What Does It Take to Become a Dispute Resolution Lawyer?

ELSA career Kaufman Knoetzl students dispute resolution lawyer
Emmanuel Kaufman and other legal experts share their career path with ELSA students

Are you a law student and have a vision of yourself standing suited-up in the courtroom or in meeting room getting your client’s opponent to admit defeat but don’t know how to get there? On August 1st, six high profile lawyers from Baker McKenzie, Baier, Freshfields, PFKA, WilmerHale and KNOETZL’s Emmanuel Kaufman shared their stories at a panel discussions at Vienna’s Juridicum  of how they got to where they are today along with some advice.

Over 40 students from various countries attended the 7th edition of the Dispute Resolution Summer Law School with the topic of Design Your Future, which was organized by ELSA Austria and was moderated by Adi Bikic from the University of Vienna.

How to spice-up your CV?

At the core of any lawyer’s career is passion! Passion for learning about complex problems, finding solutions and fighting for clients. In addition to being passionate, the legal experts gave the great minds of tomorrow in attendance some pointers on what will further their career:

  • make the most of your time at law school: learn as much as you can, be involved in campus activities related to law and start growing your network
  • develop your communication skills: as a lawyer, you need to enjoy speaking in front of a crowd and to do it with confidence
  • work hard: you must put in the work in order to prove yourself and set yourself apart from others
  • do internships: check out different legal areas and see what you like
  • get international experience: being able to speak several languages and having an understanding for different cultures is essential

Emmanuel Kaufman also suggested to be involved in organizations like the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot an annual competition for those interested in arbitration. He reinforced, as did the other lawyers, the necessity of networking. Your friends at college might become your clients one day or maybe even your co-counsels and your reputation will travel by word-of-mouth. The panelists emphasized that a client-lawyer-relationship is always based on trust first. You need to establish a personal connection in order to convince your client that you can win the case.

Be flexible and learn from the best

And while you may have your plan all laid out to climb the career ladder, be sure to keep your eyes open for opportunities that arise suddenly. Adapt your plans if necessary to work with a mentor and surround yourself with people who will be your cheerleaders. It is inevitable that you will make mistakes and that’s okay. Get up, dust yourself off and move on! Follow your gut feeling when making decisions. In the end, you need design your future career in a way that will make you happy. It’s your life! Make it happen and enjoy the ride!

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