June 3, 2014
2014 College of Law graduate Shruti Bhutani Arora, a native of India, completed a combined B.A./LL..B. degree at the Army Institute of Law in Mohali , Punjab, in the early 2000s, and practiced trademark law at a boutique IP firm in New Delhi for several years before getting married, coming to the U.S., and deciding to attend a U.S. law school, namely the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law’s Global J.D. program.
In the interview below, she describes the contrasting Indian and U.S. approaches to teaching legal education, talks about her plans for the future, and explains why she “didn’t think twice” about choosing the College of Law.
What first interested you in law school? And, more specifically, when you were applying, what about the S.J. Quinney College of Law's Global JD program particularly appealed to you?
I was a practicing lawyer in India. When I relocated to Miami from New Delhi after getting married, I required a J.D. for getting admitted to the Florida bar. I was looking for schools which offered credit to foreign-trained lawyers. I applied to S.J. Quinney College of Law due to their honest and clear policy on how the program handles foreign-trained lawyers, including transfer of 30 credits and same degree as a regular J.D. When I talked to the admission offices of some other law schools, I found that this frank and upfront disclosure was missing. I visited the S.J. Quinney College of Law and loved the small class size, approachability of the professors. So, when I got the acceptance here, I didn’t think twice and decided to pursue this course.
How was the experience different than what you expected?
To tell the truth, I had no idea what to expect from J.D. program. I had spoken to two U.S. lawyers before applying and they both had attested that it is difficult, but fun. And it was.
Do you have a favorite memory that you would like to share (maybe a favorite professor or class)?
While there were many classes which I liked, if I had to pick a couple, I would say that Professor Richards’ legal methods class was my one of my favorite classes. I learned a lot, especially the American approach to legal writing, and it gave me tools for reading cases, which I did not even know that I was missing. I also enjoyed Professor Threedy’s class on Contracts and Professor Anghie’s class on International Business Transactions.
What are your plans after graduation, and what influence did the Global J.D. program play in that decision?
I am planning to take the Florida Bar. I will try to focus on comparative law, especially if I get opportunities with law firms doing business in US and India.
How do the Indian and U.S. approaches to teaching law differ?
Before answering this question, I would like to add that I went to law school in India in 2002 and what was true in my case may not be true anymore.
In the U.S., there seems to be almost equal weight to the skills and the doctrinal courses, whereas at my school in India, that was not the case. Here, especially in the first year, there was a huge emphasis on legal writing which was extremely helpful.
Also, there are significant differences in the way law is taught. The teaching method in U.S. is based on application of the Socratic method in classroom. In India, classroom teaching is primarily lecture based. Furthermore, law in my Indian law school was taught primarily by teaching doctrines, rules and code sections and the cases were used as examples. Here in US, law is taught by analyzing cases and the process enables students to synthesize the rules and legal doctrine. There is also active class discussion here in the U.S.
Would you recommend the Global J.D. to other prospective international students? If so, why?
Definitely, because it trains you to think like how a U.S. attorney schooled here would analyze a case. While the intellect and outlook a person has are important, formal training that one receives plays a crucial part in the overall thinking.
Under the Global JD program, foreign attorneys can complete the program requirements in two years. This is helpful for several reasons. First, it acknowledges previous legal training by advancing credits. Second, the course is fully integrated with the J.D. program. This ensures that students in Global J.D. program go through the same rigor that all first year J.D. students undergo, which is the foundation of legal analyzes. Third, this course puts foreign attorneys at equal footing with their US counterparts and fourth it removes limitation of jurisdiction in which foreign attorneys can practice within U.S.
In the end, I would just add that I am really grateful that I was given this opportunity.