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Creating Legal Solutions In Offshore Wind20 January 2019


Ralf Hangebrauck was an associate in the firm’s Hamburg office from 2011 to 2013. He is now Legal Counsel for one of the largest German offshore wind farms in the North Sea.

Ralf has a varied role as Legal Counsel in a project company for one of the largest German offshore wind farms in the North Sea, Global Tech I Offshore Wind GmbH (400 MW). As one of only five of the 90 employees with a legal background, “I’m responsible for a number of different legal areas, including energy law – notably the first reallocation of an offshore grid connection for a running wind farm in Germany due in 2019,” he says. Ralf also deals with dispute resolution issues (especially mediation, adjudication, arbitration and state courts) and Public Procurement Procedures.

“I’ve never had a day when I thought my job is boring”

Working in-house compared to private practice is very different, according to Ralf. “You have readier access to information than an external lawyer. I like that I can structure my own day, although I still have to work to tight deadlines and – no surprise – the work-life balance is better, although the salary is lower.” Sometimes Ralf sees his role as an interface between, for example, internal engineers and external law firms, ‘translating’ technical issues for external lawyers on the one side and explaining legal terms to the engineers on the other. He works with a number of different law firms and enjoys observing their different working styles and approaches. “I’ve never had a day when I thought my job is boring,” he says, although there are the inevitable meetings, telephone and conference calls as well as receiving and sending dozens of e-mails – “not much different to a lawyer in private practice!”

“It’s good to see that your own work directly helps towards the success of the business”

As it is a small company with a relatively flat management structure, Ralf enjoys that everyone works in a spirit of close cooperation. “It’s good to see that your own work directly helps towards the success of the business.” He enjoys working in a young industry like offshore wind, “where there is no one who has twenty years more experience than you can have” and being part of a cohort working to create legal solutions to as yet unsolved legal questions in this industry. Any regrets? “The opportunity to live in different countries and learn other languages, such as Spanish or Italian. One day perhaps…”

Ralf always wanted to be a lawyer and never considered studying anything else. “If I wasn´t a lawyer maybe I would have become a (not very talented) basketball player or more probably a basketball referee,” he says. Structuring and prioritising the working day was one of the most valuable lessons Ralf took from WFW and thinks it is vital to success. He also appreciated the culture and the ‘trustful working relationships’ which he saw as one of the main assets of the firm. His appointment to his current role says a lot about WFW’s reputation for quality, he thinks.

Ralf values the contact with fellow alumni, a number of whom also work in the German offshore wind industry and one of whom is a close colleague (they share an office!) As WFW advises the financing banks of his firm, he and his colleagues are in regular contact with Sven Fretthold, Stefan Hoffmann, Wolfram Boge and Pascal Unger.

Recently Stefan gave Ralf the opportunity to speak about his experiences in litigation in offshore wind projects at a breakfast meeting hosted by WFW.

Outside of work Ralf likes gardening and reading (crime-thrillers especially) as well as more energetic activities such as cycling, jogging and hiking in the Alps with his wife.

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