Domenik Vogt
2014-2015 Scholar

I would like to thank all the benefactors of the George Spyrou Scholarship for awarding me the Scholarship and thus giving me the opportunity to read for the LLM programme in Cambridge – an incredible experience that has not only broadened my legal knowledge and skills, but also introduced me into a fascinating academic environment with rich historical traditions, a network of extraordinary individuals of the highest calibre and a myriad range of intellectual, social and sporting societies. I am deeply grateful for all your support!

The Programme

At the beginning of the year, students chose 4 courses out of a range of 32 courses. I specialised in Corporate Finance Law, International Commercial Tax, Competition Law and Intellectual Property Law. The courses involved lectures throughout the year and regular workshops, in which we had to prepare answers to previous exam questions and discussed them in small groups with the professors. The lectures were very interesting and consistently helpful to deepen the subject matter covered in the courses. Many professors were really enthusiastic, charismatic and funny and structured their courses very clearly. Thus they were able to convey the contents of the course very well despite the complexity of the materials. The possibility to discuss cases in small student groups enabled me consolidate the knowledge gathered in the lectures and to clear up questions. A very important feature that strongly distinguishes the University of Cambridge from Austrian universities is the extraordinary student-to-professor-ratio. Furthermore, the professors were always ready to answer any questions after the lectures and replied to e-mail queries very quickly.

The courses were assessed by means of exams at the end of the year, which was very unconventional for me, because most of the courses I have had at my home university in Vienna featured several methods of assessment such as class participation, midterm exams, presentations and final exams. As a result, I felt a great deal of pressure towards the end of the year because all the grades entirely depended on the results of the exams. However, this is one of the many situations where the Scholarship had a big impact on my studies since the financial security it provided strongly mitigated the emotional stress.

The College

The George Spyrou Scholarship has introduced me to Christ’s College and in this regard, it has probably had the strongest impact on my whole experience of life in Cambridge. From the first day I arrived in Cambridge, I immediately felt at home in my College. Christ’s College has introduced me into a vibrant community of exceptional students with highly diverse backgrounds, spoiled me with magnificent multi-course dinners and fascinated me with rich historic traditions – it has truly become my home away from home.

One of the most memorable experiences I have had was the Matriculation ceremony in Freshers’ Week, which gave me a first insight into the extraordinary world of Cambridge and Christ’s College in particular. All those great experiences – dressing up in solemn gowns, meeting remarkable students from all over the world and, most importantly, setting your signature next to extraordinary Christ’s alumni like Charles Darwin or John Milton – have filled me with pride to be a part of Christ’s and the University of Cambridge. In particular, I felt very honoured to be seated at the High Table at the Matriculation Dinner next to Dr Hunt, which – as he explained – is a privilege reserved to the Scholars of Christ’s. This was one of the first moments in which I realised the great impact of the George Spyrou Scholarship and the exclusivity attached to it.

The Matriculation ceremony was followed by another very memorable event – the New Scholars’ ceremony on 5 December 2014. This event provided a great opportunity to get to know the undergraduate scholars, who I had not met before. On this day, we assembled outside the Chapel in Christ’s College for a photograph and afterwards we were admitted as new scholars of the College in the course of a very solemn ceremony in the Chapel. This was followed by tea in the Master’s Lodge, which allowed us to meet the Master and Mrs Kelly and learn more about the history of Christ’s. After that, we attended the Commemoration of Benefactors’ Service in the Chapel and in the evening all the scholars were invited to the Commemoration of Benefactors’ Dinner in the hall, during which I witnessed a lovely tradition – the Loving Cup ceremony. A goblet of wine was passed from person to person and everyone drank from it, while the people either side of the drinker stood guard to ‘protect’ the drinker. Finally, at midnight, I was introduced to another very special ritual practiced by all the scholars of Christ’s: dancing around the mulberry tree in the fellows’ garden. Admittedly, it sounded very strange when I first heard about it but I did not want to miss out on this opportunity. So I immediately joined in and it was a spectacular experience. The dance was accompanied by singing, chanting and a lot of laughter by the students and it created a strong bond between everyone who participated. I owe all these great memories to the George Spyrou Scholarship which enabled me to be a part of all these wonderful events, for which I feel very esteemed and honoured.

