Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Date : March 28, 2023
To : Young Lawyers


For this post, I interviewed two Turkish Lawyers/LL.M. students about their experiences during the 2022-23 academic year so far, with the hope that it provides some insight into LL.M. life at Queen Mary University of London School of Law.

Mustafa Mert Dicle and Begüm Geçgel answered my questions to inform foreign-trained lawyers and prospective LL.M. students about the application process and the range of activities and classes each has enjoyed. I sincerely thank Mert and Begüm for their answers. AAY



AAY: How and why did you decide to pursue an LL.M. degree?


MERT: My interest in international dispute resolution and arbitration began during my sophomore year at Istanbul University Faculty of Law. Through Willem C. Vis Moot Court, ILSA, ELSA, and my very own Dispute Resolution Club, I have expanded my knowledge in the field. After graduating summa cum laude from Istanbul University Faculty of Law, I started to work at the dispute resolution & litigation department of Paksoy, where I had the chance to be a part of significant arbitral proceedings and see the practice. During this period, I also attended further ICC YAF and ISTAC events and acted as an arbitrator at several moot court competitions.   Finally, I worked for 4 years in the dispute resolution department of Hergüner Bilgen Üçer Attorney Partnership, which handles several arbitration cases each year. All of these experiences led me to the result that transnational justice can be best served through the means of arbitration. Therefore, pursuing an LL.M. in the UK was the next step that I should take to further increase my knowledge in the field and get acquainted with the international arbitration community.


BEGÜM: Pursuing an LL.M. degree has always been one of my career goals since beginning my bachelor’s degree.  There are several reasons for that, which I will explain in two different asides. From the professional side, it has numerous advantages, such as the chance to boost your career in a specific field of law. The specialization provides fundamental knowledge about a particular field that will facilitate employment opportunities. In addition, an LL.M. degree is a visionary springboard for Ph.D. degree possibilities afterward. On the other hand, from the social side, it gives various opportunities to enhance social and communication skills. Living in another country with a second language and meeting people from around the world seemed like a unique chance for me. It was obvious to me that studying for an LL.M. degree would provide me with benefits in professional and social ways. As a result, after receiving my lawyer’s license from the Istanbul Bar Association, I began researching specific areas of law in which I was interested, as well as the country and university.


AAY: How did you decide where to study?


MERT: London is an international hub for arbitration. Due to the presence of the London Court of International Arbitration, hundreds of arbitration cases are handled in London. Therefore, London was the right address for me. Thus, I have chosen the Comparative and International Dispute Resolution program at the Queen Marry University of London. To begin with, this program is among the most reputable programs in the field, and I have always looked for academic perfection in my career. I was especially thrilled since Queen Mary’s international arbitration surveys have a huge impact reflecting the latest trends, and I always want to keep myself up to date in arbitration. Finally, I was excited about taking the class of Professor Loukas Mistelis, who has an excellent reputation as a scholar. Moreover, I have also applied for a Chevening Scholarship. Chevening is the UK government’s international scholarships and fellowships program. Funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) and partner organizations, Chevening offers individuals who show potential to inspire, inform, and influence positive change the opportunity to study at a UK university to gain a UK educational qualification. I got accepted by the Queen Mary University of London and I was also awarded a Chevening Scholarship. So, here I am!


BEGÜM: English is undoubtedly essential for those who want to pursue a global career. I wanted to study in a country where the main language is English. For that reason, the United Kingdom has one plus essence for me.  Another significant point was that after finishing my master’s degree, I would be able to apply for a graduate visa, which would allow me to stay in the UK for two more years with a full-time work permit. In that sense, it is a great experience to work in the UK for 2 more years after graduation, without requiring sponsorship from companies or law offices, and to enhance my skills and career by working in a global workplace. This constitutes the key element of my consideration because I would like to work in an international work environment. In addition, given the work culture in the UK, according to my research, it is important to hire someone from a different background or culture. I would like to evaluate this chance after my graduation and be involved in a challenging career pathway beginning in my early career steps. Last but not least, the education quality and wide-ranging student population are pretty high in the UK. Hence, inevitably, I decided that studying and working in the UK would have an exclusive effect on my career and personality.


AAY: What is your most important piece of advice for developing a well-crafted LL.M. application?  


MERT: Be aware of your short and long-term goals and reflect in your application on how that particular LL.M. program will serve your goals. Especially if an application is made to a UK university, rather than solely focusing on personal traits, the applicant should focus on why they would like to study at the given university and back their reasons up with research on the university, specific program, courses, lecturers, and other social opportunities.


BEGÜM: In my opinion, the key part is to decide which area of law interests you and how you want to pursue your career. First and foremost, selecting an interesting area for yourself will benefit your application and, to some extent, reflect on the motivation letter.  It is significantly important that you may reflect your interests, your willingness, and your excitement in the motivation letter. Therefore, if you are determined on your specialization, everything may fall into place. As important as it is for the application process, it will always have the same effect on your LL.M. Because studying your enjoyable areas of law will utilize your adaptation to lectures, increase your motivation, and have a beneficial effect after you graduate. As a result, I definitely recommend to people who seek an LL.M. degree in a foreign country that they should determine their interests and reflect their willingness in their motivation letter.


