Juristisches Internetprojekt Saarbrücken

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St. Louis Diary

September 13,1999


 

After three weeks at an U.S. I know one thing for sure: the academic live is distinctively different from the one in Germany. In order to receive my LL.M., I have to fulfill a requirement of least 24 credit hours in one academic year. Every hour of classes is considered one credit. During my first semester I am registered for five classes with a total of 13 hours per week. All of those classes are a part of the curriculum offered to the regular J.D. students. Since my main point of interest is within the IP and media law field, my schedule consists of classes in cyber law, copyright law and a trademark law seminar. To gain some knowledge of the basic principles of the American legal system I am also registered for a course in contracts law and a class in commercial transactions, that deals mainly with section 2 of the U.C.C. (Uniform Commercial Code). Although this schedule, just considering the hours of courses during one week, seems not to be very tough in comparison to German standards, the effort of preparation for each class is much bigger. American universities prefer a system of Socratic teaching. That means that every professor gives a reading assignment, in most cases 30 up to 60 pages, that ha to be prepared for the next class. During the class the professor will discuss the reading assignment with the students, asking questions and calling on them random wise. Every class ends with a final exam. In most cases this will be a closed book multiple choice examination, only the cyber law exam is going to be a 24 hour take home exam, that requires some research effort over the internet. However, it is important to notice, that the exam requirements for LL.M. students are equivalent to those for J.D. students.

To receive the degree of an LL.M. it is also required to either write a LL.M. thesis of publishable quality. Another option is to write a directed research paper on a specific legal question proposed by a professor or to participate in two seminars, one per semester, that both require a substantial writing assignment (30 - 40 pages). After first considering to do the thesis I am now on my way to participate in the two seminars. This semester it is the trademark law seminar and in the spring I plan to take "law and technology", a seminar dealing with the issue of computers and legal questions.

Well, that should be enough about studying for this time. Let me just quickly add, that we are in total ten international LL.M. students: five from Germany, three from Poland, one from China and one from Bosnia. A pretty diverse group, that provides one with good insights into different approaches to legal problems.

Later, Nils