Message from Mira Scholten, LLM track program director

Dear students,

As the programme director for the LLM track of this master, I would like to thank you all for this amazing year of studies! It has been our pleasure of having you in our master programme! We have been also very happy to share this wonderful, joyful graduation day with you!

For making this blog page possible, I would like to thank all its contributors and especially the editors and organizers: Annabel, Maurits, Jorge, and Riva.

I wish you good luck with the next steps of your careers!

In light of my final address to you today, always remember:
1) See the good in everything that is happening to you and go for it, follow your dream!
2) Imagine and do!
3) Be the best in what you can and love to do!

Stay in touch, also via our LinkedIn alumni group!

With the best wishes, on behalf of the teaching staff,

Mira

Graduation ceremony!

On Tuesday August 27, the long-awaited day had finally come: our graduation ceremony!

Since we as students have worked hard this academic year to obtain our Master’s degree in Law and Economics, we were all excited to receive our diploma on this warm (33 degrees Celsius!) day.
The graduation ceremony for the LLM track was held in the beautiful Academiegebouw of Utrecht University. Since this building dates from the 15th Century and played a key role in many historical events, it was very special to receive our LLM degree in this historical building.
Moreover, our parents, friends, significant others, teachers and thesis supervisors had come to attend the ceremony, which created the perfect setting to receive our diploma.

Mira Scholten, the director of the Master programme, held a great speech to open the ceremony. Afterwards, each student was individually called to the stage and addressed by his/her thesis supervisor, which included Thibault Schrepel, Jasper Sluijs, Jotte Mulder and Matteo Gargantini. The speeches by the supervisors were diverse, funny, entertaining and moving. After each speech, students signed their Master’s degree and were congratulated by the teachers and all other attendees. Mira closed the ceremony with some beautiful final remarks, and then it was time to celebrate with drinks!

I really enjoyed this academic year with all my fellow students, teachers, family and friends, and it definitely feels bittersweet to say goodbye to this Master programme. However, as pointed out by Mira, it’s not a goodbye, but a see you soon!

– Maurits

Future prospects

Hi!

Now that our theses have been handed in and the academic year has come to an end, I thought it would be good to give a brief recap of the past few months and discuss the coming months as well.

All Law & Economics students spent the last block of the academic year working on their final project: their thesis. I thoroughly enjoyed working on my thesis, and I am sure (most of) my fellow students did as well, but I think all of us were glad when the summer holidays arrived. We spent the last two months relaxing, enjoying summer in the Netherlands and being on holiday abroad. In addition, we have been busy preparing our next steps. After all, since the Law & Economics Master’s degree forms the final academic step in most of our careers, we have to start thinking about what to do afterwards!

I myself have decided to pursue a career as a lawyer. Therefore, I will commence training at a law firm in Amsterdam in September. Consequently, I have been occupied with moving to Amsterdam and settling in a new house, city and environment. As for my fellow students, several of them have decided to follow a similar path. However, some are training to become a lawyer in the Netherlands or abroad, or in a private law firm or a government entity. Furthermore, some students have begun working in different positions in law firms, government entities and private entities. Most notably, some of my students have been offered positions in competition authorities in the Netherlands, the U.K. and several Latin-American countries!

Looking back at the last academic year, I can conclude that the Law & Economics Master programme provides us with an excellent substantive preparation for our future careers. Whether we decide to work in a law firm, government entity or any other sector, we are well prepared for the tasks at hand by the teachers and courses of the Master programme. Furthermore, we are given many opportunities to already interact with our future employers during the Master, which helps with choosing a career path. I am very happy that I decided to pursue this Master programme and although I will miss my teachers, courses and fellow students, I am very excited for my future steps and the future steps of the other students!

– Maurits

From essay to blog

Throughout our formative years we have been taught to write essays: from high school to university, essay-writing has formed a pivotal instrument to assess our knowledge and comprehension on a certain subject.

In essays we generally struggle with word limits, since a certain threshold needs to be met. Usually, the struggle consists of reaching the threshold rather than overshooting it. However, sometimes the word limit may form a restriction and it is challenging to limit our ideas to the imposed amount of words. In the latter case, you usually start cutting the introduction section of your paper, and if that doesn’t do the job, then you maybe shorten the substantive parts of the essay.

In the Master Law & Economics, we have also had to write essays for various courses. The word limit usually varied between 3,000 and 6,000 words (it could change for you, don’t get your hopes up). However, during Block 3, I enrolled in a caput select course which required me not only to write an essay, but also a blog post (and if the post was good enough, it could be published online).

