In this article we gain insights into the energy legal market within Germany from Dr Heidrun Schalle, Partner at BH&W. Dr Heidrun Schalle is listed in the JUVE Handbook for Business Law firms as a frequently recommended Lawyer for Energy law as well as the Handelsblatt (together with the US publishing house “Best Lawyers”) in the category “Germany´s Best Lawyers” for Energy law. Her extensive knowledge within the sector and highly accredited profile makes her an expert in this field, all of which making this article a highly informative and insightful piece.
Q: Since joined BH&W in 2010, just a year after it was initially founded, what have been some of the biggest challenges and changes to your role over the past 12 years?
A: To build up a client network since I came without clients for I was in-house the years before BH&W. Then to keep them through Covid-19- restrictions and related limited networking events, meetings and similar occasions to meet people. It was then our stable and reliable network, which took us over the past Covid 19 years.
Q: You are listed in the JUVE Handbook for Business Law firms as a frequently recommended Lawyer for Energy law as well as the Handelsblatt (together with the US publishing house “Best Lawyers”) in the category “Germany´s Best Lawyers” for Energy law. What have been some of your greatest milestones in your journey to this point?
A: To build up stable and well-connected relations to clients from very different backgrounds with their various differing challenges and objectives. This requires being open to new topics, developments to be able to accompany clients in a long-term perspective, which enables a valuable and efficient collaboration for both sides.
Q: With your titles and accolades spanning Germany (and beyond), how does the energy legal scene vary across some of the major German cities?
A: There are some varieties between the cities in Germany in our field. In Hamburg for instance the maritime location, port and trading influences topics also in climate and energy law such as land-based power supply for vessels or grid topics related to an import of energy such as hydrogen. In Berlin, however, the market for politics-related consultancy is unique and gives room for a broad range of Think Tanks and consultancy firms. Nordrhine-Westfalia, however, has the core centre for Germany´s industry and there are some firms, which focus in particular on consulting for energy intensive entities. This could be continued and gives just an example.
Q: With your specialism as an advisor for undertakings in physical and financial energy trading in mind, can you comment on what kinds of challenges these businesses face when conducting business in Germany?
A: They need to be compliant with the regulatory requirements, which embrace a very broad framework of laws and regulations. This could seem like a challenge for foreign firms. However, it is manageable at the end of the day. One should also know that the competition is quite high in the German market. In addition, these days the commodity markets are highly volatile, the latter is true, though, for every commodity market these days.
Q: Germany is a pioneer in the renewable energy world, with policies and laws in place such as Germany’s Renewable Energy Act (EEG) to support the expansion of this sector and Germany’s plans to be carbon-neutral before 2050. How does this increasingly expanding and complex sector impact your role?
A: Renewable energies are a core field of my consultancy business. I expect that this will increase since carbon neutrality is to be reached now until 2045 at latest. In addition, it is a predominant objective to become much more independent from foreign fossil supplies. It is due to these reasons without any alternative to invest consequently and within in a relatively short period into renewables.
Q: What are the culture and values that are maintained across the BH&W, and how does your team collaborate to ensure the best possible service for clients?
A: We work together as independent and self-responsible partners at BH&W. We avail ourselves of partners, which have all more than 10 years at least experience in the field. This enables a highly efficient and to the point consultancy work for our clients. We work together if a mandate requires it according to expertise and specialization in small teams. We can avail ourselves moreover of stable and long-lasting networks with engineering firms and consulting entities to build up experienced as well as efficient teams for supporting our clients.
Q: How has growth in technology changed the way you work and helped to improve processes at BH&W?
A: A major development was the comprehensive introduction of virtual tools for communication. They replaced meetings, conferences, court hearings. This was the predominant development during the Covid-19 years.
Q: What are the three most important attributes for a Lawyer to have, to be successful in your sector?
A: Stay curious, welcome new developments as a positive change, be always reliable and passionate for and towards your clients.
Q: Where would you like to see the evolution of your role in 2, 5 and 10 years time?
A: I aspire to build up a more integrated team, which provides consultancy services for the industry, heating and mobility sector from an economic and legal as well as technical background and expertise. This rendered by me now in collaboration with other companies. To approach this objective there will be a supportive change in the professional conduct rules for lawyers in Germany. From 01/08/2022 onwards, lawyers can set up joint legal entities together with other professions such as physicians, architects, engineers, pharmacists.
From everyone here at Interlink Talent Solutions we would like to thank Dr. Heidrun Schalle for taking the time to answer our questions in such great detail, providing excellent insight into the specifics of the energy legal sector within Germany. We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to talk to inspiring faces in the world of law and hope this Q&A inspires others with their legal future.