Sibylle Gierschmann LLM ’99

June 17, 2008Duke Law News

June 17, 2008 — Duke Law School’s growing international alumni now represent nearly 10 percent of all the school’s graduates. Securing bonds and networking opportunities among these alumni is a task Sibylle Gierschmann LLM ’99 takes seriously.

Although her home is in Germany, the distance does not interfere with Gierschmann’s strong ties to the Law School. Dean Jennifer Maher describes her as “energetic and professional,” and a powerful force in keeping global alumni involved with Duke Law.

Gierschmann’s commitment is evident through her work with various alumni programs and activities, including her assistance this year in organizing Duke Law’s International Conference and Alumni Reunion in Munich, Germany, June 19-22, 2008. The event will highlight and celebrate the increasingly international nature of Duke Law and the legal profession, and will give alumni the opportunity to enjoy panel discussions led by members of the Law School faculty. The weekend also includes a number of social events, many planned around the history and culture of Munich.

Gierschmann has been involved with the Duke Alumni Association since she completed her LLM nine years ago and is co-president of the Duke Club of Germany and of the German Alumni Association. “Naturally the alumni base in Europe is much smaller than the one in the United States,” she says. “Whenever people hear about the club they are so enthusiastic and willing to support the idea that I am really overwhelmed.”

Through her alumni association work, Gierschmann is able to meet new alums and help facilitate professional networking opportunities. “I like to get involved in the alumni network because this is something I can give back to Duke,” she says. She helped organize an international law golf tournament and established a foundation allowing European alumni to make donations to the Law School while receiving tax benefits, something that was not possible in the past. She also recruits talented potential German students to the Law School’s LLM program.

Prior to attending Duke Law, Gierschmann studied law at the University of Hamburg, where she sat for the state legal exams in 1994. She wrote her doctoral thesis on European Commission antitrust law.

Gierschmann came to Duke to be part of its renowned LLM program, which exposes foreign law graduates to the American legal system while providing the opportunity to take advanced classes in specialized areas of the law. “Not only did I learn a lot academically, I also broadened my horizons towards other ideas and cultures, which now benefits me in my business, too,” she says.

Now a partner with the Munich law firm Taylor Wessing, which represents media and IT clients, Geirschmann’s practice focuses mainly on copyright law, distribution law, and e-commerce. She also writes a column on data protection for silicon.de, a technology and business news source, in addition to publishing regularly in legal journals.

The upcoming International Conference and Alumni Reunion is an opportunity for Gierschmann and her fellow international graduates to share professional accomplishments with one another and renew ties to Duke Law — an opportunity that Gierschamnn relishes.

“We are very proud this is going to take place in Munich,” she says. “The reward really is that I am very much looking forward to meeting everyone here in Munich and enjoying a spectacular program.” - C.H.
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