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In that course, I learnt that writing a blog post is a completely different animal because it entails an exercise of concise and sharp reasoning. Blog posts are meant to be short (around 700 words) and to the point, so you have to identify your key arguments and put them in the clearest way possible so anyone can understand your message (even laymen in law).

Thus, if I had struggled with the word limit on essays, working on a blogpost was twice as challenging. However, this wasn’t an impossible task. Here are some tips given by our professor and some L&E alumni that were invited to talk about their experiences, which I found really helpful:

  • Start writing after having an essay draft: You’ll have a better understanding of the topic because you would’ve done the research and, most importantly, you’ll have your key arguments outlined.
  • Use plain language: your readers will not only be law students or lawyers, but also members of the general public. Avoid using complex sentences or long paragraphs. There are useful online tools to see how understandable your text is, such as this one.
  • Use hyperlinks: they are really useful to give references to the reader in an easy and interactive way (e.g. news, reports, papers, among others).
  • Use visual aids: from graphs and pictures, to bullet points and charts, they are helpful to give a better understanding to the reader.

Writing the post was an enriching experience because it helped me to be concise (as you know, sometimes less is better) by allowing me to identify which arguments needed to be highlighted and which parts were rather supportive and could be shortened (or even eliminated). Further, before entering into the Master Law & Economics. I wrote a couple of blogposts myself that could have been better if I’d have had the knowledge I gained after the course.

So now you know, write and enjoy.

Jorge

Thesis!

During the last period of the academic year, period 4, we write our magnum opus of the Master’s program – the thesis!

Despite the fact that writing occurs in period 4, this does not mean that we have not worked on our thesis during the rest of the academic year. As a matter of fact, the Master’s program provides an excellent trajectory throughout the year, in which we think about and work on our thesis.

Starting in early October, lectures are held on a variety of topics in relation to the writing process. For example, we were informed about writing the thesis proposal and the thesis itself, and the methodology and do’s and don’ts in a thesis. From October to January, we met in groups with a supervisor to discuss our ideas for topics and our proposals. In January, the draft thesis proposal is due and a thesis supervisor is assigned to you personally. The deadline for the final thesis proposal is in March.

While we were encouraged to work on our thesis already during the capita selecta in period 3, there is ample time to write the thesis itself in period 4. We are given a lot of freedom in designing our thesis process and writing the thesis. I decided to arrange the interviews for my thesis in period 3, so that I could start doing the interviews at the beginning of period 4 already. Moreover, I agreed with my supervisor on specific progress meetings, chapter deadlines and feedback moments. However, other students and supervisors take a much more flexible approach and have meetings or hand in chapters whenever necessary.

I am thoroughly enjoying writing my thesis and look forward to sharing the final product with you via this blog!

– Maurits

Summer courses at UU

Are you interested in European competition law? Would you like to spend a week together with like-minded students in the idyllic city of Utrecht?

This summer, July 8-12th, Utrecht University will host an annual summer course ‘European Competition Law and Economics: Cartels and Other Evils’.

The course is tailored to anyone interested in cartels prohibition in the EU. The course is unique as it combines legal and economic perspectives that underpin competition policy in the EU. The programme features top-notch professionals from both legal and economic practice, including Dentons Boekel law firm and European Economic & Marketing Consultants.

The course will cover foundational legal knowledge in relation to cartel prohibition under Art.101 TFEU; introduction to economic theories that embed European competition policy; digital economy challenges; practical exercises aimed to stimulate skills necessary to succeed in the dynamic European competition law field.

Registrations are now open! For more information, see: https://www.utrechtsummerschool.nl/courses/law-economics/european-competition-law-and-economics-cartels-and-other-evils.’

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Capita Selecta

In our masters program Law and Economics, this semester was a change from our usual schedule. Instead of having the normal nine-week semester as one period with three courses (the standard here at UU), our semester was broken up into three smaller blocks, and in each one, we took one or two smaller, more intense and specific classes, called Capita’s.

Out of 11 available choices, each student picked five. In the first block of three weeks we took one class, and in each of the second and third blocks, we took two classes (1-2-2). For my five classes, I chose to learn about:

  • Economic and Monetary Union;
  • Competition and Regulation Within the Authority;
  • Blockchain and Financial Markets;
  • Enforcement by EU Agencies; and
  • Public and Private Enforcement of Financial Law.

When it came time to choose our Capitas, I was frustrated because they all sounded so interesting and relevant. I wanted to do all! In the end, I chose based on how I thought the Capitas would help me with the research for my thesis. Here’s what we did in each class:

Classes

Economic and Monetary Union:

This class focused on the pillars of the EU’s economic and monetary union, which are financial union (improving the rules for the financial sector), fiscal union (improving coordination of rules around national budgets, including sovereign debt and budget deficits), economic union (enhancing macro-economic policy coordination), and political union (improving dialogue in the processes of making and implementing EU rules). We wrote a research paper on one of the pillars.

