Morgan Li ’14 spent the fall of her 3L year at the Martin-Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany.
Why did you decide to study abroad?
One primary objective was to broaden my understanding of corporate and transactional law. I wanted to experience studying in a foreign country, to examine how foreign lawyers approach their profession, and to experiment with new assumptions as to what law is. Career-wise, I wanted to “internationalize” my resume more and improve my German. I could read, write, and understand German very well already, and knew that a semester abroad would work radical improvements on my conversational abilities.
I chose MLU because of the outstanding reputation of its law faculty in Germany, because of how welcome I was made to feel by the international students office and because of its location in Halle.
How did you prepare?
My preparation began two semesters before I planned to go. Because HLS does not have any ties to any German universities, I had to find a university that would accept me and figure out a schedule on which the semester abroad could work. I began the process of emailing various German faculties of law in November, and finally decided on MLU. My HLS advisor, Professor Spamann, was incredibly helpful. He translated documents both to and from Halle in the application process and encouraged me throughout.
I took a German language class at Harvard College in the spring semester. Although my German reading skills were already fairly advanced at the time, the course equipped me with greater confidence in speaking and listening.
Also during the spring, I applied for internships at law firms in Germany. Because I knew that the semester would start in October, I wanted to find something to do during August and September. For this I emailed Anne-Luise Chane, an LLM from Germany, to ask about possible firms, and received several recommendations in Leipzig, a city within commuting distance from Halle. I very easily got a Praktikum at one of the most acclaimed law firms in Germany.
What courses did you take at MLU?
I wanted to continue my law and business course of study, and add an international dimension by learning how corporation law and the regulation of markets is different in Europe. I also wanted to know more about partnerships, which are more common in Germany than they are here, and how foreign legal systems approach the regulation of business.
In the few weeks before the beginning of the semester I met with my advisor and chose four classes in the Faculty of Law (Introduction to Civil Law, International Economic Law, Company Law, and Partnership Law) and one German language class in the Institute for German Language and Literature.
How was the experience?
It was really eye-opening, and very influential both personally and career-wise. It was really empowering to pull it all together on my own, from choosing the school and classes to getting an internship and taking exams. I took oral exams for each of my courses, where the professor would ask me questions on legal concepts or terms, how I would solve a particular case, or we would simply discuss a particular topic from the course. I was very nervous before these exams because I had never had an oral exam before, much less in German, but it actually was a lot of fun and I enjoyed the time talking to the professors.
How did the semester abroad fit in with your career plans?
I was a 2L summer associate at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, and knew that I wanted to return there after graduation. I’ll be working on securities, and am very excited and happy to do so. Going to Germany really improved my business law literacy and I also have a better understanding of international attitudes to the regulation of corporations. My study abroad experience shows demonstrated interest in international work, and I’m thinking about how to move to Germany in the future.