Name: Michael Kucher
Law School: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen
Where is home? What is it famous for?It is difficult for me to say where is home since I have moved a lot. I am originally from Schorndorf, Germany. Schorndorf is famous for Gottlieb Daimler who was born there. He invented the first modern petrol engine and the first car with such an engine.
You have been working in the Triangle area for the past 3 years as the director of intellectual property for a German based semiconductor company’s U.S. subsidiary. What made you decide to pursue an LLM degree?I wanted to become a licensed lawyer in the U.S. For foreign lawyers who are not from a common law country, the LLM program is the most convenient way to make a key step into this direction. With the LLM degree in hand you can apply for the New York bar exam.
Why did you choose Duke for your LLM?I chose Duke for several reasons: First, it is a fabulous university with an excellent reputation. Second, it is well known for its Intellectual Property expertise. Third, the cost of living is more advantageous in Durham than in most of the regions where the other well known schools are located. And finally, the weather: you are not going to be frozen out of your car when you scroll down the windows during the winter months…
What do you like most about Duke so far?The ease and convenience of campus life and the professionalism and accessibility of the Duke Law School faculty.
What is your plan after graduation? How do you think the LLM will help you with your career?I have not made a final decision yet. However, I most probably will join a patent boutique firm in the U.S. and will take the U.S. patent bar exam sometime soon. I would be responsible for the firm’s European and especially German clients. Additionally, the firm wants me to develop this business.
How is life different for you now as a student versus heading a company department? What do you think is the biggest advantage of going back to school after working for years?It is very different. When I worked at the company I traveled a lot and was responsible for several people. Here, there is no traveling (except for fun) and no supervising. You are responsible only for yourself (although I taught the German class so I was responsible for some activity).
I believe the biggest advantage of going back to school is that you have time to focus on the basics of law again. At work, you “just” apply law which can be and is often very different to what you do in law school. You barely have time to keep up with the newest decisions. To the contrary, in law school you review the basics of law and you go through the statutes and fundamental decisions. You even discuss these statutes and decisions considering, inter alia, policy and doctrinal viewpoints.
What advice will you give to international students studying in American law schools?Know in advance what you want, i.e., which area of law is of interest to you. Stay focused. I would not recommend trying to get an overview of American law. One year is just too short to do so. Instead, studying a specific field of law can even help you in case you write a doctor thesis (or something similar) in your home country.
Most importantly, use the time to make new friends whether in class or at social events. Both LLM and JD students are interesting to talk to. You can learn a lot about other legal, cultural and social systems, the approaches they take in problem solving and how they view your country. And finally ask yourself this question: When will it be the next time in your life that you study (or work) with people from so many different countries so closely together?