Soon after earning a law degree from a branch of the University of London in Pakistan, Shaleem Yaqoob moved to the United States and set his sights on a legal career here.
He began working as a paralegal at a small law firm in Stamford in 2011 and enrolled in the U.S. Legal Studies Master of Laws (LLM) program at UConn School of Law in 2013. Before finishing that degree, he enrolled in the Juris Doctor (JD) program and earned both degrees within three years, along with a certificate in International Human Rights.
Immediately after graduation in 2016, he served for a year as a clerk at the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court. He was admitted to the Connecticut Bar in 2017, and is a clerk in the Connecticut Appellate Court.
Yaqoob believes both degrees are important. The JD will help him build a law practice and the LLM adds luster to his credentials. “Because the LLM is an advanced law degree, I am sure it improved my candidacy for both clerkships,” he said.
He was able to earn both under a program that allows LLM students who qualify for admission to the JD program to apply most of their LLM credits to the second degree.
In his thesis, "Religious Identity and Self-Determination," Yaqoob wrote about whether international law permits secession solely on the basis of religious identity. It was uncharted territory in international law and piqued his interest. Attitudes toward religion are among the greatest contrasts between Pakistan and the United States, he said.
UConn Law was the right choice for many reasons, he said, including its reputation, academic offerings, affordable tuition and location.
“Looking back, if I had to decide all over again I would make the same decision,” he said.