An LL.M. in Germany: An Alternative Worth Considering

Studying European Law at the Europa-Institut in Saarbrücken

See also: LL.M.s in Germany: Learning Law in Europe’s Biggest Economy, published in 2016.

As I finished the first state law examination, my mind was already made up – I wanted to obtain an LL.M. Initially my sights were set on programs abroad. But the more I looked into it, the more obstacles became apparent: all that planning, high tuitions and living costs, and the narrowly focused curricula.

That is why I began to look into LL.M. programs in my own country, Germany. Along with the informative homepages of German universities, I discovered websites that provided me with useful overviews. I also read up on LL.M. programs in law periodicals and national newspapers.

At German universities nationwide numerous LL.M. programs have been established in recent years. The majority of these programs cover topics related to European law. This fit well with my goal of deepening my knowledge of European legal issues – something that would not have been as easy to do at law schools overseas.

I finally decided on the European Integration program at the Europa-Institut at the University of Saarland in Saarbrücken, a program that had been recommended on the website of the German Foreign Ministry.

Like most German LL.M. programs, part of the course is taught in German, but there is always the opportunity to take courses in English, allowing students to broaden their knowledge of legal English.

Many programs in Germany offer elective and obligatory courses in other foreign languages, such as French, Dutch, and Polish. Some German universities cooperate with foreign institutions, giving LL.M. students the chance to study abroad as part of the course.

Saving time and money

Compared to institutions in the Anglo-American world, German programs are also cheaper (and in some cases, free). The program at the Europa-Institut costs 3,000 Euros, which is relatively inexpensive.

One particular advantage of obtaining an LL.M. in Germany is the possibility of studying while doing the Referendariat, the obligatory two-year traineeship for German lawyers. In Saarbrücken, for example, the “block” course concept makes this possible. This organizational model – which defines blocks of time where students can concentrate on either work or study – not only saves time in terms of career development, but it also eases the financing of study and living expenses.

The decision to take this challenging work-study path paid off in the end. All five LL.M. students in my Referendariat group ended up scoring among the top third on the second state exam (Zweites Staatsexamen). Employers also tend to look favorably upon a student’s ability to handle the stress of this intensive work-study program.

An ingredient for success in Europe

Yet another advantage of German programs is their proximity to European legal institutions and firms. This often leads law programs to hire professors and lecturers who are also practising lawyers, and who can also help arrange internships for students. German programs frequently work together with international law firms, building links and connections that can prove useful for graduates once they start looking for work.

Successful graduates have made good use of their German LL.M. degrees. A look at graduates of the Europa-Institut suggests that a large number of them went on to jobs in European institutions, ministries, prestigious law firms, and big companies.

I guess my girlfriend and I – we graduated together – could also be included on the list of success stories. She has been working as an advisor on European affairs in the Culture Ministry in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, a job she landed primarily because of her LL.M. As for me, I’ve recently had promising interviews with a number of big law firms.

Article translated from German by V. Wish

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