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German law students discuss their London internship

Humboldt University students Janka Reinhardt and Ekaterina Kharmats agree that there are plenty of opportunities for law students in Berlin to find out about working as a lawyer.

To learn more about the work and culture of a global law firm, they joined the innovative White & Case campus program. After participating in an interdisciplinary case study, they were selected to spend a two-week internship in the Firm's London office.

Janka explains that, "Although we have already studied for three years, we have to complete our first set of state exams before applying for trainee positions with law firms in Germany. Getting the chance to experience working abroad at this early stage is really an exceptional opportunity." 

Ekaterina agrees, "I was already very motivated to become a lawyer, but being in London has introduced the idea that I could become an international lawyer, living and working in different countries. That's really exciting and something that I wouldn't have known without this internship."

Supportive teams at every level

For both students, working with trainees and associates has been a real bonus. "I've found that the partners are really open, but it's been great to be able to work alongside people who are closer to us in age and experience," says Ekaterina. Janka agrees: "I've been really struck by how friendly everyone is, and how willing they are to help with work matters or talk about their own career paths."

What really sets the internship apart for Ekaterina and Janka is the quality of the work that they are doing. Ekaterina is working with the Intellectual Property (IP) team and Janka is with the Capital Markets team. For Janka, joining this busy group during a major deal has been a great insight into the intricacies of international law. "I've contributed to a 500-page memorandum, working through the details to ensure that it applied to all the jurisdictions involved in the detail. I found myself emailing colleagues in Jakarta for their input." 

Ekaterina was tasked with summarizing the findings of a UK court, and researching aspects of copyright law and intellectual property law in response to a client. "The legal system in Germany is quite different, so this work was very interesting to me, and I feel that I have learned a lot in a short space of time." She adds that the internal and learning opportunities were invaluable: "As well as attending a lunchtime speaker event, I found a webinar and detailed information on a relevant topic that really deepened my knowledge."

Both agree that the "hands-on" nature of the work that London trainees and associates undertake sets White & Case apart; Janka adding that, "My impression is that in Germany, few other firms have international work at the heart of what they do, and even fewer actively promote international rotations or secondments for junior members of staff."

“The door is open to anyone who wants to know more”

For students in Germany considering their future options, Janka and Ekaterina strongly encourage them to get first-hand experience of a law firm. Ekaterina: "It's important to talk to recruiters and lawyers at career fairs, but you only get to really understand the work, the people and the atmosphere of different firms by spending time there. Then you can focus your studies and ambition in the areas that reflect your interests." Janka points out that through its innovative campus program, White & Case encourages students at Humboldt University to attend workshops and other in-house events, like the summer ‘Rooftop Drinks.' "Just come along and say hello! The door is open to anyone who wants to know more."

Finally, how does London compare to Berlin, a European city that's renowned for its energy and young population? "I've really loved being in London and getting to know the city from a worker's perspective, not just as a tourist," says Janka. Ekaterina agrees with the partner who quoted London diarist Samuel Johnson to her: "'If you're tired of London, you're tired of life'— that's definitely true! Just being here has pushed us both so much and in so many positive ways."

Find out more career opportunities in Germany.