Hometown: Frankfurt and Mainz, Germany
Focus Area: Litigation, Civil Procedure, Contracts, Conflict of Laws, Cartel Damages
Experience Prior to LL.M.
Before coming to CLS, I finished my German legal education, which consists of two steps: education at University leading up to the First State Exam and the Referendariat, a two year period of several clerkships in all three main areas of law (civil, criminal and administrative/public law), concluding with the Second State Exam, which is the German Bar Exam.
Between the First and Second State Exam, I worked as a research and teaching assistant at my alma mater, the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, and wrote my doctoral thesis on the– back then– vividly discussed Proposal of the European Commission for a Common European Sales Law in the context of Standard Contractual Terms, their incorporation and assessment of their fairness in comparison to, inter alia, the German Civil Code and the United Nations Convention on the International Sale of Goods (CISG).
I had long thought about going abroad, not only to get another perspective on law but also to improve my English. As a University student, I had the privilege to attend a lecture by my then Common Law Lecturer, a native from Augusta, Georgia, who over the years has become a dear friend to me. The lecture focused on International Commercial Litigation and sparked not only my interest in litigation in general, but also shifted my focus to the United States as the place to go for further studies.
As this decision had been made, the remaining question was only where to go. After our written exams for the Second State Exam, my girlfriend and I made a road trip along the East Coast of the U.S. from NYC up to Boston, visiting Yale, Harvard and Columbia on the way. Although each university had unique features, Columbia stood out right from the beginning: based in one of the most famous and modern cities in the world, but at the same time offering a historic campus and an almost familial atmosphere. Hence, when I was admitted, the decision was a no-brainer.
Most Memorable CLS Experience
In retrospect, the LL.M. was without question the best year of my legal education and naturally several memorable experiences come to mind, both in and out of class. The by far funniest presentation I have ever seen by now was given by one of my classmates about the Bluebook at the end of our Legal Research and Writing class. His remarks together with the various pictures from situations in daily life, including reading chapters from the book to his kids as bedtime stories, were just hilarious.
Life After LL.M.
My time at Columbia helped me to decide what to do after the LL.M., and Career Services was a great support in this regard. At the LL.M. Job Fair at the end of January (after the heavy 2016 blizzard), I had the opportunity to talk to many German law firms to sound out opportunities to work as a litigator, which led me to my current work. Before returning to Germany, I also sat for the NY Bar Exam. Even though, I was already qualified as a German attorney, the two months after graduation and the exam itself were different from what I had experienced before. Not only the short time frame for preparation, but also the fact that you cannot use any textbooks/statute books was quite different from the German exams. I had already heard that many people would take the exam as well, but sitting there among thousands of other candidates in the big exhibition halls was truly a unique experience.