Nata Ghibraze `14 from Georgia has long been fascinated by the possibilities of international abitration. What started with the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot competition has lead to a budding career in the field of international arbitration. Nata has recently joined Hogan Lovells international arbitration team in Munich.

Like many of our students from Georgia and Eastern Europe you have always been very interested in arbitration. Where does this interest come from and why do you think studying arbitration is particularly important for young lawyers?

“I first got interested in international arbitration during the 4th year of my Bachelor studies at Iv. Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University when taking part in Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Competition. I got fascinated by the effectiveness of international arbitration as a means of dispute resolution. Its truly international character, comfort in designing own proceedings, choice in arbitrators and most of all, trust in enforcement of awards in other countries, appealed to me from the very beginning. It comes as no surprise that nowadays, international arbitration has gained widespread acceptance and has become the preferred method of dispute resolution. Ever since participating in the Vis Moot, I wanted to specialize in international arbitration and have been striving towards achieving this goal.

I always believed that Georgia has great potential to grow as a pro-arbitration jurisdiction. I am glad to have seen many positive changes already in this regard, including amendments in legislation making it more pro-arbitration, the establishment of the first international arbitration institution (GIAC), various non-governmental organizations such as Arbitration Initiative Georgia (AIG) and most crucially, interest of young professionals in the development of arbitration in the country.

In general, I believe that each country benefits from the confidence of international investors and local businesses if the delivery of justice in the country is perceived as generally fair and reliable, relatively quick, inexpensive and involving procedural formalities that are not burdensome - all of which is guaranteed by arbitration. This is one of the reasons why I think that young lawyers should be highly interested in studying international arbitration and should be devoted towards promotion and development in their respective countries.”

I remember that, different to many of your classmates, you had initially not wanted to stay in Germany. Now 1,5 years after graduation, you are building a career in Germany. How did this come about? What have you been up to since graduation?

“Indeed, I did not initially plan to stay in Germany. This was the reason why I did not concentrate on learning German during my studies - a decision I very much regret now. After graduating in September 2014, I took some time off to travel and go back to Tbilisi. I was planning to move to London for a traineeship and had already arranged everything in order to commence my traineeship in December 2014. However, sometimes life brings surprises, and in my case, a week before moving to London, I received a job offer from Linklaters LLP in Frankfurt am Main and decided to stay in Germany for another year. It was a great pleasure to be involved in complex international arbitration cases together with outstanding lawyers. Looking back, I am very thankful for the experience and contacts acquired as a result of my employment at Linklaters.

Due to the strong legal market in Germany, with very qualified lawyers and interesting areas of practice, I decided to stay in Germany and start building my career here. Although it is well known that it is hard for foreign lawyers to work in Germany, I decided to take this challenge and explore my opportunities. After my employment with Linklaters, I pursued a 2-month intensive German language courses and recently, in March 2016, joined Hogan Lovells as a Projects Associate. Hogan Lovells is one of the leading names in international arbitration worldwide and it is a great honor to be a member of the international arbitration team in Munich. I was welcomed very warmly and on a daily basis I enjoy working next to excellent practitioners in this field. I hope to be an added value to such an outstanding practice group.”

How did the knowledge you acquired during the Master of Law and Business program help get you to where you are today?

“The Master of Law and Business played one of the key roles in getting me to where I am today. The courses during the program were not only interesting in their content, but very diverse as well. I had taken all the classes in international dispute resolution and wrote my thesis in the field of international arbitration. Still, as a lawyer, I found the business part of the program as the key competence I have acquired. Before the program, I had never attended a business course. Due to this reason, I always wanted to do a program, which would give me knowledge not solely in law but in business as well. As a lawyer with a purely legal background, I saw the need to learn at least the basic concepts in business, finance and accounting. Today, I am happy I had the chance to pursue the program and obtain these additional skills, which I find highly beneficial.

Apart from the knowledge and skills, Bucerius Law School and the MLB program itself gave me unique networking opportunities. The contacts I have obtained as a result of the program are an important part of my network throughout the world.”  

What advice would you give young professionals who are interested in the Master of Law and Business program?

“I would advise them to pursue the program and make the most of their year at Bucerius. It is vital that one pictures oneself after the program and acts accordingly. As much as it sounds like a cliché, setting goals and striving towards achieving them is the key to success.

I consider carefully designing one's curriculum to be very important. I also think that during the program it is crucial to not only concentrate on the studies, but to explore the opportunities outside the law school, establish a good network and take part in other activities. Among others, using the internship time to explore future opportunities is one of the key aspects I would think of right now.

Finally, before starting the program I would kindly advise everyone to make an effort and start studying German. Not only will this help you to be more self-confident in your professional life, but also will help you to make the living experience in Germany more fruitful and interesting.”

What are your fondest memories of your time in Hamburg?

“Hamburg is a spectacular city with a vibrant and at the same time relaxed life-style. It is very international and provides many opportunities for getting to know interesting people. It was one of the best years I have had and I think of my time in the program very warmly. I remember the first two weeks of the orientation with great pleasure. Getting to know the city, course-mates and the general atmosphere in the law school and Hamburg stayed as a great memory. I remember our class get-togethers and the law school parties very well.

I also think often of the sunny warm days in Hamburg and the times where I could get out of the law school and relax in the beautiful Planten un Blomen park that surrounds the campus. Most of all, my fondest memories are connected with spending nice evenings and weekends with my friends from the program at the Alster Lake, in the Blankenese neighborhood or elsewhere in the city. These people are very dear to me today and will stay so forever. Overall, I truly fell in love with Hamburg and I use every opportunity to come back and spend time there.”