It was the practical focus of The College of Law LLM that attracted lawyer Vinil Sharma. This instinct steered Vinil true, as he found solutions to problems encountered in practice in lectures. Insights spoke to Vinil about his College of Law experience, what made him major in family law and wills and estates, and what advice he might have for lawyers considering an LLM.
Q: What attracted you to an LLM?
I wanted to enhance my knowledge and experience in the area of Wills, Estates & Trusts, which is why I chose this specialisation. I was also attracted by the fact that it was coursework-based, not a fully academic LLM. I was able to apply my knowledge into everyday practice.
The reason I chose Wills, Estates & Trusts and Family Law is because of where I started my career, as a Court Support Officer in the Family Court. I then moved to work in the High Court’s Probate Registry, which provided great insight into how specialist courts worked. After working in the courts for almost eight years, I decided to obtain a law degree.
In my practice, I found that Family Law and Wills, Estates & Trusts were areas loosely intertwined.
For example, when taking instructions from a potential Testator, and drafting a Will, you can gain an understanding of their blended/external family requirements. This is where Family Law can come in handy. Only once you have a better understanding of both can you advise your client accordingly.
I found that it definitely suited my growing client base, as I was able to better advise them on their many issues.
Q: Where do you work now? What kind of challenges does it involve?
I am employed by a firm based in South Auckland. The most challenging aspect of my work is solving my client’s problems, which can often be a real balancing act.
Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
The most rewarding aspect of my career has been practicing litigation, both here and overseas. It’s given me an insight on the pros and cons of our system.
It has also led me to understand that litigation in any area of law does not need to be based on winning, but on achieving the best outcome likely to satisfy your client.
Q: How did studying with the College help you in your career? Did it help you better advise your clients, or progress your career?
The College's LL.M programme is very unique and rewarding. It provides a very pragmatic outlook, which can prepare you both academically as well as practically.
The College's online learning platform, plus its quality lectures, flexibility, and interactions with staff, colleagues have greatly helped in my daily practice. It’s helped me give better legal advice to clients with great confidence. It has also given me a distinct advantage by progressing my credentials to an all new level.
Recently, I was working on a case file and got a little confused. By consulting my lecture on the same issue, I was able to clarify the key matters, which helped me to deliver a great result.
Q: What advice would you have for LLM students looking to make the most of your study?
The College of Law LLM programme is just great. It will provide anyone with the required knowledge and experience to achieve a high standard and strong results, due to their practical approach to study.
It helps you expand your practice area. Its online delivery - from assessments, reading materials, to lectures - makes it a very convenient option for lawyers working full time.
Personally, I never felt I was studying a postgraduate course; due to the practical nature and flexibility of study, it just felt like another piece of my daily work life.
The College of Law LLM caused me zero disturbance as I did not have to do the running around in the course; everything was presented to me directly on my laptop. In my previous LLM degree, in Criminal Law, I had to attend classes, hold discussions with my lecturers and professors and be physically present with them. I even had to travel to the Uni Library for my research. As part of the College of Law LLM, we were provided with access to LexisNexis software which was very helpful. I’ll be using it in my work through the new year.
Q: What advice would you have for lawyers looking to break into your area of law?
I would just advise them to go for it. You can learn a great deal. While it can get a bit challenging, at the end of the day, it’s very rewarding. In my experience, it greatly enhances your Family Law and Wills, Estates and Trusts litigation skills.