AAY: What is your LL.M. specialization?


MERT: I am doing the Comparative and International Dispute Resolution LL.M. at the School of International Arbitration. Being established in 1985, the School of International Arbitration offers the oldest LL.M. program in the entire world, which specializes in arbitration. Since its establishment, more than 4,000 students coming from at least 110 different countries have graduated from the program. Many of these are now successfully practicing arbitration all around the world as advocates, in-house counsel, academics, and arbitrators; including graduates serving at international organizations such as the UNCITRAL and the World Bank or working for major arbitration institutions.


BEGÜM: My specialization is Technology, Media, and Telecommunication law. It is basically related to how new technological developments affect traditional laws and regulations in the first place. There is a wide range of module selection possibilities. It is the best choice if you are interested in technology and would like to combine technology and law together. It provides a broad perspective while increasing understanding of various jurisdictions. Furthermore, you will be able to demonstrate the immediate effects of technology on law and expand your knowledge of new technological developments. For that reason, you always improve your critical thinking and critical writing skills while studying in that area. As we all know, technology has far-reaching consequences on various job sectors, necessitating new regulatory changes to keep up with the times. Knowledge in that field will open doors and create opportunities in the job market, putting you ahead of the competition. These were my reasons for preferring this specific field of law.


AAY: What would be your most important LL.M. course selection tip?


MERT: First, review the syllabus of all potential modules in great detail and then discuss module selections with recent alumni prior to submission. This enabled me to access many inside tips regarding different modules and module conveners.


BEGÜM: In my opinion, the most important advice is to define your interesting areas of law and be aware of your course modules. It is extremely important to carefully consider and well-research the modules of your course and how the university permits module selection from different courses if you have specific interests apart from your specific course. The other point is to research the post-graduate possibilities and career paths. It will give you knowledge about what possibilities you might have after graduation and which job areas you might work in specifically afterward. During your LL.M. degree, if you enjoy your lectures, it will contribute to your motivation and career in a good way. This might have led you to an inevitably successful LL.M. and work opportunities.


AAY: What has been the highlight of the 2022-23 academic year so far?


MERT: Going 100% face-to-face. I feel extremely grateful to be in London at a time when all of my classes and numerous arbitration events are taking place face-to-face. This enables me to bond with amazing colleagues that represent different jurisdictions, make some long-lasting friendships, and also increase my network in the field of international arbitration in a more effective and personal way.


BEGÜM: So far, the highlight and most crucial part of the LL.M. has been the exam period for me. It was tough to demonstrate motivation, complete the reading materials, and constitute your own understanding of them. Subsequently, you should show your critical thinking and critical writing skills in the assignments and exams. It is a stressful process, especially for the time-limited exams. The ability to reflect on your reading materials in the paper with your own perspective, as well as the ability to think broadly about the topic and your contributions, are key elements for having a successful exam period.  The management of this process has enormous effects on you and your abilities. It improves my skills and my understanding of the law that I have studied so far.


AAY: What is your favorite class? Why?


MERT: I had a very hard time making a decision for this question due to the quality of the modules that I take. Still, so far, International Arbitration and Energy is my favorite course. The energy sector is at the intersection between international investment arbitration and international commercial arbitration. Also, there has been a significant increase both in the number and in the economic and political importance of international arbitration proceedings in the energy sector. The fate of the Energy Charter Treaty is let alone a subject of interest. Climate change and sustainability are other highly debated areas. Thus, the topics covered in this course by the outstanding lecturer and the arbitration rockstar Professor Maxi Scherer are both practical and related to the currently discussed issues in the sector.


BEGÜM: My favorite class is EU Data Protection Law. I am particularly interested in global data protection law.  With this module, I have understood EU data protection laws, adjustments, and member states’ examples of regulatory frameworks from their perspective of law. I generated a detailed understanding of the data protection approach in the EU and also compared it with other jurisdictions like the UK.  This area will always change with new laws and technology. It was beneficial to talk about new developments in the class, discuss them in the tutorials in small groups, and combine them with the current legislation. Every day, you may come across new regulations in this area, and you may also share your own ideas about new regulations, which would be fantastic.


AAY: What is your favorite activity you enjoy outside of academics?


MERT: Exploring endless museums, art galleries, and cultural sites not just in London but also in other parts of the UK. Recently, I got into the habit of renting a car together with my classmates to make road trips to visit different cities and cultural sites, including Bath, Oxford, Birmingham, Cambridge, and Stonehenge. Edinburgh is next on my list. Also, strolling on Regent Street or visiting the British Museum and the National Gallery always cheer me up.


BEGÜM: Apart from academic life, networking events are my indispensable activity in London. Networking events mean that some law offices or companies organize events with authority figures and students, where you can meet with them in an informal setting and expand your network and social skills. It has a significant impact on your social development as well as meeting experienced people who work in your areas of interest. It may be possible for you to advance if you maintain good communication with those who can advise you on your job applications.  Some of these events focus on the application process for their specific offices, so you can get detailed information about the processes and ask questions in depth. Some of them are more informal; you may have a conversation about career pathways or living in London. Either of them is quite enjoyable for increasing your professional and personal skills. To sum up, networking events boost career development and social skills, making them my favorite activity outside of academic life.

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