Especially Maastricht is well known for its location between three different countries. Given this geographical location, it is only logical that situations arise that concern various nationals. Especially in the area of law, multiple factors complicate these matters as there may not only be a language and culture barrier, but furthermore questions regarding different legal systems arise.
Lexquire LLP is a corporate law firm with locations in both Germany and the Netherlands and deals mainly with cross-boarder situations. In order to get an insight in these situations, Christina Roo, a German lawyer at Lexquire, agreed to answer a few questions not only regarding her exciting every-day activities at Lexquire, but also will give at least some information regarding the qualifications, future lawyers should provide, if they aim at working in an international law firm.
Q: Christina, what is your personal legal background, and why did you decide to work in an international setting?
A: I was born in today’s Russia, where I lived until I was ten years old. As my father is German, we later moved to Germany, and lived close to the Dutch boarder. During my studies in Cologne, where I later absolved both my State Exams, I completed internships abroad and focused on improving both my language and international experience.
After my graduation, Lexquire approached me and offered me a position as lawyer, allowing me to create a new German department. As I always wanted to work in an international setting, I gladly accepted the job offer. Today I am already working for over four years at Lexquire.
Q: What is it like to work at Lexquire LLP?
A: Lexquire is a medium-sized law firm that primarily consults companies regarding cross-boarder activities. This of course involves a variety of every-day issues, as working in different countries involves not only a confrontation with new languages, but also with sometimes unexpected aspects of foreign cultures. In addition I was building up my own department, which also entailed certain challenges.
The most distinctive difference however is the influence of international civil law. An area which, in my opinion, is not taught broad enough at German universities. Especially in fields like company law or family and labour law, this holds challenging aspects.
Nevertheless, the work in an international setting provides with exciting and refreshing tasks every day, if one is up to accept the included challenges.
Q: Are there many differences between German and Dutch law?
A:Especially when it comes to contract law, German and Dutch law are rather similar, which is also due to EU legislative.
Nevertheless, it would be a huge mistake to equate the two jurisdictions, as especially seemingly small differences can result in varied results. This is also due to the discretion given to national judges. Competent lawyers should thus be able to draw up these minor differences in order to provide best solutions.
It is in these moments, where the advantages of international firms occur. Who would know better about Dutch law, than the Dutch lawyer sitting in the office next to yours. Cooperation between specialists of different fields is especially important in an international cross-boarder-setting.
Q: What should future lawyers provide for, it they want to work in these settings?
A: Starting to work as a freshly graduated student comes with many challenges. It is on the graduate to blend in to the every-day-routine of a chamber. Especially autonomy is important. Not only is there very much to learn, but also is it on the graduate too implement his theoretical knowledge into practice.
In stressful periods, experienced lawyers may not have the time to support new lawyers continuously, whereas they have to work independent. Nobody expects them to provide perfect work of course, still it is important to show both general effort, as well as the competence to work with yet unknown fields. Especially solution-oriented-approaches are highly valued.
Q: Are grades very important or is the focus more on an interesting CV?
A:I would not say it is either just grades or just an interesting CV that characterises a good application. Grades are of course very important, no doubt about that. Excelling in your studies will definitely open doors to interviews with law firms. Nevertheless, just good grade may still not get you the job and also are no guarantee for someone later being a good lawyer. It is also the personality that counts. Very much can be decided during an interview.
Here also an interesting CV is helpful. I am always impressed by good language skills and the fact that an applicant has already gathered some specialised experience. This of course doesn’t mean it is necessary to have worked already in order to pass interviews.
Q: Is the LL.M. important?
A: Especially for German students, the LL.M. is a supplementary qualification. In my opinion it is a good way to show some kind of “seal of approval”. Even though I would not expect it from an applicant, it sure can show certain aspects of the absolvent. This includes going in a new and different environment in order to get an additional degree, as well as being able to provide international knowledge. Especially in international law firms and the current environment this is a valuable addition.
In general I would say that every specialisation is good and shows your effort to potential future employers.
Q: Is it possible to apply for jobs or internships at the moment?
A: Lexquire is always happy to receive applications from enthusiastic students and graduates. Providing various locations and a young team, Lexquire is still growing bigger and thus open for new contributors. This includes both internships and regular (student) jobs.
Q: Would you do it again?
A: Working in an international setting provides with new challenges every day. Even though this may at times be exhausting, it never gets boring. Therefore, if I were to choose again in which field of law I want to work, I would opt once more for an international setting, as the work is very diverse. Especially the contact to international clients provides for fascinating new aspects. In my opinion, this can only partially be guaranteed when working in a purely national setting.
Q: Final remarks for current students?
A: Maybe the most important thing for current students is to hang on. Not for nothing studying law is classified as extremely hard and sometimes frustrating. In my opinion it doesn’t help that grades today still play an important role when applying for a job. Again, good grade is not everything. It is also important to stay open for new and interesting activities next to your studies.
Thank you very much for your time and expertise.
After the interview with Christina, I am of the view that working in an international setting not only provides with a huge variety of interesting topics, but also a somewhat new view on every-day issues. Especially in an environment where European topics become more and more relevant, international law firms gain importance. Personally I cannot wait to start using my gathered knowledge in practice in form of working at an international law firm.
Written by: Korbian Zeller