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.
THE POINTS HERE WRITTEN IN ORDER OF THEIR IMPORTANCE, AS PER MY PERSONAL OPINION.
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.
Upasana Dasgupta is a graduate of RMLNLU and is presently pursuing Masters in Law (LLM) from McGill University. She runs a blog on LLM application here.