My employer calls me to his office and hands me a file. It's an arbitration case he's been handling for some time. "Jack," he begins, "these numbers aren't making any sense." I look puzzled. "I need you to go over our client's counter-claim and tell me what we've got." With that, I'm handed a our client's brief jacket and several spreadsheets. Great, when did I become an accountant?
So what can an American law student do in Prague? Quite a bit, especially when nearly 85% of your clients are North American businesses. I'm talking about multi-national corporations that any American knows about, and which of course, I can't dilvuge because of confidentialy reasons. But to give you an idea how big these clients are ... you run into their brand names just about everyday. So why are they in the Czech Republic? Well, I quick plug for the CR ... its centrally located in Europe, the labour force is cheap and skillful, plus Czechs have lots of disposable income. Where else should a company invest? (Yes, but China's not in Europe).
During my 4-week internship as a summer trainee, I rotated between the two main practice groups at my firm. I spent the first two weeks with the Trademark group and I am finished the remainder of my summer with the Commercial Law group. At first, I was just reading through client case files and flipping through English translations of the Czech Codes. I've found that reading case files is a decent way to better understand the methods behind the firm's practice. I did a fair amount of editing when it came to English versions of contracts, lease agreements, settlements, etc. heck, I even wrote a few memos during my contract here.
I doubt that its appropriate, but the partners introduce me to clients as "the American practioner." There was a particularly embarrassing moment last Thursday when it was dreadfully hot in Prague. We don't have central air and my air conditioner unit was broken. I figured if another lawyer was working in his undershirt, why not. Later in the afternoon, I hear a knock on my door. Figuring it was just my secretary delievering papers, I ignored the door. However, to my surprise, there were two French businessmen in business suits at my doorway. Apparently, Dr. Čermák was giving clients a tour of our three-level office. There was nowhere for me to hide in my office. It probably would've been better if I had just acted as if it was usual for me to wear a wife beater shirt.
Now, back to my current case. They need an auditor not a lawyer. Someone should really look over these numbers because it's a hassle attempting to second guess what are actually claiming.