"I had to learn how to handle the responsibility"
Anna von Girsewald, Junior-Partner, speaks about jumping in at the deep end.
After I started working as a lawyer in November 2011 I was allowed to participate in transaction work straight away: The Swiss company Sunstar S.A. bought a German medium-sized enterprise, the toothbrush manufacturer Interbros, and I directly participated in the purchase negotiations. My first complete M&A transaction from A to Z was the advising of Vaillant on the purchase of an enterprise in Hamburg. Here, I also coordinated the due diligence team for the very first time, which thoroughly examined all the legal aspects of the target company. My task during transactions is – besides conducting the legal examination – to gain an overview and edit the reports of my colleagues by summarising their content into one document, and to keep in contact with the client. At first it felt very strange to revise the reports of my senior colleagues – and to know that I bore the full responsibility for the end product.
Keep on asking questions
At present I learn something new every day, and I suspect this will be the case for quite some time. Having just entered this profession, I would recommend that you keep asking questions to avoid taking a wrong turn and wasting a great deal of time and effort. One thing I found particularly helpful was an internal course on balance sheet accounting and assessment held by an extremely good lecturer who has been lecturing on this topic for many years. The business management know-how makes it far easier to understand the economic background of a case. An initial introduction to the marketing side was also provided, and there are also regular specialist further educational opportunities and training courses on “presentation skills” and the like. Several colleagues even go on secondment to clients for several months to really familiarise themselves with the processes within an enterprise. This gives you another perspective and helps provide a better understanding of the client’s needs.
In the M&A department the working hours fluctuate tremendously
I enjoy the variety and therefore truly appreciate the fact that we do not “only” advise on transactions. We additionally advise many clients in matters concerning corporate law and corporate transformation law: appointments of managing directors, amendments of statutes, restructurings, incorporations. This is a true contrast to transaction work, also as far as the working hours are concerned. During the peak periods of a transaction we often work late, sometimes for several days in a row and without notice. On other days, however, should nothing urgent need to be handled, my lead partner will then also say: you can take off earlier today.