John TaggartMaster of Laws
John is originally from Northern Ireland, and decided to pursue his postgraduate studies after working in legal practice for a few years.
City, University of London
Why did you choose to study for a Master of Laws (LLM)?
After completing my undergraduate degree at Queen’s University, Belfast I thought long and hard about the possibility of completing a masters degree. However, I was accepted onto the extremely competitive barrister training course in Belfast and decided to follow that path instead and practised law as a sole-practitioner for a few years. Yet the attraction of postgraduate study remained and I finally decided that I would take the plunge and apply. I saw a masters degree as a chance to further develop my legal knowledge with a view to making the transition from legal practice to academia.
Why did you choose City, and The City Law School?
The range of masters at City is really quite remarkable and something which the law school should be extremely proud of. After considering various institutions it was the chance to study Public International Law at a world-class institution in the heart of London that swayed my decision. Another important factor was the quality of teaching and the renowned lecturers who publish on the very topics that are being taught.
Which modules did you choose and why?
Whilst I completed the Public International Law module, I was able to choose some modules that incorporated criminal law which I had practised for a few years previous. For example, I studied the ‘International Criminal Law: the Practitioners Perspective’ module which was a fascinating insight into not just the theoretical underpinnings of international criminal law but also its operation in practice. I also studied International Law of the Sea and Public International Law with Katherine Reece-Thomas which were two outstanding modules. The ‘Criminal Justice: The Process of the Courts’ module was also fascinating from a domestic legal perspective and my dissertation is looking at the relationship between the doctrines of universal jurisdiction and the responsibility to protect.
Did you take part in any extracurricular activity?
During my masters year I had to strike a balance between concentrating on my studies and continuing to practice law. With time at a premium it was difficult to incorporate extracurricular activities into my diary. Nonetheless, there is absolutely no shortage of opportunities at City to get involved in activities such as mooting and different work experience initiatives. The law school is also excellent at bringing students together at key points in the year for social gatherings and I made sure I was present at these to get to know fellow masters students. It would be a shame not to make the most of the hospitality.
What advice or tips would you give to anyone who wants to study for a LLM?
Completing a LLM is not only going to develop your CV and broaden opportunities available to you, it will also allow you to focus on a particular area of law and gain a deeper understanding of it. I would say to look at the range of Masters specialisations that City offers and find the one that genuinely interests you the most. You should seriously consider, and indeed I would encourage you, to ask people either who have studied at City or even the staff within the law school about elements of the courses and/or modules that you might have further questions about. One thing I can genuinely say about all of the administrative and academic staff is that they take the time to respond to concerns and queries and that can make a huge difference.
What are your future plans?
I am due to commence a PhD in September 2017. I would like to progress into academia after finishing the PhD and wouldn’t rule out the possibility of balancing this with some legal practice.