwestern University (USA).

Over the years, he has gained work experience from various law firms in Mumbai and Chicago along with a judicial clerkship at the Supreme Court of India. His experience in litigation along with experience in commercial law and business strategy provides him with the expertise to advice new businesses. He sees himself as a legal catalyst in helping companies grow. He is well versed with contract drafting, dispute resolution and real estate advisories.

5 MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS BY LLM ASPIRANTS:

1. A lot of law students ask whether they should do a foreign LLM degree over an Indian LLM degree. What is your advice to them? Does a foreign LLM have enough weightage on a person’s CV to land them a job?

Danesh Mehta-“That is definitely one of the most important questions to answer when one is considering an LLM degree. The first and most important point in my opinion is for the students to ask themselves whether they can comfortably afford a foreign LLM without much financial hassle. The reason being that it is a huge investment and does not guarantee a job. A foreign LLM has various advantages that you will never learn from an Indian LLM. It broadens your thinking on how the world works, you realize how work culture differs from country to country and most of all you build connects from around the world. Even by staying alone in a foreign country one also develops self-discipline and responsibilities. So, on a personal front, I have found it to be a great experience.

Even though a foreign LLM degree may look attractive on your CV it does not mean you have secured a job for yourself, therefore, it may be difficult to recover the money spent on the degree. Further, if someone is looking to work and settle abroad I would advise them to do the LL.B /J.D. degree in that foreign country as that would increase the prospects of being hired there.”

2. How do I know which university is best for me? Should I only not do an LLM abroad if I don’t get into an Ivy League/ high ranking law school?

Danesh Mehta-” It is very important to ask oneself – What do I want from the LLM? Do I want to learn a particular subject? Do I just want to have the ‘foreign experience’? Do I just want to add the name of that university on my CV?

Once you understand what you are looking for it will help you search what universities are right for you. In my opinion, one must shortlist universities based on your subject of interest and not on necessarily on the name of the university. For example, let’s say you want to learn a course on arbitration. It is quite likely that a lesser-known university having an overall rank of no. 7 has a better arbitration course than a top university having an overall rank of no. 1 or 2. This may put someone in a dilemma. In my opinion, if your intention is simply to learn you must learn at the university that offers the best course in line with your interests. In summary, do your research and ensure that you will get from the degree what you wish to pursue.”

3. What helps my application more – grades or work experience? Is there any other way to improve my applications?

Danesh Mehta-“The short answer is – both matter. At times your grades right from your school days to your most recent degree matter. However, this should not dampen your spirits in applying as it is only one of the qualifications and not the only qualification to getting into a good university.

On the other hand, I would recommend doing post graduate work experience before applying for an LLM for two reasons – (i) this is taken into consideration by the university and is possible that they may overlook average grades for the good amount of experience you have; and (ii) you can get the most from your degree. You will appreciate what you learn even more if you have some basic knowledge on some subjects.   

Other than the above, one may consider in their SOPs mentioning certain extracurricular activities that one has done or skills they have developed through the years.”

4. There is a common doubt in students that whether they should do a general or a specialized LLM. What are your thoughts on it and what would you say to the students who have this doubt?

Danesh Mehta-“As I mentioned before, when you are deciding whether to do or not to do your LLM you need to first understand what your end goal is. Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years? Will your LLM degree help you in achieving it? If yes, then how?

Answering these questions helps one create a roadmap in their career. I decided to go for a general LLM to get a more holistic experience of all the subjects as I was unsure what area of law I wanted to focus in. Gradually through the program I found my interest and decided to take more business-oriented subjects. This worked well for me. However, if for example, someone really wants to practice tax laws, a tax LLM may be really helpful to them from a career standpoint. Put yourself in a potential employer’s shoes who is a partner at a tax law firm – he would probably hire a Tax LLM graduate over a general LLM graduate to join his firm, right? 

In my opinion if you are unsure what area of law you want to pursue, you may want to do a general LLM where you could pick from a range of subjects.

5. Apart from what you learnt in your LLM degree what do you think was the most-important take-away from your degree?

Danesh Mehta-“Without a doubt, the most important part of your LLM degree (as much as if not more important than what you learn) is your networking! Making new friends, acquaintances and mentors should be your priority. Remember, your classmates a few years down the line may be partners at law firms all over the world. If they are your friends from the university, there is an immediate sense of trust that is created. Which only means that you may get clientele and legal work from foreign law firms which would only boost your career. In fact, even if you want to land yourself a job there, the chances of getting one increase tenfold if you attend networking events, get-togethers etc. Your LLM contacts are the most underestimated yet most important take-away from your degree.”

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