One of the secrets of Ashurst‘s success in Germany is that everybody in the office calls each other ‘Du’, reckons Ashurst Germany managing partner Simon Beddow.
‘Du’ is the German informal address traditionally reserved for close friends or family, although in times of old one would use ‘Sie’, the formal address, even for one’s parents Herr Vater and Frau Mutter.
Business and the law in Germany are still almost entirely conducted at arm’s length on ‘Sie’ terms, but the influx of Yanks and Brits has lowered the tone more recently. In many international firms in Germany, lawyers now ‘Du’ each other, although many partners still expect to be treated formally and with the appropriate respect.
However, at Ashurst, under Herr Beddow, even secretaries address partners and associates like their best friends or their mums.
But the informal atmosphere has its drawbacks. When being interviewed, some potential recruits have declared they couldn’t possibly work in such a familiar environment.
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