Student Report: Universidade Católica Portuguesa

A lawyer from Lisbon talks about doing an LL.M. in her hometown

My name is Ana Santos. I am 23 years old and from Lisbon. I finished my 5-year law degree at Lisbon’s Católica University in 2006, and am currently pursuing an LL.M. at the same school. For me, continuing my studies here was a natural choice, because it is so close to home, and it is the first time that such a program has been available in Portugal. I very much wanted to complete an LL.M. because I had previously been an exchange student for a semester at Duke Law School’s LL.M. program in Intellectual Property.

Católica University introduced the concept of LL.M. to the Portuguese academic and legal community in 2006. Its goal is to provide students with a solid background in trade and business issues from an international perspective. Students here receive preparation in a wide range of International Trade and Business Law-related legal domains, such as Sales and Investment Law or Contracts, International Business Transactions, International Intellectual Property and Arbitration.

The LL.M. begins in mid-September and runs for roughly ten months, encompassing six core courses and several short seminars and conferences spread out over three terms. Most of the LL.M. faculty is composed of foreign law professors from universities in the United States and Europe. Core courses professors stay at Católica for a period of three months, devoting six hours per week to each course, which enables them to focus more on the students. Classes here are generally small: core courses tend not to exceed twenty students, and seminar groups are even smaller.

Maybe because of my background in this field, my favorite seminar so far has been International Intellectual Property taught by Professor Uma Suthersanen. My favorite core course this semester has to be Electronic Commerce with Professor Ray Nimmer. Still, it has been great to have the opportunity to deepen my knowledge in other legal fields that I wasn’t all that familiar with before. Next year I will be going back to the United States, where I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in law. Eventually I want to come back to Portugal to teach and work in the Intellectual Property field.

While studying at Católica, international students are offered the possibility of doing an internship at one of the important Portuguese law firms. Foreign students also find some time to enjoy Portuguese lifestyle and culture, and some enroll in language courses.

Católica is located in the center of the city, close to downtown. Most foreign students live in one of Lisbon’s historical neighborhoods, and get around by subway or bus. Lisbon is one of Europe’s oldest capitals, offering an amazing contrast between present and past. An entire neighborhood by the river was rebuilt in 1998, when the city was home to the World-wide Exhibition, just a few kilometers away from the where ancient sailing ships used to depart for and return from Asia and South America.

Lisbon is also a cosmopolitan metropolis, full of cultural and sporting events. There are many attractions just outside the city, such as the picturesque small town of Cascais and UNESCO’s World Heritage village of Sintra, not to mention Spain (it’s approximately two hours by car to Andalucia). The south of Portugal, well-known for its beaches, is a spot that attracts tourists from all over the world year-round.

Ana Santos - Class of 2007.


Image: "Tram 28, Lisbon" by Dr.G.Schmitz / Creative Commons (cropped and rotated)

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