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Brussels Update - ‘Adjusting to Brussels’

Burnetts' trainee solicitor Ross Galbraith has secured a six month secondment at the Law Society’s office in Brussels as part of this training.  Whilst at the Brussels Office, Ross will be attending parliament committee meetings and helping to write and edit publications for the legal profession including the Brussels Agenda, developments and case law updates from Court of Justice of the EU and the Societies’ EU Legislative Update.

Adjusting to Brussels

It has been over a month since I left Carlisle, embarking on a rather unknown journey to the heart of the European Union. The past month or so have been an eye-opening experience not to mention challenging at the same time (the main challenge being my rather ‘basic’ grasp of French).

Arriving in Brussels for the first time, I was full of apprehension, especially as I didn’t know a single person. After walking around the centre of Brussels on my first day; I did say to myself, ‘what am I doing here’; it was definitely a big change from what I was used to.

This was quite apparent on my first day at the office; Carlisle and the quaintness of North West England seemed very far away when I made my first commute to work. Walking through the EU quarter, passed the European Commission amongst a sea of commuters was very different to my regular ‘5 minute drive’ to Rosehill industrial estate and the occasional hold up on Warwick Road.

After the getting the dreaded first week out of the way I began to relax and settle in. In general I have found meeting people fairly easy as there are many short term interns and secondees like myself. I share a flat with 4 others, all working at the various institutions – exactly in the same boat as me.

A rather ‘fun’ aspect of living here so far has been organising social events with other trainee solicitors in Brussels. Many hale from the ‘magic circle’ firms in London. On our first drinks night at the appropriately named ‘Beer Factory’ it made me laugh when many of them ‘didn’t know’ where Carlisle was….. I ended up having to say it was ‘near Manchester’ but still, most of them looked very confused; I never felt so Northern!! Organising the events is a great way to meet young lawyers and every Thursday since arriving, we all go out for food and drinks.

So far I have found Brussels is a great place to live and work; there is a definite buzz around the place with a very vibrant professional scene.

Since arriving there always seems to be an EU drama around the corner that sends the place into frenzy. One of the big talking points (as you are no doubt aware) has been the Cypriot bailout. The rather controversial and unprecedented terms of the bailout have been a shock to much of the Eurozone. I found myself consumed by the Cyprus story. Although I no doubt would have followed this story back in the UK, being here meant I was able to follow the story in greater depth and detail (not to mention living with two journalists, which also helps).

Living in a place where important decisions are made affecting large amounts of people is incredibly exciting and you instantly feel in the loop with all matters EU.

As for a taste of Belgian culture, the beer is fantastic and the frites are the best you will have… I couldn’t ask for much more. Although I still haven’t had any ‘moules frites’ or even a Belgian waffle; they are on my to-do list.

Not far from Brussels are cities such as Bruges, Ghent and Leuven which I have been told are very nice. I plan on exploring these cities over the next month, sampling some more Belgian culture and history.

Over the next 5 months I will be writing legal briefings on various areas of EU Law including the Common Agricultural Policy, Public Procurement, Data Protection, Insolvency and proposals for the reform of the Trademark system and much more. If you are interested in receiving these updates, please email Brussels@burnetts.co.uk.

(Above: Ross Galbraith at the Law Society Office, Brussels)


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Published: Monday 29th April 2013

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