LL.M.s in Germany: Learning Law in Europe’s Biggest Economy

Students flock from all over the world to learn how law and economy intersect in the heart of Europe.

Question: if you’re an aspiring lawyer interested in the intersection of finance and law, what’s a good European country to pursue an LL.M.?

Answer: Europe’s strongest economy, of course.

It’s no secret that Germany is a leading economic powerhouse of Europe, with a GDP that ranks in the top five worldwide. For that reason alone, many law students from all over the world come to Germany to obtain an LL.M. and learn about how the country uses law to help its economy.

“Germany is an interesting, economically successful country and the economic success has some legal roots,” says Heike Schweitzer, academic director of the Master of Business, Competition and Regulatory Law at Freie Universität in Berlin. “The program we are offering tries to teach something about the conceptual roots of economic success in a way to help understand what kind of legal structure can help the economic process.”

Freie Universität is just one of the universities in Germany that teaches students how law and economics intersect. The ILF Institute for Law and Finance at Goethe University Frankfurt am Main offers an LL.M. in law and finance. Bucerius Law School in Hamburg offers a Master of Law and Business Program. Saarland University in Saarbrucken’s LL.M.s in European law include courses in economic law, foreign investment and trade. The University of Cologne offers both an LL.M. in Business Law and an LL.M. in French/Germany Business law.

And that’s not to mention the European Master Programme in Law and Economics—or EMLE—program, which is offered in partnership between the University of Hamburg and other European universities.

Besides its strong tradition of merging law and economics, Germany is also attractive to economic law students because of places like Frankfurt, a financial center with a variety of law firms and banks, including the European Central Bank, where business is often conducted in English. Shen-Dee Kobbelt, head of programs and marketing at Goethe University Frankfurt am Main’s Institute for Law and Finance, says her program, which is taught entirely in English, caters towards business people who want to understand law and lawyers who want to understand how their field intersects with business.

“Part of the curriculum is to do a certain amount of finance and business courses. So they basically have the benefits of law education, but they also know how businesspeople and financial managers work. [They get the] perspective of managers and bankers,” Kobbelt says. “It’s a quarter business people and the rest lawyers. They can share perspectives and bounce ideas off each other.”

Kobbelt also points out that Frankfurt is currently positioned to compete against Europe’s most famous financial capital, London, which may soon become less accessible to non-British citizens following the “Brexit” referendum this month.

[See all LL.M. programs in Germany.]

Although these programs are available to both domestic and international students, Schweitzer says that German students who want an LL.M. typically take the opportunity to study in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands or France, so that they can study abroad and get some experience outside of the country. This means that often, many LL.M. programs in Germany attract mainly foreign students. For example, FU, which has 35 places, accepted students from 32 different countries this year.

Post-LL.M. job prospects in Germany and beyond

Besides hosting a financial capital and the tradition of merging law and economics, Germany also has another big asset to offer: the opportunity to find a job post-graduation in Europe’s strongest economy.

Ehab Shamah, an LL.M. student at FU from Syria, says he thinks many of his classmates chose to come to Germany so they could work in a rich and economically robust country. In his case, he chose FU because his brother already lived in Germany and because of the low cost of living in Berlin. Studying in Germany also gave him the opportunity to learn German, an important skill for living and working in the country. For his part, Shamah is planning to stay on in the country after he graduates; he has a job interview lined up with a German-based international law firm.

Of course, becoming a certified lawyer in Germany is a lengthy and arduous process, with seven or more years of legal education and clerkships required for students to become official members of the legal profession.

On top of the tangible work benefits of studying in Germany, officials also point out that the country has plenty of extra incentives to offer. Schweitzer says that many students are drawn to Berlin, known by many as one of the coolest, most multicultural cities in Europe. And Kobbelt says that traveling from Frankfurt is easy and cheap, a major draw for non-European students.

“For non-Europeans, it's a positive thing to be in Europe, to travel around Europe,” she says. “For Europeans it's not a big deal, but for people from the States or from Asia, then it's something special to be in Europe and to get to travel around Europe.” 

More info about LL.M. programs in Germany:


trist33    |    Aug 09, 2016 18:17
Interesting article. This is daunting, though:

"Of course, becoming a certified lawyer in Germany is a lengthy and arduous process, with seven or more years of legal education and clerkships required for students to become official members of the legal profession."

I don't think it's reasonable to assume that an LLM is all it takes to become a lawyer in Germany, or in many other countries for that matter.

But I wonder if there are other legal jobs that don't require this lengthy certification process?
chicken so...    |    Aug 11, 2016 11:54
Sure, there are most likely non-lawyer legal jobs in international organizations, clinics, and other orgs. However, unless you have a command of the German language and knowledge of the German legal system, these jobs will probably not be great jobs.

Most people probably use an LLM in Germany to get some international experience, rather than using it to land a job in the country.
rjrg1989    |    Aug 13, 2016 13:20
My wife wants to come here to Germany since I found a job here and she is already a lawyer in Cuba. Does anyone have any recommendations about how can she find a decent job? Would an LLM help her to achieve this?? She is already scare because everywhere she looks people tell her she won´t be able to work and she doens´t want to study another 5 years.
Thanks in advance
Alain    |    Aug 13, 2016 17:51
I think only degrees awarded from EU schools are accepted:


An LLM does not qualify you to practice law in Germany. But there are possibilities to work as a foreign lawyer:

rjrg1989    |    Aug 14, 2016 17:03
Thanks a lot I will look into that. She doesn´t want to be a judge or anything like that, she is more into legal advices in companies and so on. We have been thinking that maybe a master in bussines and law (MLB or something like that) would help here. She doesn´t want to study for another 7 years (or at least hopes that she doesn´t have to) so we are looking into the different possibilities. Anyone has any ideas??? Do you know about such masters in the are of Bavaria?
dipavali    |    Aug 17, 2016 18:25
I want to do llb in your Clg I am from India and completed my Mac micro so pls reply why's the process
easy_tiger    |    Feb 13, 2017 09:35
Very interesting article! Has anyone personal experience with an LLM in Germany? :-)
MBL-FU    |    Feb 14, 2017 20:46
Hi there, maybe I can shed some light on the situation in Germany: In order to practice as a laywer you either need to have studied law in Germany (2 bar exams) or to be a qualified lawyer in the EU and the work under the supervision of a Germany-qualified lawyer. There are - to answer your question, trist33 -, however, a multiple possibilities to work in Germany without being admitted to the bar. In bigger law firms, the workload is usually split between litigation lawyers and non-litigation lawyers and the latter don't need to be formally qualified as a lawyer. Your best chance is to look for law firms (or companies) with offices in Germany where the German office serves other countries, as well. These offices will usually rely on international teams to cover multiple jurisdictions. Here the skill of "liasing" with regional law offices and the understanding of complexe business transactions is much more important than your qualification in a specific jurisdiction.

That depends on the field your wife is qualified in, rjrg1989. Germany does not have extremely strong business ties to Cuba, so international law is the best bet for your wife. This can be WTO law, international IP law, or cross-border mergers....but also human rights law and immigration law. It really depends on her profile.

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