Susi Foerschler knew she would come to the United States to earn an LL.M. soon after she started law school in Germany. “I took a three-semester course in U.S. law taught by American lawyers and professors, and I loved learning about the differences and similarities of the civil and common legal systems,” she recalled. “Based on that, I knew I wanted to get an LL.M.”
Foerschler chose to study law because she wanted an international career. After the two-year practical training period all German attorneys must complete before taking Germany’s Second State Exam for lawyers, which is similar to the U.S. Bar exam, Foerschler accepted a job with DLA Piper, an American firm with offices worldwide, where she practiced real estate law. “I studied and worked for 10 years to set my career on an international track,” she said. “My Vanderbilt LL.M. is my gift to myself for a decade of work that paid off. It was intellectually challenging and fun.
Foerschler particularly enjoyed the comparative perspective her legal studies and experience in Germany added to her classes at Vanderbilt. “I learned new things in every class I took, even in subjects where I had some prior knowledge,” she said. “I really liked learning about the differences in the U.S. legal system and approach to teaching law, why these differences exist, and what that means for an interconnected world. My classes were thought provoking, and I enjoyed wrestling with the topics and materials. It was a lot of work, but it felt more like fun.”
Her favorite class was Professor Mike Newton’s International Law Practice Lab. “It offers a unique opportunity to learn about working in international law while actually doing it at the same time,” she said. “We worked on great projects that had a real impact in the outside world.”
But what really impressed Foerschler most was Vanderbilt’s focus on the student experience. “What stands out are the small classes that allow students to participate and ask questions, taught by approachable, knowledgeable professors who know you are an LL.M. student and are interested in what you bring to the table,” she said.When Foerschler returned to Berlin, she joined a team of attorneys, including her former boss, who are opening a Berlin office for DWF Germany. “I think it will be an exciting experience,” she said, “and I think my LL.M. will definitely have a positive impact on my future career. I found friends for life at Vanderbilt, and I was able to venture into areas of law I had not worked in previously in several classes, including Professor Tim Meyer’s class on Trade Law and Professor Daniel Gervais’ Intellectual Property class.”