Tarek Sarhan’s first visit to Portugal was not his last. The University of Minho (UMinho) graduate from Syria recalls falling in love with the city of Braga back in 2013 as an Erasmus exchange student. “Before heading to Portugal I heard a lot about its relaxing and attractive weather, environment, and the hospitality of the Portuguese locals. I simply found that to be true,” he says.
So he returned to pursue the LL.M. in European and Transglobal Business Law at the School of Law, graduating in 2019. He recalls the quiet charm of the school, citing its large, well-equipped classrooms and relaxing, all-you-need library. “It was a great experience on the academic, social, and cultural levels. I truly enjoyed my days in Braga; I met a lot of friends from all over the world and made great memories,” he says.
Sarhan also credits his enjoyable experience to the support of faculty staff and administrators. Turkish student Elif Birgi concurs, saying her decision to enrol in the LL.M. was one of her smartest choices so far. Coming from an International Relations background, she had her doubts about getting into law school — but they were eased at every step of her journey.
“The administration and course coordinator showed how open-minded and modernised their way of teaching is,” she testifies. “Due to their dedication and care, I chose the University of Minho over the other options I had.”
Level up with a modern, multifaceted LL.M.
As far as a young university goes — it was founded in 1973 — UMinho is well-reputed globally. It also has one of the best-ranked law schools in the country. The School of Law offers one postgraduate course in English and nine other master’s programmes that train students across critical areas of the legal profession.
International in design, the programme is taught by professors from the US, India, Portugal, and Brazil, among others. The combination of their experience in the academic and corporate worlds deliver well-rounded perspectives to eager students, which Sarhan found incredibly beneficial to his learning. “We were able to touch on real and practical cases either on the national level of certain jurisdictions or at the European or international level. It was always interesting to interact with current cases and follow up on the investigations and the court’s decisions,” he shares.
Birgi praises the open learning culture, adding, “Throughout the course year I was given the opportunity to meet law professionals from different countries with whom I could have debates on the impact of culture and religion on law and law enforcement. As a student of a programme focused on business law, my professors were 100% onboard and supportive when I demonstrated my interest to write on a different branch of law for my dissertation.”
Through the master’s programme, students gain a solid grasp of law theory and practice, which informs their future defending, strategising, and policy-making. UMinho is strategically situated to tackle law in Europe and emerging economies through the lens of Portugal’s vast historic and cultural ties. Alternative courses allow students to dive deeper into the practice of specific countries and regions.
Tilmar Goos from Germany comments, “I especially liked the focus on international taxes and legal aspects of investment in Portuguese-speaking African countries.” Sarhan adds, “In addition to the regular job fairs that were taking place at the School of Law, there were several seminars on different legal topics, both locally and internationally. It was always great to attend such seminars to keep up-to-date with new legal features and also a great opportunity for networking.”
An enriching experience awaits at the University of Minho
Like Sarhan, Birgi had her mind set on law school in Portugal when she found UMinho. Looking back, she appreciates that the programme deviated from the one-size-fits-all method. “All the courses and seminars given within the LL.M. programme were not only designed to give me a solid knowledge on the business law at a global level (taught by professors from different jurisdictions) but allowed me to shape my studies in accordance with my specific needs and interests,” she says.
All three graduates agree that their time at UMinho was instrumental towards their career trajectory — and that they made a lifetime of memories in Braga. Birgi cites connectivity, affordability, and livability as the city’s main drawing points. Goos adds, “Studying in Braga is the right choice. In big cities, you meet many people. In small cities, you make friends for life.”
Today, Sarhan is a tax and income account manager at the BNP Paribas Securities Services. Birgi is in the PwC Portugal Forensic Services team, tackling anti-money laundering and terrorism counter-financing. “At the theoretical level, by allowing me to choose the area I would like to focus on for my master thesis, the School of Law helped start my career focused on detection and prevention of financial crime. Now I consider myself a competent professional in my area, with solid law knowledge thanks to the teaching methods at the School of Law.”
Master’s holders can also take the next step in their academic journey with a PhD in Legal Sciences, where they will develop research capabilities to practice or teach. The programme is divided into three main areas of expertise: Private Legal Sciences, Public Legal Sciences and General Legal Sciences. PhD candidates will also benefit from the Research Centre for Justice and Governance (JusGov), which engages in international research networks. Here, students can get involved in policy-relevant research and sharpen their legal expertise for esteemed careers ahead.
Unleash your full potential with a postgraduate law degree from the University of Minho. Visit the official website to find out more. Scholarships and discounts are available.