Sabine Pittrof (Germany) - University of NSW
Course completed in Australia: Bachelor of Laws (LL.B)
Institution: University of New South Wales (UNSW)
Current position: Solicitor (Rechtsanwältin) and partner in corporate law firm, Germany
Sabine Pittrof speaks excellent German.
“More than once in Australia I was told how good my German was,” says the Frankfurt-based lawyer with a laugh.
Pittrof, a German, spent some three and half years in Australia, first as a Study Abroad student, later completing a Bachelor of Laws at the University of New South Wales, and finally, working on her PhD research. She came away not only with a degree but with a love of Australia and an Australian accent!
“I must have lost my German accent somewhere during my travels in Australia,” she explains, “as Germans I met there obviously thought I was Australian.”
Pittrof, who deals with mergers and acquisitions, private equity, real estate, and industrial projects, says her time in Australia had a considerable influence on her.
“I owe a lot to Australia," she says simply.
"The general openness shaped my character. I learnt to view things from different angles, to look at both sides.”
The geography, too, had an effect.
“Being in the Southern Hemisphere makes you aware that there are other important issues out there.”
It was, she admits, a big learning curve for a lawyer with a civil law background. But even while the legal systems are divergent (common vs civil law), the problems are the same. The methods might be different but she believes the outcomes are often similar.
Following her studies in Australia, Pittrof returned to Germany to undertake a PhD in comparative law at Heidelberg University, continuing on with the research she began in Sydney.
“I always had the idea of doing international law,” she explains, “but certainly my time in Australia strengthened the idea and gave me the experience to go on.”
As part of her law degree, Pittrof honed her Japanese and went on to complete some of her articles in Japan. The standard in Australia, she contends, was excellent and some 20 years later, she remains in contact with her teacher there.
Pittrof actively preserves her links with Australia: she established the German-Australian Alumni Association (www.dean-online.de), is a board member of Australian Business in Europe (ABIE – www.abie-germany.de), and works with Australian companies acquiring assets in Europe.
She’s keen to develop her Aussie client base further, arguing that her training in Australia gives her the ability to pre-empt their thinking. Australians naturally approach Europe from a common law perspective, and Pittrof is fluent in both systems. The Australian accent is an added bonus!
Given the right job offer, she admits, she’d be back in Australia in an instant, declaring that the distance is no hindrance at all.
“Being there made me more self-reliant,” she explains.
“It made me realise that we’re all one. It’s a global world.”
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