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Getting an international perspective on work in a new city

Hamburg Referendar Gabriele Stark spent 3 months in our London office. She tells us about her experience of living and working in the UK.

"I chose to do my trainee stage (Wahlstation) abroad, rather than in one of White & Case's four Germany offices because I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to not only learn a more international perspective about law but to get an insight into the day-to-day work of an associate. I also wanted to spend some time in a foreign country prior to starting work as an associate myself." 

Personal and professional highlights

What would she say was the most exciting experience of her London secondment so far? Gabriele finds it hard to choose just one: "That's tough to answer, as I have experienced so many exciting things here! But I would say that the real highlight has been being included in an awesome team with brilliant people. My team was always generous with their time and explained everything they were working on. I got so many insights into major transactions that normally I just read about in newspapers." 

She also says that the London office is a great place to work: "The Firm's restaurant is amazing and they have the best social events." 

A long and supportive relationship

Gabriele points out that her ‘home' team is just as welcoming and supportive and she is looking forward to returning to the Hamburg office to start work as an associate. Her association with the Firm began as a research assistant during her PhD thesis and then as a Referendar during the trainee period (Rechtsanwaltsstation) spent at a law firm. "My team in Hamburg is the best! I am very happy that I have always been surrounded by great and super-supportive people during all different stages of my education." 

How does the English and German law system differ from what she has seen? Gabriele points out a fundamental difference: "In Germany, we work with the codified law and also the according jurisprudence is based upon the codified law. The English law system is a common law system, which means that the law is mostly formed by the jurisprudence and judicial precedents are therefore the most important source of law." There are similarities too. "In London, I was working with the capital markets team, which involves a lot of EU regulation, just as in Germany."

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Lessons to take home

What will she take with her from her time in London? Firstly, she suggests that it's better to ask for guidance than not to understand a task. "In my experience, even super-busy people are happy to explain anything, so always ask if you are unclear about something." 

Secondly, she says that networking can be fun: "Attending social events is the easiest (and most fun) way to meet new people and expand your own network, especially in a big office." Finally, don't believe everything that your London travel app tells you. "Allow extra time to change trains!"

From a personal as well as a professional perspective, Gabriele says that her London experience has made her more open: "I have met and worked with so many brilliant people from all over the world." 

Would she recommend the experience to other Referendare? The answer is yes: "Absolutely! I had the best time and apart from the professional experiences, it was so much fun to be in an exciting city where one can do so many amazing things. It was the best way to catch up on living after the long months spent in the library preparing for the second German state exam."

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