Ms. Prerna Deep is a a British Council GREAT Scholar who graduated with Masters of Law from The University of Edinburgh. She did LLB from Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi, and English Honours from Miranda House, University of Delhi.
How would you like to introduce yourself to our readers? What motivated you to pursue the field of law?
Hi everyone, I am Prerna Deep. I am a British Council GREAT Scholar who graduated with Masters of Law from The University of Edinburgh specialising in Criminal Law. Before pursuing my LLM, I did LLB from Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi, and English Honours from Miranda House, University of Delhi.
What do you think were the biggest hurdles and challenges in the early days of your career? How did you deal with them?
I am a first-generation lawyer with no one to guide me through the nitty-gritty of legal life. The most challenging part for me was deciding the course of my legal career. When I joined the university as a law student, I was unsure about my career plans after LLB. I did not know whether I wanted to go for litigation, corporate law, competitive exams, or other practice areas. My way of overcoming the hurdles and seeking clarity was to experiment and delve into different domains of law. I did not restrict myself but interned in vast areas of law and with various organisations to gain a deeper understanding about what suits my future goals.
When and how did you decide to pursue masters?
I was intrigued by criminal law since I first laid my eyes on the coursework in the first semester. By the penultimate year, I was certain I was interested in gaining a more profound knowledge of criminal law and pursuing my master’s degree in it. My internships in criminal law with advocates, the state organisations like Delhi State Legal Services Authority, and the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights were riveting and enlightening. They helped me solidify my commitment to studying criminal law at the postgraduate level.
How to apply for masters in foreign universities? Do students need to take any exams?
The application for masters abroad is substantially different from Indian universities. Each university has its criteria and requirements. It is wise to be up to date with the university websites where you would like to apply. Overall, the universities require a statement of purpose, undergrad transcripts, letter of recommendations, cv, IELTS score, and writing sample. This is not a fixed structure, so do check with your university of interest.
Coming to the examination part, most universities require a minimum English proficiency for their masters’ students from a non-English speaking majority country. The bar for English is usually higher for masters of law coursework but is subjective to the University. There are various exams you can take to prove your English proficiency. The two famous ones are TOEFL and IELTS; I wrote IELTS. I would suggest being thorough with your research, checking the university’s criteria, reading about the exams, and choosing what suits you better.
How did you go about choosing a university? How did this influence your career?
I had few definite parameters for selecting my university. It is crucial for one to know what they want and what is non-negotiable for them. You would be associated with this university for all your life, and it would impact your future decisions. I wanted a reputable research-based university that offered scholarships with an LLM Programme in Criminal Law in the UK. I made a list of universities based on their global ranking, focusing on research, criminal law, the professors who taught the programme, and the scholarships available for international students. I applied to a few universities in the UK that fit my desired parameters and finally accepted the offer from The University of Edinburgh.
The education from your dream college opens a whole new world. Under the aegis of professors who hold global repute, I developed the technical legal skills and soft skills for employment. It honed my competency in legal research, writing, and editing. I studied with an international crowd that made me culturally aware and sensitised me about differences across the world. The university also provided many career services, conducted workshops, and advised students with their future career planning.
Do you think that the Indian law universities need a change to match up to the standards of foreign universities? What can be done in order to make Indian Universities more conducive for learning?
The universities in the UK and India are very different. It is not an abstract difference but an overall 360-degree change in how education is perceived. These changes cannot be brought solely at the university level, but the education system would need a lot of reformation. There are minor shifts that Indian law universities could adopt for the overall development of the student. The professors should encourage more interaction in the classes, let students submit their arguments and opinions without the fear of being rebuked about it. The tutorials should be well implemented and inspire a scholarly discussion.The university could provide better guidance about future career options, be it a job or higher education. They could organise quality lectures and workshops to teach the students more than just textbook knowledge. There is often a gap between what students learn in the classroom and the applied knowledge in the workplace. Conscious steps should be taken to bridge the gap and support the students from an early level.
What would be your advice to our budding lawyers?
In one line, I would say, ‘Don’t give up, you got this.’ I understand how intimidating and taxing legal education can be. It is really easy to feel overwhelmed and burnt out as a young law student. Pause and think about your priorities and career goals. Even if you are not sure about what you want after law school, it is okay. Explore your options, talk to your professors, seniors, course mates but decide for yourself. It is important to remember you don’t have to do it all or follow in the footsteps of your fellow mates. Do not give up; take a break.