Posts tagged LLM

How I decided on an LLM program at Georgetown Law

I will just write it. Plain and old. Waiting for the right time hasn’t allowed me to write on so many beautiful experiences that could’ve been a blessing to the world. So here’s this one on deciding on an LLM degree at Georgetown Law- before it gets a bit too old for me.

I was in Port-Harcourt, and I had a green bound journal – actually, it was pretty much a cyan colour. I had bought it myself from a mall (Port-Harcourt Market Square). In this journal, I had scribbled all sorts. Plans with mister lover, some “bite-sized” revelations, and in greater volume for its dedicated purpose, – my plans for grad school. There had been a quickening of my plans for grad school – my thoughts about it at the time weren’t the most relevant. It was more of a quickening from heaven, an urgency I couldn’t shake off, and would prove itself true time after time. So I often was on my bed on many afternoons, scribbling stuff. I checked out all the top law schools in the United States. I checked the top schools because I was gunning for the best experience. One thing I always looked to have was an invitation/ special connection to the school. I weighed their writings and videos, the feel of the website, their centers and institutes, the faculty and scholarship specialization, I stopped short of specific course descriptions. I learnt about Law schools in the US, and boy, did I do it more when I made up my mind to go for a JD instead.

The plan was an LLM yeah, but then I began to consider plans of staying back in the US – which was never my plan originally. Having that new plan, I set to work discovering the legal job market and my research seemed to always yield one thing from a vast source of knowledge: The LLM program may not be the best way to secure a job as a lawyer in the US. The sources, including the schools themselves lol, said it was competitive and to not have high hopes. So instantly, my fast-moving brain began to seriously consider a Juris Doctor degree. At this point, I did way more research. I got into contact with a Nigerian who was preparing for the JD as well. I checked out a lot. I began prep for LSAT (Thankfully, I didn’t do this for a full week. That exam humbles people. weeps). Then one day, I heard God speak to me; I had been sending myself on an errand. You see, I had began my prep for a JD out of fear. Scriptures tells me whatever is done outside of faith is a sin, Romans 14:23. Oh mine. It was a cold realization. I had taken the report of the US legal market being competitive and devised my own plan. That day, I cancelled my JD plans. This is probably crazy for someone who is not used to hearing God speak. Most people (read “Bio-form-filling Christian”) take steps and want God to bless it. Now, he wouldn’t ‘not’ bless it, he is rich in mercy and abounding in Love. However, you may want to consider a Christ-driven life.

I quit JD plans and paused LLM plans (I would as well have been quitting LLM, had I not realized God wanted me to go on, and he gave me the vision for the LLM program to start with). Now, if you have attempted an LLM application, you may be wondering what is with the plenty preparation in my journal that I highlighted above. Part of what made my search crazy long was because of my field of study. That is what this particular blog post will focus on.

For context, this was in the middle of Covid-19 lockdown and restrictions in Nigeria. I was in Port-Harcourt and the governor was particularly bent on more restrictions. My workplace wasn’t interested in having me either, but I wanted to work. I guess that was what made me very introspective about what I want to spend my time doing. I knew getting back into serious work, I really wanted to go in hot with impact. I wanted to release what it was I had inside of me and be a blessing to others. Practicing in a law firm wasn’t going to give that to me, neither was in-house company Law. I always sought a larger client base. Being in that contextual space, I thought of what job I would do if I wasn’t being paid for it. It wasn’t going to be clear-cut Law. For clear-cut Law, I think my charges have been quite firm – all in kindness ?. I know as a practicing lawyer, I will bill. Law is a career for me, and it is my ethical responsibility as a lawyer to bill ?. The thing I wouldn’t bill for is being a blessing to others; helping, ensuring people’s welfare. This was something resonating with me deeply. I wanted desperately to have people realize their inherent dignity – imago dei. To know they are the splitting image of God, and that no one should ever make them feel less than, because of their socio-economic status. Never. And that people can and should achieve their dreams without anyone, not even the State, standing in their way.

This led me to search for an area of law I didn’t know how to find. What was I looking for? It beat me, but I was searching. That, friend, was why I had that journal that I scribbled plenty into (asides the part that held my earlier sojourn into JD, and as you will learn, MPP). I kept trying to find what legal discipline would give me that job I can do without getting paid for. Then on a call with a stranger from Columbia who had given me an hour of her precious time, I picked up the word “International development”. She had heard me talk about my passion, and she’d said “okay, so its development-oriented...”. I can’t give you the long gist of it, but I stumbled onto Masters of public policy, M.Sc International development, M.Sc global studies, and locating the best schools for those in the US became my priority. I came back to an LLM with an assurance from God (I heard God quickly too because I wasn’t interested in studying math in any shape or form. weeps).

There are about two schools in the world that quite clearly have an LLM specialization referencing international development, and I DIDN’T want either. As I end this interesting read, I learnt I could study International Law and pick course modules pertaining to development and that was my route in picking the most sought after Law school in the US.

This story about deciding on an LLM degree at Georgetown Law is one about the definitive start of my journey to the US. It also is a story to tell you to re-evaluate your reason. Are you taking some steps because of a mental calculation? Are you being a foolish Galatian to have started a project in the Spirit and to seek to complete it in the flesh of your reasoning (Galatians 3:3)? Are you concerned about your ministry? Or that is on pause until your career is “established”?

Is it ever really established?

Is your career your ministry?

I will see you in my next post. If this has been a blessing to you, do share it with others and tell me below.

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