The way he tells it, Soumik Chakraborty’s Master of Laws (LLM) journey has been the result of accidental good fortune. But looking deeper, it’s clear that his success is the result of preparation meeting opportunity.
When he first began his search for a masters program, Soumik did not initially have Australia in mind. However, after some urging from his parents, buoyed by the presence of close family members in Sydney and a serendipitous discussion with a friend who had also attended Melbourne Law School (MLS), Soumik decided to apply.
“I was motivated to pursue my course at MLS after speaking to a former student and Alex Chernov scholar, Varada Balachandran,” said Soumik. “Frankly, I didn’t think I had a chance because I’d missed the application deadline by about a week. But the University was gracious enough to accept my application and offer me a position. It was only then that I went online and checked Melbourne Law School’s credentials and was absolutely blown away.”
Soumik explained that having “lucked into an amazing law school”, accepting the offer was a “no brainer”. The extensive list of subjects on offer through the Melbourne Law Masters program also happened to suit his interests perfectly as, although he’d worked in both financial and intellectual property law for several years, Soumik’s decision to undertake a masters wasn’t driven by the pursuit of a particular specialisation, but rather the desire to learn new things.
“I simply picked subjects that I’d find interesting and compelling to study, such as Artificial Intelligence and the Law, Esports and the Law, Biodiversity Law, and Comparative Indigenous Rights,” said Soumik. The program allowed me to explore not just esoteric ideas through research papers, but also to make critical arguments on speculative matters, such as granting legal personhood to artificial intelligence – which made the science fiction fan in me really happy,” he continued jovially.
The most rewarding part of the course for Soumik was the many opportunities for personal and professional growth. He enjoyed volunteering for two student-run, not-for-profit organisations – the Student Welfare Outreach Team (SWOT) and Global Health Youth Connect (GHYC) – as well as participating in the Law School’s ELLIS Program, which is designed to provide international students with a month-long experience of working in Australian industries.
Soumik also enjoys writing fiction in his little spare time and greatly appreciated Dr Chantal Morton’s workshops, which he said were “very helpful in guiding me on how to write better and prepare research papers more efficiently, as well as being instrumental in helping me grow as a person, building my confidence and making new friends at MLS”.
The influence Soumik’s peers and professors have had on him has been significant. “Meeting people from all over helps you see how the rest of the world lives and opens your mind up to new experiences, removing any misconceptions or prejudices,” said Soumik. “Also, the humility and kindness with which our professors interact with us, thinking of us as peers despite being so accomplished themselves, is something I aspire to embody if I ever reach the heights they have.”
Describing law as a bit of an “arranged marriage situation”, Soumik seems a little surprised and elated by how much he thrived while studying his Master of Laws (LLM). Academia agrees with him so much that he’s looking into PhD programs so he can go into it full time. “My mum has been teaching mathematics back home in India for nearly 26 years and keeps telling me about the rewarding experiences of teaching. If I get accepted into a PhD program, I might try and motivate her to finally apply for her PhD as well.”
Soumik’s advice to people thinking of applying to the Melbourne Law Masters program is to not hesitate: “Not only will they receive a degree from one of the best law schools in the world, they’ll also have equal opportunities to excel, thrive in an atmosphere that celebrates them being themselves, and be able to broaden their horizons and grow as people.”