“Having imagination: looking beyond your own nose and being open for new developments…”
Roland Falder is a founding partner of the law firm EMPLAWYERS. Before he founded this company, he was a partner in large international law firms for more than 20 years. His main areas of focus are company pension schemes, compliance systems as well as cross-border employment and social security laws. Roland Falder consults clients from a variety of industries including technology companies, wholesalers, and financial institutions. You can get more information about Roland Falder in the following interview:
Why did you decide to study law?
The reason was due to a mix of curiosity, which was awakened by an upper-level class in university taught by lawyers, and a lack of alternatives, since I was talented in neither maths nor science. Besides, it seemed to have the best professional perspective and opportunity to work internationally.
How were your university studies and your legal traineeship?
My studies lasted a long time and were very boring. However, once I began my legal traineeship, practical experiences finally came along with it. One highlight during my legal traineeship was the time I was at the National School of Public Administration in Speyer with professors like the later German Federal President and the then chairman of the German Federal Constitutional Court, Roman Herzog. Another highlight of mine was the overseas posting in Bangkok, Thailand, where I – accompanied by envious comments from my fellow trainee lawyers – prepared for the exams on the beach every weekend.
How were the first years of professional life?
The end of my legal traineeship was during the time of the German reunification. Before I started my first job as a lawyer, I worked for the German Trade Union (DBG) in Leipzig, giving advice to members of the preexisting FDGB. It was a very exciting time, which is still a big help to me when I interact with trade unions and works councils. Additionally, this experience has made me view labour law as a balance between interests and a less conflictual field of law.
Furthermore, looking at the past has shown me the rapid development of technology and its impact on everyday work situations. At the beginning, telex, postal services, and fax were the main means of communication with clients and courts. Without regular magazine deliveries, there was no up-to-date information about jurisdiction and legislation. Today, all of this plays no role anymore and the development is going in the direction of very new and even faster forms of work and communication.
What happened to your desire to work internationally?
In the beginning national German law firms were astonishingly regional, or even provincial. Therefore, I took the initiative and went to Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates for three years. This was an incredibly valuable time in terms of language, culture, and important for my future.
After my return to Germany, a flourish of large law firms in international associations with international clients began appearing all over the country. Since then, one of my focus areas has been international labour law with a focus on the Far East (i.e. China, Southeast Asia) and the USA.
Why do you find labour law to be so fascinating?
Labour law is not static. Rather, it is highly political because it is all about the reconciliation of interests, the economic development of states, and the community of states. Everything is in a permanent flow of numerous influencing factors such as politics, court decisions, as well as technological and economic developments. In addition, labour law is unlike any other field of law because it is very personal and allows for open communication. The evolving atmosphere, among companies and their employees, ensures constant change and new experiences.
What were the significant milestones in your legal career?
The aforementioned period abroad can be seen as an important turning point in my career since the start of my professional life began in a comparably regional law firm environment. After my return to the large, international law firm, I realized that the change from one large international firm to another was of high importance. It became clear that having a personal relationship to clients is more important than the name of the firm. Additionally, the establishment of my own, new firm was an important milestone. In addition to now having entrepreneurial freedom, I also must meet many business and administrative challenges, which in larger law firms are organised differently.
Do you have a personal life outside of your professional career?
Fortunately, unlike some of my former colleagues from large law firms where I previously worked, I have a life beyond the office. Throughout my entire professional career, well before “work-life balance” became a buzz-word, I tried to make sure that work not was only focal point of life. Evenings and weekends are predominantly reserved for family and personal interests, and they play an important role in balancing out the challenges of everyday office work.
What are some of your personal interests?
Sports (active and especially passive), travelling, reading, and watching movies or TV series are my primary interests. Thereby, it is an advantage that those interests are similar to those of my family, so that many things – from visiting soccer games to long-distance traveling – can be done together.
Do you have a philosophy for life?
Perhaps an approach based on experiences. Although looking back on the past can be useful to reflect and maybe even avoid future mistakes, I’ve come to realize that the present and the future combined are most important. Having imagination: looking beyond your own nose and being open for new developments – this is what I see as being decisive, both in your private and business life, in order not to suffocate in routine and daily problems.