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Natalia Roganova is our Summer 2004 Student of the Month

She scored a 265 on the TOEFL and got accepted to Stanford, NYU, and Harvard!.


This summer we decided to pick one honored student for a whole season rather than picking a new student each month when people are on vacation and not so likely to be looking at our site. So choosing someone to be the honored student on our web site for a whole season, we knew we had to pick someone very special. Our choice for this honor is Natalia Roganova. Natalia attended the Pericles TOEFL course last autumn, went on to achieve a 265 TOEFL score, and recently received acceptance letters from the LL.M. programs at Stanford , NYU , and Harvard ! After what she describes as "the terrible torments of choosing," she "gave it all to Harvard." Ironically, during her time at Pericles, Natalia was most worried about the essay section on the TOEFL, and spent much time and energy trying to overcome this challenge. She now explains that the application essays she wrote were the key to gaining letters of acceptance from three of the most prestigious universities in the world. Here is what Natalia had to say about her road to success, as well as how she plans to put her LL.M. to use.

What is your background and what inspired you to apply for an LL.M.?

My decision to apply for the LL.M. degree was a result of both my academic and professional development. I graduated from Moscow State University Law School with honors in 2002. During study, I concentrated on civil, commercial and constitutional law. I started practicing law after the first year at University: I volunteered for a local newspaper, Home Advocate , advising low-income people on their legal problems. That pro bono activity demonstrated to me the low legal conscience the majority of Russians have, and offered an opportunity to contribute to the development of the public's legal conscience. I also worked in the Moscow branches of two international companies, providing legal advice to foreign companies with business in Russia .

Currently, as an attorney at the Moscow office of a U.S. law firm, I consult Russian corporations in cross-border transactions and financing. I am proud to assist Russian businesses in building an international reputation and accessing international financial markets. During the course of studying and practicing law, I realized that key concepts of the U.S. legal framework for business activity, including antitrust regulation and financial transparency, need better implementation in Russia . At Harvard, I would appreciate the chance of taking certain fundamental courses in the corporate field, such as antitrust law, corporate law, securities, and international transactions. The LL.M. program at Harvard will provide a unique opportunity to learn from leaders in the field such as Reinier H. Kraakman, the developer of the "Self Enforcing Model of Corporate Law," which influenced Russian Law on Joint Stock Companies. This knowledge will be extremely useful not only in practicing law but also in helping Russian clients gain global exposure. This knowledge will also be useful in my practice of law and work on solutions for improving these areas of law in Russia , using U.S. experience.

What do you think was the key to your success on the TOEFL, and ultimately getting accepted to Harvard, Stanford, and NYU? What would you advise to other students considering applying for an LL.M. in the US ?

The TOEFL, as well as a significant experience practicing law (some of which while in law school), is a formal requirement that needs to be met. The rest is how an applicant can present herself within 500 words (for NYU), or in a two-page document (Stanford). The application essay is the only way an Admissions Committee can better picture and understand the applicant. Recommendations are also very important, but the key thing in my opinion is the essay.

What do you hope to do after you receive your LL.M.?

Upon graduation from Harvard Law School I plan to continue consulting Russian corporations and assisting them in getting global exposure, implementing new legal techniques and methods of interpreting the law. I plan to use my knowledge as a solid basis for a future Ph.D. in law, and I assume that I might suggest some of my future conclusions as a conceptual base for new legislation, which is of a high need for Russia . And finally, through pro bono work, I hope to help common people in coming to understand their legal rights and legal justice, as well as contribute to the public legal consciousness. All of this, I believe, will serve the greater goal of globalizing Russia both economically and culturally.