Sibylle Rost LL.M. ’19

Hybrid Option LL.M., Class of 2019

I always wanted to get an LL.M. But right after law school, I didn’t have the money, and then I had children, plus I was looking for employment. I always wanted to get my LL.M. here at Berkeley Law, because it is one of the best law schools. So I was really excited when I saw the hybrid option. For me, it was  the only possibility because longer than three months away from home would not have worked. So I applied.

My 7-year-old cried when I got the admission and said, “I don’t want you to go.” The 4-year-old and the 7-year-old both clung to my leg when I was on the way to the plane. So, leaving was really hard.

How did [the online courses] fit in my everyday? Somehow they did. [Professor Bill Fernholz] did live lectures and office hours every week, as well as occasional skill sessions. Students attended the office hours just to keep in touch, or to have something clarified. After work I had to pick up my kids and race home to be in time for the live sessions. My kids often came into my little office, in need of immediate attention. But mostly I could follow along just fine. [Professor Fernholz] wanted us to succeed. He wanted us to understand. And I see now how the classes fit into each other. I can see that what I learned in his class was not only Fundamentals of U.S. Law, but also fundamentals of case law and the IRAC system. My experience is that you really learn how to talk about the law, how to find a solution in case law, the system and logic.

It is good to be here [for an on-campus summer semester]. If you want to have a degree from a  good law school, you want the experience at that law school in residence as well. It is nice to meet in person the people you already spent some time with on the screen. You get impressions about their home country, their culture and their background. I enjoy that. Besides studies, there is often some other fun stuff going on.

We are 34 hybrid option students. It is a more or less close-knit group. We are the second round of hybrid students, so we are kind of like pioneers. What I like about the LL.M program in Berkeley is that the professors and the staff from ADP are really nice and everybody tries to take good care of us. We only get a few weeks to learn what they normally teach over a semester, so it’s really intense. They make sure that we are feeling well, that we can follow along, that we get it.

[Being back in school] is interesting, but it is totally different than the first time. It is not like you are fresh from high school and open-minded and eager to see what life can give you—because you already have a part of it. It is a different mindset, you have other responsibilities. This time I rarely skip a class because it is such a short amount of time to succeed.

Just go for it, and take it seriously. You have to work for it. But sure, you are also supposed to have fun and enjoy your stay. It depends on each person, how they want to use it. If it is just an excuse to spend a summer in California, okay—but that would be a really expensive experience! Be open to the people around you, take advantage of the fact that everybody is supportive.