Studying during a global pandemic and the impact of my experience on future career prospects
At the time of applying for the European Masters in Law and Economics (EMLE), I was in the process of completing my last year as a trainee solicitor. I had studied law for five years prior to this, completing the LLB Law (Hons), followed by one year studying the Post-graduate Diploma in Professional Legal Practice (the Scottish LPC equivalent and a requirement for the route to qualifying as a Scottish Solicitor).
My love for European culture and travel was the first driver leading to my decision to apply for the EMLE programme. Alongside my passion for research and continuous academic learning, my interest in innovation, and the interplay between law and economics and their impact on society.
The Application stage
Before applying for the EMLE, as a caveat I should mention that I never had any experience writing a letter of motivation nor had I studied economics at school or at University level. Therefore, if you are in any doubt whether or not to apply, do not let these factors hold you back from submitting an application. The EMLE assess applicants on the following criteria: 40% quality of the university career (including duration, number and quality of the degrees obtained, academic credentials and academic performance), 25% quality of your motivation letter, 25% affinity to law and economics (evaluated by subjects of previous studies and/or the essay part of the letter of motivation) and, 10% from letters of recommendation. Therefore, the heaviest weighted factor, and what should be the main focus of your application is your university experience and academic performance.
Covid-19 of course did create an unexpected level of uncertainty during our Masters studies between 2020-21. However, despite the difficulties we were faced with, as students who aimed to travel between three or more different countries in the space of one year (during a global pandemic). The EMLE team was on hand to answer all of our concerns and put our worries at ease. If you are in doubt about applying to study the EMLE as a result of Covid-19 then be rest assured that the team will ensure that your experience is as smooth and fulfilling as possible.
My Selected Study Track
I opted to study the Innovation and Intellectual Property track. The reason I chose this track is that innovation and legal tech are now the centre of focus for the future of law and economics. I was interested to study the challenges posed by smart contracts, self-drive vehicles and the interplay between big data and contract law. Further, I also was intrigued by the impact of law and economics on block chain technology and the IP issues arising from collaborative creativity and shared innovations.
In the first semester all students, regardless of their chosen country, study the same module subjects namely: Introduction to Law; Introduction to Microeconomics (these modules are both weighted together and an average is taken for your overall grade); Concepts and Methods of Law and Economics (L&E); Economic Analysis of Public Law and Economic Analysis of Private Law. I spent my first semester at the University of Hamburg, Germany.
As a side note, I should give a special mention to Dagmar, who was responsible for overseeing the EMLE programme on behalf of Hamburg University. She was truly dedicated to ensuring that we were supported and had the best experience possible whilst at the University despite the pandemic’s setbacks, and remained in contact with our cohort throughout the academic year.
My second semester was spent at the University of Ghent, where we studied the same subjects regardless of host country, alongside two additional track specific modules. In my opinion this semester was the most demanding timetable wise, however, Professors provided adequate support despite the requirement for a remote study environment. Also, during the second semester is when we were required to submit our thesis proposal for consideration.
Finally, my third and last semester of study was at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. Unfortunately I did not get to attend the University and live in Barcelona (due to UK Covid travel restrictions). I felt that I was given adequate support by the University’s Professors in a remote learning environment. In the third semester students study two module specific courses, in my case these were Law and Economics of Innovation and an Advanced Course in Intellectual Property. This then allows for plenty of time to research and write your thesis, and receive feedback from your assigned supervisor.
Before studying the EMLE, I was still unsure about the area I wished to practise in as a solicitor. I knew I wanted to work in the legal sphere, but had not yet made my mind up as to the specific area of law. I believe that studying on the EMLE Masters programme provided me with an extra edge in interviews with potential future employers. The majority of employers and recruiters I have been in contact with were very interested in the multi-disciplinary studies I undertook through the EMLE, and had many questions to ask in regards to my experience. In August last year, just two weeks after submitting my EMLE thesis I successfully interviewed with an International law firm, and was offered a role as a Travel and Tourism Solicitor. I now specialise in cross-border litigation disputes representing large insurance companies, and have experience in challenging the jurisdiction of the court. I believe that my Masters studies contributed to my success in securing my current job role. After all, how many candidates can confidently say at an interview that they have graduated with a Masters from three different universities in the space of one year?
My advice for anyone deciding to apply to study the European Masters in Law and Economics is to make a start as early as you can on your application and submit it in plenty of time. Also speak to previous alumni students by making connections via LinkedIn or the open facebook group. Lastly, be open minded about the countries and universities you wish to study at, as you are not always guaranteed your first choice, and these can be subject to change due to extenuating circumstances like Covid-19 restrictions on travel etc. However, no matter where you end up studying during your EMLE experience I can guarantee you that you will enjoy every minute and meet friends for life!
If you have any questions about what it’s like to be an EMLE student or would like to have an informal chat before applying please feel free to contact me via my instagram page @thescottishlawyer or connect with me on linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/nadiacook7/