Düsseldorf secondment story

There is more to Germany than beer and bratwurst. Of course this is stating the obvious. However, it is worth repeating as telling others about my six-month adventure in Düsseldorf did not always result in the same enthusiastic response as I would have received for destinations such as Paris or Hong Kong. In fact – this city – filled with art, an abundance of terraces and parks, excellent food and incredibly friendly people has so far proven to be a fantastic secondment destination.

The office of Hengeler Mueller in Düsseldorf is significantly smaller than the London office of Slaughter and May, which makes it easier to recognise familiar faces right from the start. When you are new it is custom to introduce yourself to all colleagues in the building, and everyone is keen to invite you for a proper lunch at fantastic sushi restaurants or trendy burger places. As such, despite having my own office, I never spend a day without a good number of chats with my colleagues.

The work itself has been varied, ranging from preparing offer documents for a potential takeover to legal research for an internal investigation. My limited knowledge of German has not been a problem at all. Much of my work has been in English, and everyone is very willing to translate when needed. There are also sufficient opportunities to practise my German, for example by taking language lessons or just having the day-to-day conversations at the bakery (which, by the way, has the best bread I have ever tasted).

After work I walk along the Rhine to my apartment, and train at the local rowing club or go for a drink at the nearby bistro with my girlfriend who joined me for the full six months. As I am originally from the Netherlands it has also been great to live up to the stereotype and cycle everywhere. In my weekends I try to make use of the fantastic train connections to visit one of the many nearby cities. Overall it has been wunderbar!

Sjoerd van der Zwaag
Trainee secondment to Hengeler Mueller