2021 Lessons From the LL.M. – Vanessa Tsang

We asked the Class of 2021 to nominate their peers — whether inspirational leaders in the classroom or a student group,  activists or artists around New York City, or simply great friends and pizza companions — to share what they’ve learned over the course of their LL.M. year. The result, Lessons from the LL.M.

Here’s what Vanessa Tsang had to say:



Name: Vanessa Tsang


Hometown: Hong Kong



I love the subjects of international arbitration and international law. Before Columbia, I joined the Foreign Direct Investment International Arbitration Moot in Seoul, South Korea; the Intercollegiate Negotiation Competition in Tokyo, Japan; and the Hong Kong Climate Change Moot in Hong Kong. I was also studying law at The University of Hong Kong.

What’s next?

I moved to London and am thrilled to join Three Crowns LLP’s London Office as an Intern in Fall 2021. My long-term goal is to develop a career as an international arbitration lawyer and advocate.


Three things you learned during your LL.M. Year:

1) Be ACTIVE – Speak in class! Learning is a give-and-take process. The more you participate in class, the more your lecturers and peers can respond and add to your contributions.

2) Be REFLECTIVE – However, do think before you speak so that you can make quality contributions. Afterward, reflect on the content you absorb to maximize your learning outcomes.

3) ENJOY! – I met some of the most intelligent and kindest people at Columbia. I cherish every opportunity to interact and connect with them, and I am still maintaining my friendships with them after my LL.M. Do enjoy your LL.M. year, be kind and be friendly to everyone, and make friends!


New York Moment:

I completed my entire LL.M. remotely online. Having said that, my LL.M. friends did send me pictures of the Big Apple covered in snow in winter. It’s a winter wonderland! You can see that from Central Park and Madison Square Park.


Favorite Class:

Advanced Negotiation Workshop – There are many moments in life when we negotiate with people, e.g., negotiating with your siblings, buying a second-hand car, etc. The skills learned are not only useful in business but also life.


Best Coffee Spot: May I suggest the best coffee spot in my hometown? It should be Kaffeine in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong!


Best Place to Study: For many overseas LL.M., we love to study at WeWork! Do book a room in advance so that you can enjoy some exclusive studying space.


LL.M. Protip:

Columbia offers students many excellent opportunities to help them realize their academic and career goals.

Do research on journal editorships, fellowships, teaching assistant, research assistant (RA) positions, positions in the senate, etc., before you begin your LL.M. For me, I was fortunate to be a research assistant to Dr. Kabir Duggal. I also joined The American Review of International Arbitration and The Yearbook on International Investment Law & Policy as an editor.

The advisers at the Office of Career Services are very helpful. Do reach out to them and see if you can make an appointment to discuss your career goals, cover letter, and resume. Get yourself familiarised with Columbia’s job-hunting websites, i.e., Symplicity and the LL.M. interview program.

I wish I would have known that I could fulfill my LL.M. program requirement with non-graded law credits. Do talk to your academic advisers and start planning at least weeks (in my case, 4-6 weeks) before the semester begins.

Last but not least, if most of your courses are research/ paper-based, make sure you know how to use the Bluebook citation system!


Would you change anything? 

In the beginning, I was not sure I could handle the workload of my law courses, and thus hesitated and did not join any journals, clubs, associations, etc. It turned out time was more manageable than I thought, so I only started doing all these in the Spring. I would have joined all these to connect with more people and make more friends.