LLM degree distinguishes alumnus in Danish business community
Sebastian Lysholm Nielsen, ’10, was honored by Danish newspaper Berlingske in its Talent 100 list last year. The newspaper selects young Danish leaders in a variety of professions, who have the will and ability to reach the very top of Denmark’s business community.
Nielsen specifically attributes the honor to his studies at University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law.
“I am sure that my LLM degree from McGeorge had great significance in the decision. It gave me a broad international background, which is of course really important in this connected world,” Nielsen reflected.
Nielsen applies this international background in his position as a director (which is the functional equivalent of a junior partner) at Lundgrens, one of the top law firms in Denmark. The majority of the firm’s clients are companies. Nielsen and his colleagues predominantly handle cases involving business transactions and corporate law.
Nielsen works in the Litigation and Arbitration Department and enjoys the challenge of dispute resolution.
“I see our mission as preventing the escalation of conflict. If we cannot find a solution together by negotiating, then we will have a decision made by the court,” Nielsen said. “That is the most peaceful way to solve disputes.”
In practice, Nielsen regularly uses the lessons that he learned at McGeorge. “The courses at McGeorge did not teach just another theory. They were applicable in practice. What you learned one day could be used immediately the next day,” he said.
When Nielsen started studying at McGeorge, he did not initially intend on taking an American bar exam. He became interested when some of his friends in the JD program began studying for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE), a prerequisite to sitting for the bar exam.
Nielsen decided to study with his friends and sit for the MPRE, just to see if he could pass. He was pleasantly surprised with his results. After graduating, Nielsen sat for the New York Bar Exam and passed — on his first try.
When Nielsen applied to Lundgrens, his future boss was so impressed with his education and willingness to sit for the bar that he was hired immediately.
In Denmark, Nielsen is licensed to practice before trial courts. He has also passed additional exams, beyond his degrees, that qualifies him to appear before appellate courts.
“In order to become a good attorney, it is important to understand legal cultures in other countries. This is why I encourage students in our office to study abroad,” Nielsen said.
Nielsen’s path to McGeorge School of Law began with a keen interest in studying abroad. His mother studied abroad in America and strongly recommended spending time in California. Of all the LLM programs in California, Nielsen was drawn to McGeorge.
“I talked with a lot of alumni, and I got this great impression of McGeorge,” he said.
When he began studying at McGeorge, Nielsen found that the school exceeded his expectations. He describes it as “the best year of school,” due primarily to the atmosphere on campus.
“The campus is unlike what we have in Demark or Europe,” Nielsen remarked. “We are not connected like you are at McGeorge. The campus was a nice place to meet with friends and professors. It makes you want to learn and study even more because you get so much stimulation from classmates and professors.”
Nielsen enjoyed living in McGeorge’s on-campus housing and being close to the school’s amenities, like studying in the library and playing tennis on the courts.
In the classroom, Nielsen found courses like International Business Transactions and American Sale of Goods most helpful.
“I liked that the classes were not too big, so you had the opportunity to ask a lot of questions,” Nielsen said.
With Nielsen’s background in the Danish civil law system, courses like the Legal Process helped him to understand common law.
“I will often have clients with connections to the United States or to a country with a common law system,” Nielsen said. “I am privileged because I know how to find and use the applicable law. It distinguishes me from my colleagues.”
As a graduate, Nielsen stays connected with other international students that he met at McGeorge.
“On a personal level, you make friends from all over the world. The connections you make in the LLM program are well worth it.”
Nielsen and friends he made at McGeorge attend the school's international alumni reunion every two years. He plans to attend the reunion in Prague this summer.
Nielsen also keeps in touch with former classmates professionally. “It's great when you have a client who needs an attorney in a different country, and you know other alumni that you can recommend,” he said.
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