From studying EU law to negotiating new EU legislation

Published on 12 December 2022

Securing a PhD was not Bérénice Lemoine’s original plan, but time spent studying for an LLM at the University of Dundee changed the course of her life

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The decision to undertake a PhD would lead to Bérénice overseeing the development of an area of European Union (EU) law she first started studying at Dundee.

Her PhD journey has seen her transition from a researcher considering the impact of EU rules to an EU civil servant responsible for negotiating new regulations in Brussels.

Dundee Law School has been central to Bérénice’s success. In 2013 she was one of the first groups of students to enroll on the University’s innovative Dual Award LLM in Comparative and European Private International Law, undertaken in conjunction with the University of Toulouse in France.

After graduating with Distinction, she undertook internships at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law in London and law firm Cremades and Calvo Sotelo Abodagos in Madrid, before securing a full scholarship to undertake her PhD at the University in 2014 under the supervision of Aude Fiorini and Professor Peter McEleavy.

“I never thought I would be where I am now,” said Bérénice. “During my LLM I had a module on international family law and found it incredibly interesting. I chose to centre my dissertation around that topic and was later encouraged by my lecturers to follow this passion and continue the research.

“That LLM year was key to what came after. A PhD wasn’t my initial plan, and without that I would never have arrived at the place I am at now.”

In the early years of her PhD Bérénice tutored in Public Law and the English Law of Tort, as well as giving advanced seminars in Private International Law courses.

To gain greater insights as she analysed the EU family law regulations for her doctoral research, Bérénice secured a traineeship with the Council of the European Union in Brussels in 2017. This was so successful she was retained as a contractual agent, and then subsequently passed the EU competition to become a permanent EU civil servant, one of 150 appointees out of 27,000 candidates.

For the last five years Bérénice has been negotiating EU regulations in European private international law by day and completing her doctoral thesis by night. That huge effort paid off, with her doctoral thesis recently being accepted by her examiners.

“It has been a challenging but incredible journey,” Bérénice continued. “I came to Brussels truly thinking I would only be here for the duration of the traineeship, but I’ve never left. It all comes back to my LLM days at Dundee, where I found passion in this area and was encouraged to pursue it. Without that encouragement I might never have gone on to PhD study, and without that I would not have ended up applying for the traineeship.

“I could not have done it without the support of the University and its wonderful staff. A student-centred experience is a primary concept at Dundee, and I saw that especially when I was teaching. I will keep good memories from my time at Dundee.”

Bérénice’s PhD supervisor Aude Fiorini added, “Dundee Law School has a real strength in private international law, particularly from a comparative perspective, as reflected in our dual award LLM in Comparative and European Private International Law.

“We encourage our students to adopt a practical approach to the study and application of law and it is so rewarding to see one of our best postgraduate students transition to become responsible for the negotiation of instruments she began studying and researching in Dundee."


Jessica Rorke

Media Relations Officer

+44 (0)1382 388878