Dhanraj Singh, is a graduate of the LLM in Drafting Legislation, Regulation, and Policy. Now he is the Assistant Commissioner for Economic Opportunity and Regulatory Compliance and MWBE Officer at the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
Please introduce yourself and provide a short overview of your experiences at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies.
I am the Assistant Commissioner for Economic Opportunity and Regulatory Compliance and MWBE Officer at the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development. More importantly, I am a proud graduate of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS), School of Advanced Studies at the University of London.
The two years that I was a student at the institute are undoubtedly the best two years of graduate level education I have experienced. I thoroughly enjoyed my interactions with the distinguished academics who exhibit a kind of care for students and their success that is extremely rare. Every time I reflect on this journey, it begins and ends with the discussions I have had with my professors and fellow students, many of whom are working professionals alike, who brings a rich and varied perspective on all aspects of the program.
Something that always fascinates me about IALS and is also one of the reasons I love this Institute, is how much flexibility it has built into the program assessments, contents, delivery, and interactions. This demonstrates the Institute and their staff’s profound understanding of the life of working professionals and the challenges of maintaining balance between work, life, and studying. Academics truly go above and beyond to ensure students enjoy their learning experience which in the end is always the best way to learn.
Why did you choose your programme?
I am not a lawyer, nor do I aspire to be one. Yet, I craved for a good understanding of the law, regulation, and policy – the mechanisms that collectively have a significant impact on our lives and the success of communities and countries. With this somewhat personal paradox, I spent almost a year searching for a law program that is can provide me with the education I seek. When I found the LLM in Drafting Legislation, Regulation, and Policy program and reviewed its content, after a moment of disbelief and double checking to make sure it was real, I was not just excited but inspire to undertake the training. Specifically, the way the program reduced the law into its smallest parts and train and educate students on how to put it back together, how it should work, and more importantly how to draft quality laws are remarkable. It is also what sets this program apart from others. As a trained economist, having this skill allowed me to look and laws, regulations, and policies from a completely different lens, not just from their objective but from their construction and operations.
What aspect of the programme did you most enjoy?
The aspect of the program that I most enjoyed is the drafting or construction of a law. Understanding, what constitutes a good law, properties such as clarity and simplicity, the different parts of legislations, and how to use carefully chosen words as building blocks for such laws is both fascinating and rewarding. It is almost as if you have a legal x-ray in which you can place any law and see how its internal mechanics are working or not, which gives you the insights necessary to either fix or improve it.
What facilities and resources did you make use of at the Institute and School of Advanced Study?
There are quite a few facilities and resources that I enjoyed using, these are the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), the many online law libraries, and the Financial Times subscription. The VLE made distant learning extremely simple and easy to use. It is the simplest online learning platform that I have ever experience and I have seen quite a few. It also gives you a greater control over how you study and learn which is a gift for working professionals. Access to the many online law libraries was simply phenomenal. I particularly enjoyed using the HeinOnline library. The Financial Times subscription was “ice ling on the cake” as we say in the Caribbean; I enjoyed being up to date on current legislative, regulatory and policy affairs which almost always finds its way in our classroom discussion. It was a daily opportunity to apply the training and education, and this was a source of encouragement and inspiration.
What was your experience of the teaching and teaching practices at the Institute?
The teaching and teaching practices at the Institute is one of the things that really sets the Institute apart from others. The mixed and balanced-approach including student-paced learning, manageable readings, practical discussions, and one-on-one discussion with professors prevented burnout and preserved curiosity and drive to engage with the materials.
As a professional student finding a source of encouragement and drive after a hard day of work makes a huge different in the overall experience. I can honestly say that I have not felt burnout at any point in time on the program. I would be remiss if I do not mention also that the assessment structure of the program – graded essays – is just perfect. It allowed students to engage the materials in a meaningful way with time to interrogate it without having to worry about a test or an assignment. The feedbacks from professors on graded assessments are always thorough and helpful in assessing your strengths and areas for improvements.
How do you think your experience of studying the course will help you in the future?
This is hardly a question of speculation for I am already receiving the returns of investing in this program. Professionally, I can speak and work on legislative, regulatory, and policy issues with much more confidence that before. I see not just the macroeconomic of big social policy goal of issue to be address but understand thoroughly the entire drafting process that is required to deliver a high-quality law, regulation, or policy.
The training and education I received on this program was also the single most important factor responsible for much successful candidacy for the Assistant Commissioner responsible for Economic Opportunity and Regulatory Compliance with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development. In this role, I lead an entire division that implements, monitors and enforces compliance with several city, state and federal laws associated with economic and housing development. Beyond being successful in my bid for this position, I am also able to confidently execute my responsibilities which includes conducting administrative reviews and develop and amend regulations and policies. As to the future, I am thrilled and very excited about what more this accomplishment will bring as a return for my efforts and investment.
What would you say to someone who is considering studying this programme.
If you are seriously considering studying this program, my advice to you is do not waste another day, just go for it. The opportunity to study at a world-renounced Institute that is the authority in the legal field that is staffed with academics that are truly leaders in their scholarship is worthy of your investment and efforts. Your experience will be most rewarding.
I was always on the fence about doctoral level studies but having completed the, LLM in Drafting Legislation, Regulation, and Policy at the Institute and experiencing first-hand how advanced level of study, despite the challenges and rigorousness of the program, does not have to be stressful but manageable and enjoyable without putting all of life on hold, I am looking forward to undertaking a PhD in Law at the Institute after a short celebratory break.