In Talk with
Adv SAI ANUKARAN
on INSIGHTS TO MASTER BOARDS
About Adv Sai Anukaran:
Sai is a Practicing Attorney with 2 years of experience at Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, High Courts, and various tribunals. Sai completed his LLM in Comparative and International Arbitration from the Queen Mary University, London. He has worked extensively in domestic & international arbitrations related to Infrastructure, construction, government contracts, and international trade. He also has published articles on arbitration in prestigious international journals. He is a member of various international arbitral organizations including YSIAC, CIArb, YIAG, and AIAC.
Q1. Why did you decide to pursue a masters in abroad? What ushered you to the subject of Dispute Resolution and Arbitration?
I always wanted to pursue advocacy and litigation as my stream in law. Therefore, all my internships revolved around litigation. During one of the internships, I was introduced to the world of Alternative Dispute Resolution and Arbitration. This was a defining moment for me, as I fell in love with the nuances of the field. I also realized, that given the huge backlog of cases in India, arbitration is surely the way forward, especially in commercial cases. However, what strengthened my resolve to pursue a master’s degree abroad was my participation in the Willem C Vis Moot on International Commercial Arbitration. This was an enriching experience for me both academically and practically. Not only did I gain extensive knowledge of the field, while researching for the competition, but I also learned the nuance of building a case and putting forth arguments before a tribunal. This opportunity also allowed me to interact with the topmost experts in the field, after which I realized that the Arbitration system in India is still in its nascent stages, and many changes need to be introduced before we can be at parity with the more advanced Legal systems such as UK and Singapore.
It is with this starting point, that I decided to pursue a masters in this particular subject. I, therefore, advise all the readers to first choose a subject/ area of practice and only then think of pursuing a master’s degree abroad and not the other way around.
Q2. How did you secure your admission to Queen Mary University of London (QMUL)? What all do the students need to do to secure admission into these universities?
The most important information on your master’s application is your inclination and interest in a particular area of practice. Therefore, I focused on gaining academic and practical experience in this field to ensure my admission at QMUL. I started applying to the topmost law firms, practitioners, and arbitrators in India, to gain some insight into the nuances of International and Domestic. Arbitration. In addition to this, I extensively reviewed various topics of practical and academic relevance. I wrote research papers and blog posts on these topics and got them published in prestigious international journals. As mentioned above, I also participated in the Willem C Vis Moot Court. However, in my bid to undertake all of the aforementioned activities, I continued to participate in various extra-curricular and co-curricular activities, which are an important factor when you are applying for an LLM.
Q3.Which are the best institutions in the Arbitration and Dispute Resolution? How did you choose the Queen Mary University of London?
Several universities offer an excellent and comprehensive master’s program in International Arbitration. MIDS Geneva, NUS, QMUL, Sciences Po, Columbia, Stockholm University are a few universities that offer an excellent master’s program along with the best faculty in International Arbitration. However, there is no single best program in international arbitration. This is a very personal decision based on a range of factors including- Faculty, Range of Subjects, Country of Study, Cohort/ Class Size.
I initially researched the programs on the website LLMGuide.com, which is a useful tool to conduct preliminary research on the standing of a particular university and the particular course. After shortlisting the universities, I went to the websites of these universities and searched the modules offered.
I particularly chose QMUL because of the professors- Lew, Mistelis and Stavros Brekoulakis, who are some of the biggest names in the field. What further influenced my decision was the range of modules offered and the location of the university i.e. London.
Q4. Kindly enlighten us as to the scope a person who does LLM/LLB from abroad, gets on returning to India? Also, what did you study there and how far has it facilitated you in your legal career?
An LLM proved to immensely beneficial because not only did it provide me with erudite practical and academic knowledge in International Arbitration, but it also brought forth a lot of changes in me on a personal level. This was mainly due to the exposure to a confluence of different cultures and people from various countries, which adds layers to your personality.
The subjects I studied there were- International Arbitration, International Construction Law, Comparative Contract Law, International Investment Laws, International Commercial Law and International Litigation, and conflict of laws.
It is too soon to talk about the impact of the LLM on my overall career graph. Also, to be candid, an LLM doesn’t guarantee you a job. It is ultimately upon you to apply and search for jobs on individual merit. However, an LLM does allow you y to stand out from the crowd, because of your erudite and comprehensive knowledge of the subject. Also, an LLM helps you to build a very wide network across different jurisdictions, which often gives you work in the form of referrals. I only recently referred a client who wanted the support of a local counsel in Peru for his dispute, to one of my batchmates in Peru.
Q5. What’s the procedure to apply to different universities? Also shed some light on various tests, like IELTS, and their procedure alongside score improvement tips.
Whilst each university application might have some minor variances of the procedure, the following are integral parts in every application:
Curriculum Vitae: Not more than 2 pages and listing only essential information about the particular area of application along with extra-curricular and co-curricular activities.
Statement of Purpose: It should act as an enlarged version of the CV, to give insight into you as an individual and must particularly mention the reasons for applying for the particular course and the university.
References: Academic and Professional reference letters relating to the field of study.
Language Proficiency: This depends on the requirements of the university. I gave TOEFL instead of IELTS because some of the universities I was applying to only accepted TOEFL scores. Most of the students don’t need to undertake any extra classes for this exam. However, do acclimatize yourself to the exam format before taking the exam.
Q6.Having various papers to your credit that are published in reputed international journals, what’s the best approach to writing paper for an international journal
Research Papers are a wonderful method to gather knowledge since it involves extensive research and forces you to think beyond the box to analyze the problems. The approach I follow is to read the various blogs and attend seminars to find out the current areas of practice that are being debated upon. Thereafter, I undertake preliminary research into the topic to determine, if there is something new and unique that I can contribute to the topic. It’s only after forming a basic hypothesis, that I undertake to start writing a research paper. Furthermore, I always look for the best journals, for it is pointless to get yourself published in pay for publications journals, many of which readily publish your articles without undertaking scrutiny of the writing quality.
Q7. How should a Non-NLU student start preparing for LLM(abroad) in college pursuing bachelors?
I believe, that creating two isolated silos for NLU and Non-NLU students is unnecessary. At the end of the day, it is the individual merit of the students that matters. Therefore, I cannot give any separate advice to Non-NLU students. The only advice I can give everyone is that there is a wealth of knowledge out there, which we cannot possibly absorb in one lifetime. Therefore, all the students and practitioners should strive to be better versions of themselves.
Q8.Can a person from a middle-class family afford to pay such heavy fee which is on an average about 50 Lakh for the course? What are the funding options?
This is a matter of concern, which needs to be discussed in length with your families. While, you can definitely manage your living expenses whilst staying abroad by taking up part-time jobs, which in itself is a wonderful experience. However, a huge majority of the funding has to be arranged beforehand. This can be done either by taking Education loans or applying for scholarships such as Commonwealth, Inlaks, and Chevening.
Q9.Any other advice or opinion that you’d like to share with our readers?
Pursuing an LLM is definitely a rewarding experience because it augments your existing knowledge and allows you to bridge the gap between academia and practice. It also allows you to approach any given problem/case differently and more comprehensively.