5 Questions for an LL.M. Student -  Nicolás Costábile

Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL), LL.M., 2012-13

After seven years of practice, Uruguayan lawyer Nicolás Costábile came to QMUL to deepen his arbitration expertise and get a comparative, international perspective on law. He discusses his LL.M. experience, and how he thinks it will benefit his career both as a lawyer and a teacher.

What is your background, and why did you pick QMUL for your LL.M.?

I am a qualified lawyer in Uruguay. I have been practicing law for seven years – mostly commercial law, commercial litigation, and a little bit of domestic arbitration.

After seven years of practicing in Uruguay, I wanted to have another experience, and the masters was the right choice at the time. I chose England, and especially Queen Mary, because of its arbitration specialists. The City (of London) was a factor that came into consideration when choosing where to go for my LL.M., but it was mostly QMUL’s strong reputation in arbitration.

What was your favorite class during the year?

All of them were very good. The professor for International Commercial Litigation - Stavros Brekoulakis - was a very good surprise. The names that you have in your mind when you say arbitration, litigation, or alternative dispute resolution are (QMUL professors) Loukas Mistelis and Julian Lew. Brekoulakis is not as well-known as the others, but he's very good at teaching. International Commercial Arbitration was also very good, and was one of the most popular subjects in the LL.M. with around 130 people.

What was the most challenging thing about the year?

They give you a lot of reading for each class. You have to have a structure, and be very organized. I would say you have to read at least three or four articles for each class. I read for every class, and in the end, when I had my exams, it was easier for me, although it's still a very challenging part of the LL.M..

I had other friends who didn't quite follow that structure and fell behind in their reading, and they had more trouble with their exams. Once you get into the rhythm, it helps you in the end.

After seven years of practice, was it difficult to jump back into the academic setting?

At first, a little bit. But I noticed that for students who came directly from their undergraduate degree, it was a bit difficult because the approach here is very practical. You see cases, and you have to know how things really work in order to get the most out of it.

I would recommend that people to get some work experience, and then come. Of course, if you don't have any experience, it's also good, but for me, it's better with experience, because you can better appreciate what they're teaching.

What was the most important thing you got out of the LL.M.?

Lots of things. First of all, I get to see a different approach to teaching. It was a very rewarding experience, because I am also an assistant law professor law back home in Uruguay. I got to see how they teach here, and I'm very excited to try to apply those things once I go back.

Back home, in my case, the professors are all very theoretical. Here, the approach is very practical, and they prepare you more for your working life. The professors are very enthusiastic, and they love what they do.

Back home in my country, you can't live only on teaching. But here, there are full-time professors, so the classes are very well-structured and prepared. You find surprises in the material that they give you, like cases from just one month ago.

I also made a lot of friends from all over the world, and I'm sure they're going to be friends for the rest of my life. Most of them are going to have good positions in relevant places in law firms all over the world. I know that if I have some issue related to Turkey, I have Turkish friends who I can go to.

In terms of careers, they also help you stay here if you want to. They have a well-organized structure and lots of events with law firms, who share their views on recruitment, what they are looking for, and the possibilities of working in London. We received an email from the careers department twice a week about opportunities and events. Through my networking, I met one of the people at the London law firm where I am now doing a three-month internship.

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