From Syria to Studying at Freie Universität Berlin
Ehab Shamah studied at Freie Universität Berlin in a master’s degree program in international competition law – and already started a job before completing his degree.
Mar 29, 2017
After graduating with a Master of Law degree from a university in Beirut, Lebanon, in February 2013, Ehab Shamah immediately moved back home to Damascus in Syria. As the civil war continued, Shamah decided to leave Syria, even though he was not yet personally affected by the war. “I wanted to extend my professional experience in Europe,” says Shamah. When searching for degree programs, he finally found a suitable program at Freie Universität Berlin: The English-taught post-graduate Master of European and International Business, Competition and Regulatory Law. This combination was ideal for him, as he had already acquired legal skills through his studies and work experience.
Getting a Foothold in Europe through the Master’s Program
Ehab Shamah applied and was accepted. With the letter of acceptance, he was then able to apply for a student visa and travel to Germany. He had graduated two years before in Beirut, and the internationally oriented program at Freie Universität helped him to get a foothold in Europe. The lecturers in the program come from a variety of different European countries, and the students from all over the world. “There’s a special atmosphere here,” says Shamah. “It was literally surprising for me how friendly the environment was and how well I got integrated into this program and with the people.”
All-rounders in Syria, Specialists in Germany
Ehab Shamah brought ample legal experience from Syria and Lebanon to the program: He had been working for the biggest Syrian law firm “Sarkis & Associates” in Damascus for almost eight years – at times even while still studying in Lebanon. For a while, he commuted back and forth between Damascus and Beirut twice a week. In the Syrian capital he advised clients and represented them in court.
He had no trouble adapting to the German legal system. One thing was unusual for him, though: “In Germany members of the legal profession are even more specialized, sometimes in miniscule niches of law.” In Syria, it is customary for lawyers to cover complex areas of law. “We have more all-rounders,” he says. His studies in Berlin helped him with his own specialization in business law. He especially appreciated so-called “moot courts,” simulated court proceedings. The students represent a fictitious party in litigation – this helps develop the practical skills required of a lawyer.
Ehab Shamah recently celebrated his graduation with the other graduates of his class at the “Clubhaus” of Freie Universität Berlin. Altogether 31 students from 25 nations participated in the Master of Business, Competition and Regulatory Law program at Freie Universität Berlin from October 2015 until September 2016. “You chose to study international competition law in times when rising priority is being given to national interests,” said the Academic Director of the program, Professor Heike Schweitzer, in his graduation address at the ceremony. The Dean of Students of the Department of Law, Professor Andreas Fijal added, “You all have a great future ahead of you, but you also bear a great responsibility for this great future.”
Shamah has concrete plans for his future: He already worked for a German-Spanish law firm in Berlin and is now working for Deutsche Bank, the biggest German bank. “I want to establish my professional basis here – it has long been my dream to work in Germany.”