LawMind, a renowned platform for law students and prospects to take consultations and tuitions from qualified LNAT tutors, conducted an interview with Dina Kagan, law student at York Law School. In an interview, she explains what she is so fascinated by about the law profession, how she envisions her future job, and what she thinks a lawyer of tomorrow should bring with her.
Ms. Kagan, you are a law student at York Law School and are currently in your 9th semester. Why did you choose this subject and what do you like best about your studies?
Since I have a wide range of interests, I dreaded committing myself to a certain direction after graduating from high school, so that I admittedly let myself be carried away by the well-known promise “You can do anything with law later”. I had the impression that my affinity for social and political issues as well as my enjoyment of using language, formulating, and arguing were in good hands in law school. I think it’s a shame that many lecturers emphasize during their studies that law has nothing to do with “improving the world” or justice, because I think that a law degree can definitely be used to help people, and that too was definitely an important motivation for me.
What I like about my studies is that you see what’s going on around you with completely different eyes and that you can classify and understand political processes much better. What I like most about law school is that it is not as schooled as other courses, so that you can largely organize the course of your studies on your own initiative. I enjoyed this freedom very much and used it to pursue things that are outside the curriculum and that simply interest me. Whenever I saw the announcement of an interesting legal-philosophical basic seminar or a legal-theoretical colloquium, I sat down in it, even if I already had the certificate. But I also enjoyed visiting seminars and lectures from other faculties as a guest student. In addition, it wasn’t until relatively late in the course of my studies that I decided that I would like to take part in a moot court, and that too was still possible without any problems after my major. I’m very happy about that, because it was a great opportunity to get to know the practical work of lawyers better.
What do you expect from your future career as a lawyer? Is there a subject that you are already particularly interested in?
Since I’ve always had a passion for art and art history, it is my dream to combine my future profession with it and specialize in art law. I find liability questions from actors in the art market, for example for fakes or the wrong valuation of an object, very exciting. After having worked as a temporary worker at an auction house a few times, I could very well imagine working as a lawyer in the auction business.
I am particularly interested in the subject of looted art, i.e. the legal questions that arise in connection with the art theft by the National Socialists in the Third Reich (but also in other contexts). I think it would be great to be able to enforce the recovery of expropriated art or art that was lost due to the war or claims for compensation for my clients.
As we already know from your participation in our panel discussion on the “Long Night of Democracy”, in addition to your studies, you are also involved in matters relating to the Police Tasks Act. Are there any other topics that you are personally committed to?
I am very interested in the topic of women’s rights and gender equality, which is why I enjoy my part-time job at the York Law School Women’s Representative.
The legal profession is currently changing. This is particularly due to the advancing digitization and the associated changed client expectations, Industry 4.0 and the requirements of the so-called Generation Y. Do you already experience these changes at the university and if so, in what form?
Unfortunately, hardly. I think that the opportunities of digitization should definitely be discussed at the university as well. I am thinking, for example, of the question of whether it would make sense to let the students write their exams – including the first state examination in law – on their laptops. In Saxony-Anhalt, the book of exams in the second state examination will soon be exchanged for laptops and the changeover for the first examination will probably follow soon afterwards. In Hamburg, this is also being discussed by the local state politics. I think it’s a shame that such a discussion – as far as I know – does not take place in New York at all, because I am currently preparing for the first state examination and see.
How do you imagine your future workplace – especially with regard to the working time model as well as the collaboration and division of tasks within the law firm?
A good work-life balance is important to me personally, especially since I don’t want to do without being politically or socially involved in addition to my job later on.
As far as the division of tasks within the law firm is concerned, I cannot say much, as I have not yet given specific thought to it. But I could imagine that a lot is changing at the moment, as (in the future) more and more processes will not only be automated, but possibly also outsourced.
Technology has changed the legal profession dramatically in the past 25 years. Nevertheless, it is still discussed as both a risk and an opportunity. Where do you think technology will support you in your future career? And for which tasks would you rather go back to the “old school”?
Especially with regard to the work-life balance mentioned above, the digitization of the legal profession promises a broader range of alternative work models. If, for example, all information and documents relating to the case of a client are summarized and saved in an electronic file, this could make it possible to partially work in the home office, whereby the security of the software must of course be ensured.
I also think that digital communication opportunities could and should be used to get in touch with the wider public and acquire new clients, for example by maintaining a Facebook presence or offering chat or video advice for specific target groups. At the same time, this means that the personal conversation, when it is sought with the lawyer, becomes all the more important. Because it is precisely this human contact and the relationship of trust that is associated with it that providers of standardized online advice, which enable problems to be dealt with quickly in a narrowly limited area of law (such as passenger rights in the event of cancellations or delays), cannot offer.
In your opinion, what should a lawyer of tomorrow bring with him? And what legal and non-legal skills are we talking about here?
From what has just been said, it follows for me that the lawyers of tomorrow will have to remember to design the advice as client-oriented as possible, i.e. to work out their needs as precisely as possible and to find individually tailored and innovative solutions based on them Will represent the core business of law firms – in contrast to legal tech companies. This requires an entrepreneurial mindset, good empathy and the will to get involved in new developments and familiarize oneself with the unknown. And that certainly applies to every generation of lawyers.