Karla Graupner July 1 to September 30, 2016

Experience Report

- The elective station at BridgehouseLaw in Charlotte -
In the following, I would like to describe my experiences during my three-month elective position at BridgehouseLaw in Charlotte. Since I already had the opportunity to complete a great Erasmus semester in Spain during my studies, my wanderlust grew steadily during my legal clerkship. It was my great wish to live and work in English-speaking countries for a period of time. The elective station as the last station of the legal traineeship is particularly suitable for this.

BHL is a German-American law firm with offices in Charlotte (North Carolina) and Atlanta (Georgia) in the USA. Charlotte Law Office is located in Uptown in the heart of this incredibly beautiful city. The skyline is simply impressive at any time of the day. The nickname “Queen City” is therefore entirely justified. Uptown brings that typical American big city feeling with it. But other parts of the city also have a lot to offer. There is always something going on in Charlotte and there is a lot to see and do. You can find out more about this on the Charlotte website and on www.charlottesgotalot.com.

The law firm is oriented towards commercial law and deals with cross-border issues mainly from corporate law, labor law, real estate law, and naturalization law. As a trainee lawyer in the USA, one counts as "internal", that is, as an intern. Because of this, you also work with German and American interns, who all have different levels of legal knowledge. The law firm's team makes sure that you get tasks appropriate for your level and that you are challenged so well but never overwhelmed. The projects are assigned by all lawyers as well as by the managing partner and are partly to be done alone but partly also in a team with the other interns.

With regard to German law, among others drafting briefs for my tasks. I was also allowed to work out proposals for comparison and draw up two contracts for easements. I was extremely grateful for that because the subject of contract drafting tends to be neglected in legal training in Germany. So I was able to close a few gaps. But American law was not neglected either. I accompanied the handling of some traffic accidents involving German tourists in the USA but also dealt with some demanding labor law issues. You were always directly involved in the processing of the mandate. I was also able to attend and actively participate in some client discussions. A small highlight for me was the creation of a PowerPoint presentation on the topic “A comparison of the health systems between Germany and the USA”, which I was allowed to be present at the Gastonia Rotary Club. My daily tasks also included translating legal documents and writing several specialist articles for the law firm's newsletter and blog. This was a great opportunity to get involved, as you could find current legal topics yourself that might be of interest to clients.

In summary, I can only say that BridgehouseLaw is a great law firm with great local people. I always felt that I was in good hands. I can therefore warmly recommend the “BridgehouseLaw Internship Program” to everyone because it is an experience that will shape you for the rest of your life. I learned a lot of new things, but also gained confidence in terms of my existing skills. The elective position at BHL went far beyond what I had dreamed of from this position. On my next trip to the USA, a visit to the law firm again is an absolute must.

Keep it up BHL!