I would like to start by asking you to explain your Bachelor programme, since you also studied at Maastricht University?
Correct, I was a European Law School Student just like you. While I began in the English language track, I switched during the second year to the Dutch minor as I already speak Dutch. The minor Rechtsgeleerdheid entails a specific curriculum of courses which grants graduates the civiel effect, the qualification necessary to be admitted to the Dutch Bar Association.
Subsequently, I also studied my Masters in Tax Law at Maastricht University. I chose to follow the International and European Tax Law Masters since I wanted to learn more about tax planning from a corporate and political point of view. Moreover, from a career perspective, there are a lot of opportunities in the Tax Law field. The course load of the LLM will provide you with the necessary knowledge and training to start working in Corporate Tax Law.
“Bigger law firms offer students several ways to get to know the company, including internships, business courses and master classes”
Can you please give a me a profile of the Law firm?
De Brauw is a Dutch law firm headquartered in Amsterdam with branch offices in Brussels, London, New York City, Shanghai and Singapore. The firm has approximately 650 employees of which there are 60 partners and around 300 other qualified lawyers. The main practice areas of De Brauw focus on corporate transactions (e.g. M&A, corporate governance, tax, finance and capital markets) as well as litigations (e.g. EU law, employment, IP, commercial and corporate litigation & arbitration). Our client portfolio is diverse, including (Dutch) multinationals as well as advising smaller tech start-ups (on a pro-bono basis).
What is your position in this firm?
I currently follow the internal traineeship programme which covers practice groups, corporate transactions and litigation. The first two years I worked as a corporate lawyer. Since half a year I work in arbitration.
Can you further explain about the traineeship program?
We do have two traineeship programmes. The first one, the Brauwerij, is for students with a Dutch degree, thus students having the civiel effect. The second programme, the Brewery, is for graduates or foreign lawyers who do not have the civiel effect. Consequently, this traineeship might be specifically interesting for ELS English track graduates.
How did you manage to get to this position?
Bigger law firms, such as De Brauw, offer students several ways to get to know the company, this includes internships, business courses and master classes. During my third year of the LLB program, I participated in one of De Brauw’s business courses in Berlin. I really liked the supervision during this course and I became curious to learn about the firm and the work they do. Fortunately, they offered me an internship for two months in Amsterdam. Subsequently, I returned to Maastricht to start my LLM. During that final year of my study I kept in touch with De Brauw’s recruiters and individual lawyers of the firm. My contacts and experiences that I made during my business course and internships proved to be very valuable in the application process, as we were already familiar with each other.
How can you describe your application interview phrases for your position at De Brauw?
I had four interviews with four different partners. Each one of them takes approximately one hour. Next to the interviews there were two assessment centers testing my analytical skills.
Can you tell more about the internal affairs of De Brauw?
Even though De Brauw is a Dutch law firm, the client base, as well as the working environment, are very international. The growing number of people working here have an international background, including, but not limited to, Australians, Koreans, Chinese, Canadians, South Africans, Romanians and Finnish. In arbitration you have a minority of colleagues with a Dutch background. Although, the firm encourages internationals colleagues to learn Dutch to stimulate integration, it is not a prerequisite for their career development within the firm. After all, the majority of the work is executed in English (e.g. drafting of documents, communication with clients, etc.).
How is the environment in De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, did it satisfy your expectations or was it intimidating?
Concerning the work content, I believe most of the big law firms are very similar. An essential difference is the people you work with. At De Brauw, I immediately had a ‘click’ with my colleagues. The firm contributes to creating a good atmosphere by having weekly drinks, parties, sports activities and more. Naturally, the work(ing hours) can be demanding, but here I have the opportunity to work together with a great team from which I can learn a lot.
Do you have any advice or suggestions for future lawyers in our university?
When I was a European Law School Student, I was sometimes worried what I would be doing in my future. Maastricht may seem isolated from the rest of the world in a geographical. My advice is to you be confident! The ELS programme provides you with strong analytical skills you can put anywhere to the test. Fellow graduates nowadays work for law firms, consultancies, EU institutions, in the academic world or in completely other fields. Just be open and look for opportunities to get in touch with firms, to experience different work environments and to find your own ‘click’.
Written by Dilara Sancar