Summer Experience: Rob Hawes ’24L Rob Hawes spent his summer working for Jones Day in Frankfurt, Germany.
Rob Hawes ’24L is originally from Easton, MA and attended Boston College for his undergraduate degree. He then worked as a consultant in New York City before starting law school.
What did you do for work this summer?
I worked for Jones Day in their Frankfurt Office. I worked in their Financial Markets, Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A), and Tax Practices.
How did you find/get this position?
I got in touch with Professor Russ Miller who at the time was still in Germany and expressed my interest in working overseas for the summer. From there, he pointed me to the hiring partner for the Frankfurt Office that he had worked with in the past to place W&L Law students in that office.
Describe your work experience.
I did everything from writing legal memos to translating contracts to working with German regulators to figure out how to unfreeze a client’s money sitting in a Sanctioned Russian bank. However, I spent most of my time dealing with ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) related assignments because the EU is starting to crack down on how Banks deal with ESG funds. The crack down is worrying a lot of Banks in Frankfurt so there was a lot of legal work to go around.
What were some skills you developed this summer?
I improved my ability to adapt my communication style. I found the German stereotype of being direct and extremely detail oriented to be true. The way I would answer questions in law school or at my old jobs was very different than how I would respond to partner’s questions in Germany. Even if it was responding to a simple email, the German lawyers wanted in-depth answers that got into the nitty-gritty of the situation, where my work experience in the US emphasizes brevity and keeping it high-level.
What surprised you about the work you did this summer?
How much “work” happens before the actual legal work. Not many law students have the opportunity to work at a Big Law firm like Jones Day after their first year, so I had the unique experience of seeing how they operate from the inside. I worked closely with Dr. Michael Fischer, partner in the Financial Markets practice, where I helped him with administrative work in regards to client/matter intake. I did not realize how many steps occur between the client and firm before the firm can start billing the client.
What was your favorite aspect of this summer work experience?
Traveling around and meeting new people was the best part. This was not a study abroad experience where I was surrounded by American students. The people I spent time with outside of work were German, Italian, British, and from other European countries. While I was working, I was able to take weekend trips to Amsterdam, Heidelberg, and Rothenberg am der Tauber. After I was done, I had some friends from home fly over and we traveled around Europe for a week. The Highlight of the trip (and the summer) was going to Zermatt and seeing the Matterhorn up close.
Has this experience helped you figure out post graduate plans, and if so, how?
Ironically, I think it lessened my desire to take a job in Germany at some point in my career. Before this experience, I wanted to take any opportunity that came my way to do so, but this summer highlighted to me the litany of drawbacks of working in Germany (i.e. taxes, lower attorney salaries, lack of air conditioning). I am not swearing off the chance to go back and work there, but now I have a better understanding of what the opportunity would entail and can make a more informed decision should the opportunity arise.
How do you think this experience will shape the rest of your time at W&L Law?
I think it will give me the confidence to pursue academic and professional opportunities I would not have otherwise. Going into this summer, I had no substantive German legal knowledge nor had I ever worked in a law firm before. I was able to adapt to the new environment to get the job done. Now I know that I can handle new situations and won’t be as tepid to say “yes” when a new opportunity comes my way.
My summer experience will help me on my journal. After working with attorneys from Germany and other European countries, I have experience communicating with the European legal community. I am a junior editor on the German Law Journal (GLJ) which involves working with European Legal scholars to revise their articles that the GLJ will publish. The summer helped me understand how to best communicate with the European legal scholars to ensure everything is clear on both sides.
I also get to annoy all my friends here with my travel stories.
Outside of Law School
I am always down for a good hike.
Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse
Favorite Thing to Do in Lexington
The best thing about Lexington is the people, so I would have to say hanging out with my friends.