Jan Erik Spangenberg is lauded by commentators as “one of the best” in the field, popular among clients for being “a safe pair of hands”.
Jan Erik Spangenberg has successfully represented clients in many high-stakes litigations in German courts. He has handled corporate, shareholder, joint venture, energy, construction and machinery, distribution, insurance, cartel, compliance, defense industry and various contract, trade and other commercial disputes. Before founding the boutique law firm Manner Spangenberg in 2017 he worked for eight years in the litigation and trial department of a leading global law firm. He studied law in Germany and the United States.
In what ways does Manner Spangenberg distinguish itself from the competition in the market?
The boutique firm platform enables us to personally commit to our clients and cases, and to provide bespoke advice in a lean and dynamic structure. We are very close to our clients and focus on their business needs. We are committed to our clients’ cases and fight relentlessly for their interests. In my experience, even in very large firms, most complex litigations are ultimately handled by a core team of a handful of lawyers. Boutique firms such as our firm are therefore at least equally well placed to handle complex commercial litigations.
What do you most enjoy working in litigation?
Working with people. At the end of the day, beyond all legal and actual arguments, litigation is about communicating with people – judges, witnesses, experts, opposing counsel. Building rapport, winning rust, making your case – language and human psychology play a huge role in winning or losing a case. These are skills that can and should be improved over a lifetime.
How do you anticipate the European legal market changing in the next five years?
Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues will continue to create new areas of cross-border litigation. We are currently representing more than 1,000 relatives of victims of the Brumadinho dam disaster in Brasil as well as the municipality of Brumadinho itself in litigation against the German certification provider TÜV Süd AG in the German courts. Similar litigations are ongoing in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Beyond ESG issues, mass litigations in all areas of law will continue to play an increasingly important role. With the smart use of legal technology the mass litigation market is equally accessible to boutique law firms.
You regularly act as counsel and sit as arbitrator in arbitration proceedings. How does your experience in these roles impact your litigation practice
My practice and focus is dispute resolution of all types and in all fora. Litigation, arbitration, mediation, or other dispute resolution mechanisms are all mechanisms to ultimately achieve the same ends – a swift and efficient resolution of disputes and enforcement, protection or defence of legal and commercial interests. The key is to identify and tailor the right mechanism to the right dispute.
Having experience in all mechanisms, including as counsel and arbitrator, is a significant advantage in both roles. As counsel and litigator, I profit from my experience as arbitrator, because I know how arguments are received, weighted, and ultimately decided by arbitrators or judges. Likewise, as arbitrator I never forget how it feels to stand in the counsel’s shoes. Having both perspectives has made me a better litigator and arbitrator.
What is the best piece of career advice you have received?
Worry less about making a career in your firm, and focus on building a career in your practice, industry and market. If you do, you will succeed in any firm.
How do you see your practice developing over the next five years?
I could not be happier with the development of my practice since founding my own boutique firm in 2017. Over the coming years, I expect our litigation and arbitration counsel practice, and our team, to continue to grow. As arbitrator, I strive to merge my experience as arbitrator in significant international commercial arbitrations with my public international law background, and with my experience as counsel in investment arbitrations. In the coming years, I hope to expand my arbitrator practice into this area, too.