Competition and Regulation Within the Authority:

This class involved working alongside the Dutch competition authority, Authority for Consumers and Markets (Autoriteit Consument en Markt; ACM), on an assigned policy area or question requested by a staff member of the ACM. My group completed our project on excessive pharmaceuticals prices in the Netherlands.

Blockchain and Financial Markets:

This class taught us about Blockchain technology, and how the finance industry can use it to improve financial services. We also learned how to consider privacy protection laws when dealing with Blockchain, as the most common type of Blockchain (Bitcoin) was made in a way that can conflict with these.

Enforcement by EU Agencies:

This class had an intense research project on an EU agency of our choice, and its enforcement strategy, looking at the agency’s successes, and possible improvements. My group studied how the European Banking Authority’s (EBA) enforces anti-money laundering rules. By the end of the three-week block, we found that the EBA doesn’t have enough enforcement power to be considered ‘strong,’ but also that so far, the EBA might not need strong enforcement power.

Public and Private Enforcement of Financial Law:

This class focused on learning about different types of enforcement used in the finance industry. We learned the pros and cons of using private enforcement, versus administrative enforcement, versus criminal enforcement, and talked about the biggest problem supervisors face: information (who knows about crime), and incentives (how to get them to share their information). At the end, we discussed whether, and how, sanctions like fines could make enforcement better in different situations, and in groups, made a short video discussing some of the above problems in a way we chose.

Thoughts on the Courses

My favourite courses were the ACM course and Enforcement by EU Agencies. These capita’s were very hands-on and we got a lot of discretionary room. Moreover, I could really use these capita’s as a basis for writing my thesis. I’d really give this as a tip for the future students. This is the time to get a lot of information already for your thesis, take advantage of that!

The ACM course, Competition and Regulation Within the Authority, was very different than any other course. On day one, we went to the ACM in Den Haag to hear about our topic from our ‘client’ staff member, and to learn more about the ACM itself. This made the course a really cool opportunity to learn from and network with ACM staff, and now I think I might want to work there someday. The staff member guided us through making our project/paper, and the final presentation gave us a chance show the entire class what we’d worked so hard on. I’m really proud of what my group accomplished here.

Enforcement by EU Agencies was similar for me. We didn’t get to actually go to agencies, but the professor helped us focus our research by having us give weekly presentations on our topic to the class. We also wrote a paper and a blog post for this class, and writing a blog post after the first paper draft, but before the final was due, helped us really figure out what was most important. I am super proud of the work we did in this class too.

The other courses I chose were very interesting, but as they did not fit as perfectly with my thesis topic. Therefore, I benefitted more from the other courses. I never thought, however, you’d know so much about one subject in three weeks. That’s why all subjects really surprised me and although they were intensive, I enjoyed them a lot.

Also, the different teaching styles were very fun. For example, in the caput ‘Public and Private Enforcement of Financial Law’ we had to make a video about a subject. I had never done this before, but it was an entertaining way to really master the subject.

Final Thoughts

Overall, these Capitas were really interesting and really valuable. On the other hand, mastering a subject in three weeks can be hard!

Even so, I am still really thankful I got to do these courses and to learn so much, but I will say this to next year’s students: when it comes to the Capitas, be careful with your time management!

– Riva

 

Last lecture together

As we are all very busy with the first stages of our thesis, we had a class on the process of thesis-writing and methodology from our very own Mira Scholten. When class started, we realised that this was the last time we would all be together as a whole Law & Economics class. We all still have one week left of our capita selecta courses (short intense 3-week courses on a specific subject), but those are in smaller groups.

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Funny thing was fate would have wanted it that way, because this lecture was scheduled in the very same room where we had out introductory lecture in the first week of our master. For now, we must finish the last assignments of the capita’s. After that, time has come to really and actually start working on our thesis. There are no more excuses: let’s do it!

sdr

– Annabel

Clear writing tips

We have just handed in our thesis proposals. While writing it, we came across an interesting and helpful document from the European Commission on writing clearly. It can be found here.

It is especially handy to check whether you have not used unnecessary words or sentences and if you are really writing what you mean. A lot of times us lawyers-to-be tend to write in long sentences with complicated structures. This document helps you identify this  problem and overcome it. It is much easier for a person who has not written the article or, in this case, thesis to read short sentences.

– Annabel