Internship in a large law firm: “Then I just called Washington D.C.”
Luca Manns, 6th trimester student at EBS Universität für Wirtschaft und Recht
EBS Universität: You are back from Latham & Watkins. Why did you choose this firm for your internship?
Like many EBS people, I have always had a keen interest in working on complex and international issues. The leading commercial law firms naturally offer the ideal opportunity for this: Latham & Watkins employs over 2,700 lawyers around the globe in all areas of law. For example, at some point I found myself in a team with many US colleagues. When it came to the details of the mandate, I just called Washington D.C.. Of course, that’s incredibly appealing.
EBS Universität: Which topic direction did you choose?
I had chosen the litigation department. To put it simply, this is where the cases arise in which irregularities occur, i.e. where a lawsuit or arbitration must be conducted, or an internal investigation carried out in the company concerned. Beyond this, large law firms naturally offer the entire range of legal services; from classic M&A business, i.e. the purchase and sale of companies or their mergers, to capital market law and data protection issues. This, after all, is precisely what is exciting for their mandates, often DAX-listed or internationally active corporations.
EBS Universität: What exactly is this like in practice?
I was very fortunate to be closely involved in an internal investigation that was just beginning. As so often, this was the case: the group management board approaches the law firm and is concerned, for instance because an investigation has been initiated against that company or simply because they suspect internal irregularities. These can include fraud, corruption, cartelisation and similar offences, which are mostly committed by employees of such companies and often without management’s knowledge. The problem for these companies, however, is that they can often expect to be subject to high fines or profit skims. These sanctions regularly exceed the profit made from the unlawful act many times over and is financially quite detrimental. Let alone the damage to public image which is often incalculable. In this respect, it is understandable why the management bodies rightly wish to defend themselves against such cases. They then instruct a law firm to carry out the internal investigation so that they can then be defended in the best possible way.
EBS Universität: What exactly were your tasks?
Like every lawyer in the team, I had access to all relevant documents and was involved in solving legal and factual issues. I was also involved both in the internal communication between the L&W offices concerned and in the dialogue with the client. This level of involvement, which my fellow students from other commercial law firms also report on, makes us proud, of course - after all, it also allows us to draw conclusions about the high quality of our legal training here at EBS.
EBS Universität: How would you sum up your internship?
I am deeply impressed by the professionalism and internationality I have experienced. At the same time, all employees, from the partner team to the back office, were always open, cordial and relaxed - the aloof, head-in-the-clouds lawyer, as we know from many TV series, is not to be found here. Instead, I experienced a lot of teamwork and a great feedback culture. For example, my mentor, a lawyer from the same department, always took the time to discuss the results of my legal work and give me tips. Last but not least this superb mount of effort and attention towards us interns is the reason why I would like to return soon!
EBS Universität: In conclusion: Can you give us some hints on how to be accepted as an intern in a large law firm?
While quite a few students are only familiar with international commercial law firms from “Suits” or the press, we at EBS Law School are quite used to dealing with them. Whether as lecturers in university courses, in the context of events in the faculty or at workshops on site: we experience representatives of various professions from the large circle of our partner law firms, which are world leaders. Latham & Watkins LLP, the leading US law firm, is represented on our Board of Trustees, as are many of the most renowned British and German law firms with which some of my fellow students have completed internships. Not least because we are also in close contact with the partner law firms, who sponsor student events such as the EBS Law Congress. Of course, every intern must also meet the high requirements in terms of grades and personality - but we at our faculty seem to meet these requirements well in view of the many internships at large law firms.
EBS Universität: Thank you very much for the interview!