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“The secondment showed me what truly matters to me”

May 2022: David Marder is a Referendar based in Düsseldorf, who has recently completed his overseas stage in our New York office. He took some time out from his busy life in the "Big Apple" to answer some questions for us.

What was most exciting about the prospect of working overseas?
In my opinion, getting to know a different culture and learn how other countries "tick." For example, I noticed the American friendliness right away. When it comes to work, it is of course very interesting to get a glimpse into how a different legal system works in practice.

What's the same about working at White & Case in New York compared to Germany, and what's different?
The corporate culture is very similar—everyone is just so helpful and kind. My stage in New York only confirmed this impression, which I had already gotten during my time as a legal intern and summer associate in the Düsseldorf office.

What's definitely different is the size of the office. The New York office is simply huge, with 11 floors in a downtown business building. The people in New York are overwhelmingly friendly and helpful. You get to know the people on your floor relatively quickly, and I also got to know people on a more informal basis while working out in the office's own gym.

What skills do you think this experience has helped you build?
The stage had a big impact on my fluency in spoken English—I have not been to a foreign country for a work or study-related stage before (partly because of Covid) —and always felt that my foreign language conversation skills would need some improvement. And I definitely saw that happen here. For the first few days, I still felt quite insecure when engaging in conversations—be it in the office or outside in the city. But just being immersed in this setting 24 hours a day, seven days a week for three months really helped me gain confidence in speaking.

Tell us a couple of personal highlights of your time in New York
One of my highlights certainly was standing in an empty Times Square, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge by foot (what a view on the city!) and in general the diversity of people (and also food) in the city. I did some of the typical tourist attractions, like visiting MoMa, the 9/11 memorial and the new One World Trade Observatory. New York really is a melting pot for so many different cultures, and I am really grateful that I was able to experience that.

And what about the work?
I was able to work a lot more independently, partly due to the different time zones in the US and Germany. I usually had several tasks to manage on my own. I found it really engaging to be able to represent White & Case at a virtual career fair where I talked to students and graduates from Germany about what it is like being sent to an overseas office. Also, some of the first-year associates asked me if I wanted to sit in on an arbitration hearing a New York partner was on, which I also found really interesting to see.

Do you think this experience has confirmed or changed your professional ambitions?
This experience has totally confirmed my professional ambitions to start a career in antitrust law. What I am most grateful for is that the secondment showed me what truly matters to me. New York is an overwhelmingly amazing city, where so much is going on and where you can get to know really inspiring people. But being here also showed me all those things I love about Germany and the people I have a connection with there.