After almost one and a half years as a lawyer at WAGNER Arbitration, I plunged into the adventure of an LL.M. and set off on my journey to Edinburgh in Scotland, which was exciting and diverse, but unfortunately also ended a little prematurely.
Why an LL.M. and why so late?
I asked myself this question frequently during the preparation. The legal education with two examinations is already long enough and by joining the firm in 2018 I had actually already crossed the finish line. So why get out of the legal profession and into university again? For me there were two reasons:
First, I had missed going abroad for a longer period of time during school or university and did not want to pass on this experience.
Second, because as a lawyer in the arbitration field it is indispensable to have a certain degree of internationality.
The firm had supported and promoted this project from the very beginning. Even before I joined the firm, I had already communicated to Joseph and Philipp, who had encouraged me to do so while I was still a trainee, that I would like to do a Master’s degree, who for the same reasons as me considered this a good idea.
So where to? UK or USA?
A Master’s degree in the US is always attractive because of the reputation of the universities, especially those on the East Coast, but financially – without any significant scholarships – outside of the frames I had set myself.
As a linguistic equivalent to the US, Great Britain came into play and as I lacked a soft spot for London, I quickly chose Scotland and Edinburgh. A friend of mine had done his Master’s there years ago and quickly convinced me of the idea of moving to the far North with his rousing pleas about the city, the country and its people.
To keep working with the firm or not?
My decision meant that the paths between me and the firm parted from September 2019 onwards, at least spatially. The question therefore arose how we could continue our cooperation in a meaningful way despite the spatial distance without neglecting the Master’s degree and above all the Scottish lifestyle. At least as far as virtual communication was concerned, we found a good way to stay in touch and keep up to date on a regular basis about possible tasks and capacities. At that time, this degree of virtual communication was still new territory for us – a few months later it would have been different, but more about that later.
Of course, it was not a piece of cake to balance the Master, life in Edinburgh and work in the firm. There were moments when you had to pass on a pint in the pub to work on a submission in an evening shift and got annoyed about it. But it was also not impossible. In the end, the magic elements were mutual flexibility and communication. This was the best way to gauge how to properly use available resources – and in my opinion, we succeeded brilliantly. This was also because the firm enabled me not to work at fixed times, but trusted that I would get in touch or complete the assignments when I could.
Edinburgh in a nutshell
As a result, there was enough time to explore the city and to dive into student life again.
Edinburgh is extremely well suited for these purposes. At the start of the semester, thousands of students from all over the world flock to the city and enliven the campus, which is centrally located in the Old Town. Anyone who has visited Edinburgh will know the charm of the partly gloomy city, which, as a counterpart to the medieval castle above the city, is home to the Arthur’s Seat, which – if you take on the ascent – offers a breathtaking view over the city and the nestling Firth of Forth Bay.
The parkland in which the extinct volcano is embedded also gives you an idea of the impressive beauty of the Scottish Highlands, which was confirmed by my tours around Loch Lomond and to the Inner Hybrids. It hurts that, due to Corona, I could not start the tour through the country planned in June, because I had saved the highlights of Scotland, such as the Isle of Skye, for the grand finale, but postponed fortunately does not mean cancelled and I will come back again.
Brexit, Corona and an early farewell
It is also necessary to mention the things that – despite all the positive experiences – have put a damper on the year.
On the one hand, I am thinking of Brexit, which became reality during my time in Scotland. Even at the beginning of the Master’s in September 2019, there was hope that the British people would make a U-turn, hold a second referendum, and decide to stay in the EU after all. The disappointment was bitter. Not only for me, but also and especially for many Scots, the majority of whom had voted to stay in the EU and felt cheated out of their future. Indeed, I did not feel any change in my time because of the transition period agreed between the EU and Britain up to the end of 2020, during which the status quo before the Brexit is to be legally maintained. This is likely to change for the coming academic years, be it in terms of tuition fees, data roaming or visa issues.
On the other hand, the Corona pandemic also reached Scotland, which changed the year abruptly, although everyone involved mastered the resulting challenges, especially the rapid switch to running everything virtually, very well. More drastic was rather the fact that it became impossible to meet the new friends, to take full advantage of the city and what it had to offer and, in the end, to return to Germany much earlier than planned. That is a pity and the departure from Scotland could and should have been more fitting, but all these are thoughts that fade into the background when one recalls the many victims of the pandemic.
What remains from that year
That preceding paragraph does not take anything away from the fact that I had a fantastic year in Edinburgh, where I developed professionally and personally and learned to appreciate a new country and culture.
I am very grateful to the firm for giving me this opportunity, for supporting me and for working alongside me to make it happen. This is not a matter of course and will always remain a fond memory of mine. Sláinte!