This is the 1st in a series of posts by University of Georgia School of Law students, writing on their participation in our 2017 Global Governance Summer School and Global Externship Overseas initiatives. Author of this post is 2L Nick Duffey.
Before my Global Externship Overseas, I had an interest in transnational business, taxation, and trade, but I did not understand how businesses from different countries resolved their disputes. After spending my 1L summer working at GÖRG, a law firm in Cologne, Germany, it is amazing how much more perspective I have on international business law and practice.
International business transactions affect our everyday lives, from the products we use to the services we need to maintain our lifestyles and businesses. Most transactions, whether for the manufacture and shipping of products or for services rendered by a party from one nation to another, contain arbitration clauses or provide for another means of alternative dispute resolution. These dispute resolution mechanisms were the precise focus of my work at GÖRG.
My favorite project during my internship was an emergency arbitration at the International Chamber of Commerce Court of Arbitration. The entire process, from start to finish, lasted only fifteen days. During this intense period, I was given a particular issue to research, and I was thrilled when the material I found was cited by the arbitrator in the order. The opportunity to see the whole arbitration action from start to finish, and to be integrated into the team working on the project, was very interesting.
I also worked on a project to compare the cost and rates of various arbitration institutions with the cost of litigating in the German court system. The goal was to determine the price at which each arbitration institution broke even with German courts. This required a lot of math and conversion of different currencies. Ultimately, I wrote a memo on my findings and created a presentation to demonstrate to clients the value of arbitration.
Living and working in Germany was an adventure. The GÖRG building sits just north of the Deutzer Brücke, a bridge over the Rhine River in Köln; that is, Cologne. It is a modern building with seven floors. I shared an office with a German intern, and she was very helpful when I had questions about the German courts and legal system. I am also grateful to Christof Siefarth, a partner at the firm and an LL.M. graduate of Georgia Law, for his mentorship during the course of the summer and for organizing my externship.
In my free time, I had the chance to participate in cultural events and to travel within Germany. During Kölner Lichter, an annual festival of lights, people from all over Germany flocked to the city to watch the boat parade on the Rhine. I took a day trip south of Köln to visit Castle Drachenfels, a beautiful castle with a rich history. I also spent a weekend in Berlin, a must-see city in Germany. I enjoyed wonderful brunches until late in the afternoon, and visited sights such as the Brandenburg gate, Museum Island, and the Berlin Wall memorial, including the East Side Gallery.
Participating in a GEO at GÖRG is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have a new interest in arbitration, and I plan to apply to work at an international arbitration center this coming summer. I look forward to building a career in this field because I want to better understand the way businesses clash and resolve issues on an international level. This summer was amazing not only because I garnered valuable practical legal experience, but also because I got to do so on a wonderful adventure that I will remember for life.