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My time at OTP Law Corporation by Gustav Schwenk

The opportunity to get to know OTP was as much a result of coincidence as it was a stroke of luck for me. After graduating from law school in Germany, I enrolled in a double Master’s program with Berlin and Shanghai in order to learn about the legal systems in both countries and to experience life abroad. As the first semester was organized online out of Singapore, I then asked around if someone in my network knew anyone in Singapore. Right away, the lawyer and family friend Christoph Paul and the mediator Christian von Baumbach both independently told me about a very good law firm that I should get in touch with. Much to my surprise, both were referring to the same one. So, with not one but two recommendations I reached out to Susan Tay and thus began my time at the firm.

Right before stepping onto the plane to Singapore, I received a warm invitation from Susan to participate in a class on mediation advocacy taught by Andrew Goodman. This turned out to be a deeply impressive experience. Andrew, along with the participants and OTP lawyers, inspired me to dive deeper into ADR and mediation. Furthermore, I was given the opportunity to receive some practical training by regularly visiting the firm of OTP over the course of six weeks. To get a grasp of the Singapore legal system, I reviewed documents, learned how affidavits and statutory declarations are written, and sat in meetings with clients and internal conferences. I was thrilled to see the straightforward communication and high-level effectiveness in the office.

Also, it was a great experience for me to learn about the workflows in a different legal system. There are noticeable differences in working here compared to Germany. First, the manner a court is addressed is incredibly polite and respectful. This is not to say that the German judges are treated disrespectfully, but in Singapore they are addressed with much more gravitas than at home. Second, the office worked almost completely paperless – a huge improvement to the mountains of paper binders I found myself surrounded by in German offices. Last, I was deeply impressed by the extraordinarily positive work culture in the law firm. It leads to a very friendly as well as highly productive working day. Again, the German law firms’ atmosphere is not unfriendly or unproductive, but it can at times be more stressful and matter-of-fact. I will certainly take this home with me as a motivation.

Another factor that really made me enjoy my time was the personal relationship the team members of OTP established with me. Each of them made sure I gained interesting insights into their field of work. And also outside of work topics, the interactions and talks I had with them were sincere, kind and inspiring. From getting advice about the best places to see in Singapore to hearing wonderful stories about work and life here and to being taught Singlish lessons (lah!), I always felt welcome and included.

For all these reasons, I am thankful for the coincidence that led me to get to know the OTP team who taught me a lot in a short period of time and made me feel very welcome in a new country. I sincerely hope I will be able to work with them in the future.