Ulrike Gantenberg enjoys a stellar reputation in the market for her world-class dispute resolution practice, and is particularly knowledgeable in contentious M&A issues.
Ulrike focuses on dispute resolution with a special emphasis on litigation and (inter)national commercial arbitration. She sits as arbitrator and advises her clients as party representative in complex disputes. The main core areas of Ulrike’s practice are turn-key construction (including energy-related projects), corporate and post-M&A (relying on her extensive experience as advisor for corporate and M&A). She is a member of various boards and committees of international arbitration institutions.
What is the most rewarding part of being a litigator?
There is much that is rewarding, but in particular when I find my arguments again in the reasoning section of a decision. It is fantastic to see, when the argument one has developed over months convinced the decision maker and there is no better way to write it but mine.
And there is of course the moment that a witness reveals new facts in a cross-examination that do support my client’s position. That moment, when you realise that you just made a great point and you keep cool and continue with the questions to find out even more – that is certainly unique.
You are considered a leading figure in the dispute resolution market. To what factors do you attribute this success?
I do think that my “endless” curiosity and energy to dig into the very depths of facts, my pragmatism, the desire to keep things simple, to visualize outcomes and my human interest in people are helpful ingredients to provide exquisite work to clients and parties.
How has your arbitration practice enhanced your abilities as a litigator?
I have done both since the beginning of my career, so it is hard to pinpoint. Both practices are complementary to each other, though my litigation practice might be more formal.
I do however see a real impact of being an arbitrator on acting as counsel in litigation or arbitration, and vice-versa. Knowing and experiencing both sides, I definitely have a better feeling of, and approach to the expectations of the other side. I do feel that in terms of structure and tactics I am much more focused and clear than I was before sitting often as arbitrator.
You are often sought after for your cross-border skills. What qualities have proven indispensable to your international practice?
I believe that several qualities are required, of which the dosage may vary over time.
To me it is important to remain open and to never assume to know everything. One must be particularly careful, attentive, and clear to grasp differences of culture, language, misperceptions and law. In practice that requires a solid amount of frustration, tolerance, flexibility and constant curiosity. It is also important, though sometimes challenging, to maintain an openness for different forms of thinking and not to lose sight of this throughout the entire proceeding.
One must also have patience while being firm and clear.
What initiatives have you led as co-chair of the dispute resolution forum in Düsseldorf/Köln?
At the dispute resolution forum, we have many projects, such as enhancing the dialogue between the judiciary, users, and practitioners to the benefit of the market.
We want to foment and improve the standard of litigation in Germany. Our goal is to tackle current, and prepare for future, challenges posed by fast-changing markets. We want to increase the efficiency of dispute resolution in its entirety. We want to understand the needs of the users.
In support of such initiatives, we also have lectures targeting the use of new technologies and approaches, such as artificial intelligence, new legislative projects or simply ways to draw up a status on smart contracts.
What were the most challenging aspects of founding your own firm and how did you overcome them?
Having your own law firm is a life-long journey. When you overcome a challenge, another one will probably appear. That’s how life is - and it is incredibly rewarding!
My biggest challenge in founding my own firm is not the issues, as I had initially envisioned.
Having worked in a big firm for more than 22 years and having also been its managing partner I thought I had it all in terms of management etc. However, being small has very different structural impacts and facets. Happily, I take up this obvious challenge and so I develop incredible new knowledge, insight and skills.
If you could advise your younger self, what advice would you give her?
I would tell her to trust her instincts. Deep down, she already knows the answer.
Also, I would tell her not to take everything so seriously, and not to overthink. There is always a solution, no matter how complicated or frustrating an issue may appear at first sight. And yes, never to lose focus and clarity.
What are your plans to develop your firm's dispute resolution capabilities over the next few years?
Our plan is to further develop our counsel practice in international cases. And of course, to continue finding a better end for our client’s issues.