Last but not least, I was very honoured to finally meet the main donors of the Scholarship and last year’s scholar at the Spyrou Scholarship dinner. We met for pre-drinks in the Master’s garden and had a lovely dinner in the Mountbatten room. I really enjoyed getting to know the family and friends of George Spyrou and learned a lot more about George’s history and the background of the scholarship. Based on the heritage of George Spyrou, an ever-growing network of lawyers has been established. Having become a part of this network in its early beginnings, I feel very appreciated and aim to promote Christ’s College as a first-choice venue for studying law.

Particularly owing to the great international reputation of the University of Cambridge, it was quite easy for me to find a job in the final phase of my studies. After finishing the LLM course in June 2015, I immediately started working in July 2015. I have been working as an associate at the law firm GASSER PARTNER Attorneys at Law, in Vaduz, Liechtenstein, for more than a year now and I am very happy with this job.

As Liechtenstein attracts a great number of international clients, I can use much of the experience and knowledge I gained during my studies in Cambridge on a daily basis. I get involved in a wide range of legal fields such as foundation law, corporate law, M&A, civil law and law of succession, litigation and arbitration, employment law, criminal law and tax law. This allows me to broaden my practical knowledge and skills and provides a great preparation for the bar examination. Finally, GASSER PARTNER attaches great importance to the training of its associates, which is why it enables us to attend (international) conferences and seminars and to get in contact with clients at an early stage of our career.

Shilpi Nanda
2015-2016 Scholar 

What made you apply?

While I was searching for funding opportunities to support my Master of Laws education at the University of Cambridge, I discovered the George Spyrou Scholarship on the university’s website. The scholarship established in the memory of George Spyrou an LLM student at Christ’s College in 1971 is a grant for recognising academic excellence. Consequently, I applied for the scholarship by choosing Christ's College as my first choice in the GRADSAF form. I am grateful to have received the same as it helped in partly funding the international student fees at the University, making my education at Cambridge possible. I gathered a deeper insight of the scholarship at the annual dinner hosted by family and friends of Mr George Spyrou, where I also interacted with the earlier scholars of the prestigious scholarship.

How are you finding it?

The LL.M. programme at the University of Cambridge has been one of the best years in academia so far. The Master of Laws programme being elective, gave me a broad array of modules to select from and the option to specialise in commercial laws. I undertook modules of Corporate Finance, Competition Law, International Commercial Litigation and International Investment Law. The various seminars and workshops organised by the Centre for Corporate and Commercial Law allowed me to learn from and debate with distinguished scholars and practitioners. Furthermore, the multicultural classroom environment provided a platform to interact with talented students from all over the globe, making the discussions in the classes a truly international experience.

Besides academia, my training as a ballet dancer with the Cambridge University Ballet Club helped me keep up a healthy balance amidst my busy schedule. Additionally, the level of support I received from Christ’s College throughout the programme was commendable. Christ's has been home to famous alumni's like Charles Darwin and John Milton and has maintained its old tradition to give the members of the college a proper ‘Cambridge’ experience. The college provides an opportunity to meet inspiring mentors across different fields of study and has provided me with the perfect intellectual setting to pursue my graduate studies.

What do you plan to do next?

After graduating with an LL.M. and having completed five years of BA.LLB (Hons.) in my undergraduate university, I feel ready to enter the commercial hub of London. I intend to use the knowledge gained at the University of Cambridge as a foundation for my career as a commercial solicitor in a top-tier firm in London. I am particularly interested in areas of Competition Law and Mergers and Acquisition, and would want to gain work experience in these departments specifically.