Being an attorney at Graf von Westphalen is a professional goal of many fully trained attorneys. This is proven by several hundred applications every year as well as hundreds of discussions about careers at trade fairs. The work has obviously made the rounds that working as an attorney with us is different from many other law firms.
We do not have a back office
You have client contact from the very beginning when you are an attorney in our firm. Our relatively low degree of leveraging of 1: 1 assures this. This means that a partner normally has one associate who is fully involved in client work. The low leveraging is also a key aspect in our special training concept. "On the job learning" in working very closely together with experienced and successful partners.
It is never boring in our offices. A large number of the areas of the law handled by our highly specialized attorneys guarantee this. Our expertise extends from waste management law to customs law, general terms and conditions and civil litigation, there is something for everyone. Change of scenery within the practice areas is also guaranteed. Our clients make sure of this. They range from private persons who insist on having high quality legal advice to major international corporate groups. And if you are still looking for more change, we recommend a secondment to one of our other offices in Germany or in a foreign country or with one of our clients or with one of our international correspondents firms.
Life-long learning is part of our philosophy
Learning never stops for attorneys at GvW. Regardless of whether the laws change or it becomes necessary to become familiarized with the circumstances in the industry of a new client, it's absolutely essential for our firm to stay on top of your game. Our continuing education concept supports this with a combination of internal training sessions on specialized topics and soft skills (e.g. how to deal with clients and improving skills in arguing cases) with courses in foreign languages and attendance at external training events. Participation in courses for specialization is also expressly desired and is supported by the law firm; quality is always rewardig and proves itself.
GvW attorney are also people
We do not have any uniform type of template attorneys. When choosing our attorney, we pay attention to individuality, authenticity as well as self-confidence, not to forget a sense of humor. The result of our hiring policies is a team of different personalities who, however, have one thing in common: the conviction of being at exactly the right place at GvW. The traditionally good working environment is complemented by common activities such as office field trips, summer parties and Christmas parties.
Work-Life-Balance and Co.
We have had this for a long time because contractual working hours are a basic prerequisite for our model of working together on a long-term basis. Although the profession as an attorney always involves times of higher workloads, which is why you must have a certain degree of flexibility, work until late into the night and on weekends is the exception at our firm because we recognize that exhausted employees cannot provide the best legal services of the quality which we want to provide to our clients.
Flexible working hours' models
Special circumstances in life require special working hour models. If you want to work on a doctoral thesis at the same time as working for us or if you want to work part-time after the birth of a child or if you want to be involved in teaching law on the side, we make this happen by tailoring working hours and working models (e.g. home-office) to your needs so that we can convince you to join us and retain you as a qualified member of the team while you are able to achieve your goals. This is reality at our firm, as our partners today Carsten Bittner and Christian Winterhoff prove, who were able to complete their academic work while working part-time. Furthermore, we also have an option for part-time partners, because partners can also have an interest in having reduced working hours.
Women at GvW
Supporting women in the profession has been a topic for us for a long time because we are convinced that the career must depend on performance and not gender. Today around 50 % of our associates are women. The number of women as partners in our firm is currently well over 10 % with Cornelia Erdl-Heyer, Ingrid Reichling, Bettina Schmitt-Rady, Andrea Torka und Sigrid Wienhues and this trend is increasing. We actively look to continue this development in the future in our hiring policy and the support we provide to our female employees.
Quality of legal services requires high quality attorneys, and we are very serious about this.
We ask for above-average qualifications
In order to assure our quality, we expect that our attorneys have passed the first German bar exam and the second German bar exam with above-average grades. We expressly place importance on additional legal qualifications such as a doctoral thesis or a master of law degree acquired in a foreign country. Fluency and the ability to negotiate in English are essential because we often represent our clients in international matters. Additional knowledge of foreign languages is viewed favorably.
Ability to communicate and work in a team
Having the best professional and language skills are of no benefit to someone who cannot represent these skills well towards clients and opponents. Therefore, we pay great attention to how you present yourself and your ability to assert yourself and your legal arguments in various situations. You must also be able to work in a team because working in a team with more specialized attorneys is part of everyday handling of complex matters.
Your path to fully developing yourself as an attorney
Our attorneys are also supposed to develop themselves. This requires interest in the client's business, the ability to think in economic and entrepreneurial terms, a certain degree of sensitivity, and especially the ability to enjoy working with people of all kinds. If you have these foundations, you will see that you will witness how you will develop over the course of time from a beginner in the profession to an experienced attorney whose advice is at demand with clients.
An attorney in our firm involves flat management structures, clearly defined steps in the career and the perspective for partnership in the future.
Your start in a profession
We do not hide beginners in the profession and instead include them immediately on our homepage so that our beginning attorneys are not just a name for the client but are instead also a face from the very beginning. After six months, we give signing authority, and after twelve months of working successfully, we include you on the law firm's letter head as testimony to you and the quality of your work.
Dialogue in evaluation meetings
After just one year, we say "Let's have a talk." Regular and structured evaluation meetings are a fixed part of our training concept so that you know at all times where you stand. We speak with you about your performance and show how you can improve. We also want to learn from you, namely, where we can approve. Constructive dialog in the interests of all persons is important, also especially with regard to your prospective in our law firm.
Intermediate goal: associate partner
If you have proven yourself as an attorney, you will normally be appointed as an associate partner after five years of the profession. Receiving this status is not only a sign of recognition of your work in the past, it also gives you additional rights as an intermediate step on the way to full partnership. Not only can you act as an associate partner externally, you are also involved more closely in the internal decision making of our firm, e.g. with the basic right to participate at partners' meetings. Our compensation model for associate partners combines payment geared towards performance with entrepreneurial incentives so that you are guided step-by-step on the way to full partnership.
Partner at Graf von Westphalen
After five to seven years in the profession, attorneys demonstrating the requisite personal and professional capacities are appointed partners; that's what our partnership agreements states and that is how we live this in practice. Examples? Andrea Torka, Patrick Heid and Christian Esch are just some of those who have recently been promoted from employed attorneys to partners. We intend to maintain this model of growth from within in the future so that we can also give beginners in the profession a genuine prospective for partnership in the sense of working together on a long-term and sustained basis.