Issue 4, Semester 2
By Divyansh Sharma
For many JD students, the existence of the Masters cohort is largely a mystery. Aside from the occasional voyage up to level 6 to make use of their free tea bags and fresh milk, the two cohorts don’t seem to mix. Recently De Minimis sat down with Divyansh Sharma, the President of the Melbourne Law Masters Student Association (MLMSA), to learn a little bit more about the Masters course and the people who make up the cohort.
Could you tell us a bit about you personally?
I am a lawyer in the Tax Controversy team at KPMG Law, and I’m currently on study leave to undertake the Master of Laws (LLM) as a full-time student. I am also the President of the Melbourne Law Masters Student Association for 2018. I have worked at KPMG/ KPMG Law for over 3 years, and before starting in their graduate program, I completed a double degree in Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Commerce from Monash University. My hobbies include voluntary work, swimming and playing cricket and chess.
What kinds of people take the Masters courses?
The Melbourne Law Masters (MLM) program offers a broad range of law master degrees. These include the general LLM and specialised legal degrees such as corporate law, employment law, environmental law, and human rights law. The course-work for these degrees can be undertaken either part-time or full-time. The part-time option is extremely beneficial and popular amongst local professionals, as they can pursue these degrees while employed full-time. As such, the vast majority of part-time students are domestic students, whereas most of the full-time students are international students. Not all MLM students are practising lawyers. Rather, they come from diverse backgrounds and include engineers, doctors, accountants and many other professions in the industry or government. There is also a cohort of students who join directly after undergraduate study, while some international students are judges in their home country!
How do you engage with the wider MLS community?
As President of the MLMSA, I have tried to ensure that we work more closely with the law school and other university societies to increase the networking opportunities between MLM and JD students and academics. Our society and the Global Law Students association (GLSA) supported Melbourne Law School (MLS) in running a highly successful Global Legal Careers Week , during which keynote speakers, Masters and JD students were invited to speak about their overseas experiences.This year, the MLMSA and GLSA also established an integrated membership system including one sign-up for both societies, so that both masters and JD students could be informed about events and opportunities presented by the two societies. MLS runs a mentor program for international MLM students, where the students are matched with Law professionals who have post-law graduation experience. I also attend regular meetings with the Law staff members and executive members of other Law societies.
Is there a strong 'cohort feel' in the Masters course?
There is a very strong bonding amongst full-time Masters students, as this cohort largely comprises international or interstate students who live near the university and see each other quite often. This eventually produces great friendships as students jointly celebrate birthdays and organise farewells, study groups or picnics.
Part-time students find it a bit more difficult to form similar friendship,s as most work full-time and the majority are domestic students who live further from the university. However, strong comradeship does form between full time and part-time students during class discussion, which provides a great networking opportunity.
Personally, it has been a blessing to be one of the few full-time domestic students as I have learnt about different social and work cultures, and most importantly made many great friendships from people from all around the world.
What are some of the challenges in studying most subjects intensively? What are the benefits?
The Masters classes are run either as intensive classes (5 consecutive full-days weekdays), or weekly throughout the semester. Reading material for each unit is provided before the classes. While it is manageable to keep up with the readings during semester long classes, it can sometimes be difficult to do so for the intensive classes due to the condensed reading period and competing commitments for other units. However, the intensive units do foster strong networks through class discussions and bonding over lunch sessions. Furthermore, most intensive classes conclude with a small get together where the students and lecturer network over a glass of wine and nibbles.
Divyansh Sharma is a MLM student and the President of the Melbourne Law Masters Student Association.