David Gall: An internship in law in a foreign country is a challenge, and that is more than half the fun
Meet David Gall – a young lawyer from Heidelberg, Germany, who has just finished his 1 month-long traineeship in the Corporate and M&A team at INTEGRITES. David is a real cosmopolite – he was born in Germany, spent 7 years in Singapore where attended a bilingual school, and in 2021 he came to Ukraine to do his traineeship with ELSA, The European Law Students’ Association.
David studies law at Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg, which is Germany’s oldest university. Previously he mainly had internships connected to criminal law in Germany (Gärtner-Slania Rechtsanwälte or the Prosecutor’s Office in Mannheim).
Now his time at INTEGRITES comes to an end. Read on to find out more about what it’s like – to be a young lawyer with a passion for international work.
David, why did you choose to study law?
For me law is the ideal mix of approaching issues logically and communicating with others to find a solution. Regardless of the field of law you work in, you’re never truly faced with the same problem twice – which sounded incredibly appealing when I was choosing my studies. And I haven’t regretted my decision since.
Have you participated in other exchange programs before coming to Ukraine?
I had the opportunity to attend various study visits (to Vienna, Brussels, Prague, etc.) during my studies and time with ELSA. Additionally, ELSA offers the incredible chance to attend Law Schools and other events in foreign countries (just like the STEP traineeship I’m currently on) which I took absolute advantage of; I believe I visited about 25 countries all over Europe because of this.
That’s a lot! How did it start for you with ELSA?
During my time in ELSA, I held various offices over the years. I was the Vice President for Moot Court Competitions of ELSA Heidelberg in 2016/17 and after attending various national and international events across Europe and Central Asia, I was invited by the President of ELSA Belgium to be her Director of International Relations. Currently, I am the Linguistic Editor of the Editorial Board for the legal research group on domestic violence, co-organised by ELSA Ukraine and ELSA Azerbaijan.
Cool! Seems like involvement with ELSA implies a lot of travel. What are your favourite countries? Would you like to move or do another internship somewhere?
From a “sights” perspective, the most breath-taking countries I’ve been to are Myanmar and Japan. If asked what my favourite country to visit was though, I would always answer with “Ukraine”. There’s not a single country I’ve been to, where people are as welcoming, warm-hearted, and just genuine as here. So, if I had the opportunity to move somewhere, I would gladly take it to move here. The same can be said for another internship – I’d love to build up on the experiences I gained here and continue to gain more insights abroad.
How did you get to INTEGRITES? Did our firm meet your expectations?
As I’m finishing my studies within the year, I really wanted to take this “last opportunity” to go for a month-long internship abroad. And being able to intern in an international law firm is an amazing opportunity you don’t usually come across, so I just had to grasp it.
What drew me most to INTEGRITES was your international portfolio and holistic approach to issues your clients face. Ukraine was actually a very easy choice for me, as my closest people live here and I fell in love with the country and everything connected to it, the last time I visited in 2019.
Honestly, I did not have any specific expectations but what I found here far exceeded my expectations – I did not think I’d be part of such an unbelievably welcoming and just genuinely friendly team of competent lawyers. It truly has been a pleasure to work with and learn from them; and especially the latter, I have done a lot.
What do you remember from your first day at INTEGRITES?
My first day at INTEGRITES was mainly spent getting to know everyone, being told too many names to feasibly remember, setting up my place at the M&A office and being invited to a volleyball tournament organised by the Ukrainian Bar Association as well as a corporate yacht party. Well, and I guess starting work was in there somewhere too 😊
Which difficulties have you faced here?
I was tasked with quite a lot of things, many of them not necessarily really my forte. Nonetheless, I always had the members of my office to fall back on when questions arose, so I never felt alone in facing these difficulties. But honestly, an internship in a foreign country where you don’t quite know the language, legislation and customs, is a challenge and that is more than half the fun.
What did you like the most while working at INTEGRITES?
I really enjoyed that there was never a boring day at the office – there was no real repetition in my assignments; every day was a challenge but a gratifying one. As such, I was able to take a lot of newly acquired skills away from this internship. And while not strictly falling under “working” – I absolutely loved the atmosphere here: during my month with INTEGRITES, my colleagues went out multiple times to spend time outside of the office hours together – be it at a volleyball tourney, going lunch, the corporate party, or simply grabbing a coffee before or after work.
In what way is it different to work in a law firm in Germany and Ukraine?
I don’t believe my work in Germany can be compared to the one in Ukraine, the scope of the law firms was simply too diverging. I do think that people here are more likely to see working colleagues not just as people they work with but as close acquaintances as well; команда simply has a different meaning here.
What did you learn in our firm?
During my time here I was tasked with quite a myriad of different tasks – be it writing commercial offers, agreements (APAs, SPAs, etc.), looking over contracts, doing research on different jurisdictions and issues, proofreading or translating texts or creating templates. It’s not feasible for me to write everything I did and the new insights I gained through my work here. All I can say is that there was never a boring day at work and that I really enjoyed the challenge and learning from everyone in the office.
You’ve lived abroad before, Ukraine is your new international experience. How will it help you in your future career?
I believe that the ability to adapt to unknown situations, knowing how to approach people from different cultures appropriately and having work experience abroad are all important assets for a lawyer to have, more so if one wants to work in an international setting. I also believe it to be a vital advantage to not just learn foreign languages in a course but actually speak and practice them in their native countries.
Which skills do you think will be a must for lawyers in 20-50 years? Do you believe in robotisation of the profession?
I do believe that one of our main assets as lawyers is the ability to approach individual clients and their distinct issues separately, with our approach being custom-tailored to their specific needs. I do not believe this to be susceptible to change. Outside of that, the world certainly is developing more and more into a digitalised and global forum and as such, IT and foreign language skills will keep becoming more important.
While robotisation can certainly help with sorting through large amounts of data/documents, I strongly feel that the “human component” should never be lost – even in a logical field such as law.
Do you think lawyers should choose specific law area or be like universal soldiers?
While having a holistic overview over all fields of law certainly has its perks, a jack of all trades is truly a master of none – law is simply too large a professional field. Rather I believe that focusing on a specific area of law and being acquainted with the bordering fields to be able to cross-connect on certain issues is the way to go.
What are your plans upon returning to Germany?
Upon returning to Germany, I plan to finish my studies within the year and then either immediately start my “Referendariat” – a two-year practical training period which is mandatory in Germany to enter the bar – or do an LL.M in Belgium in International Business Law. But who knows, if the right opportunity presented itself, I wouldn’t mind gaining some work experience abroad first.
Your TOP-3 places in Kyiv?
Mariinsky park and the view over the Dnipro at night
Vero Vero, for amazing Italian food and ambience
Білий Налив, to meet with friends in the evening and as a start point to explore the city from
Borsch or varenyky?
Living the whole life in one country or changing countries each year?
To live each year in another country, but with my closest friends.
Choose a superpower: to fly, to be invisible or to read thoughts?
To fly; I would not want to know what everyone is thinking all the time.