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Bernd Weller

Bernd Weller

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Thought Leader

Thought Leaders - Germany

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

Biography

Bernd is a partner of Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek PartGmbB. Together with Andreas Walle, he co-heads the firm’s labour and employment practice. Most of Bernd’s work is related to works council issues – both contentious and non-contentious – in which he is regarded as one of the leading experts. Bernd has always been drawn to international aspects, and studied not only in Germany but also in France and Italy. As a consequence, most of his clients are international companies or groups of companies.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO PURSUE A LEGAL CAREER?

Of course, I was a great admirer of Matlock and the like. But in the end, it was a different reason that brought me to the law – I am interested in almost everything and could not imagine focusing mainly on one thing in my life. As a lawyer, I get an insight into so many different industries, enterprises and people. That’s what made me choose law as my profession.

WHICH LABOUR AND EMPLOYMENT CASE WILL YOU ALWAYS REMEMBER AND WHY?

Actually, there are two cases that I will always remember.

In my early years as a (senior) associate, I was involved in a massive dispute between Deutsche Bahn and the Train Conductors’ Union. Over a period of several months, many strikes were called and we were able to stop many of those with preliminary injunctions. This period was incredibly intense as regards workload, but it was a team effort and we were making legal history. At the same time, there were many tiny stories – inter alia, helping the bailiff to climb into the Union’s garden so he could deliver a court order, riding in a (very old) taxi across Germany to get court orders delivered before the strike initiated, and so on.

The second case concerned a company in which there was a struggle between different factions of the works council. There were many legal disputes going back and forth. Most of the disputes were linked to one particular member of the works council who had a very selfish and ideological way of handling things. She was strongly supported by a small group of “believers” and her lawyer. Together with her lawyer, she started a significant media campaign – calling the opposition (majority) within the works council “yellow” trade unions. Furthermore, any employer measure against the minority group was attacked as “union busting”. I came on to the scene when one of the court proceedings – the contesting of the works council elections by that small group – took a wrong turn at the Court of Appeal. We finally succeeded at the Federal Labour Court, which made a landmark decision. In that case, I learned a lot about media campaigns and the mechanisms of good and poor journalism.

HOW HAS THE LABOUR MARKET CHANGED SINCE YOU STARTED PRACTISING, AND HOW HAS THAT IMPACTED YOUR LEGAL PRACTICE?

The market has evolved quickly from a traditional “dark oak lawyer world” into a modern legal service industry. As a consequence, there is always the need to show and prove (new) added value, (deeper) specialisation, quicker responses and, at the same time, the strength to keep on top of the workload so as to see the medium- and long-term consequences of advice, and to keep from crossing the line.

WHAT ASPECT OF YOUR WORK DO YOU ENJOY THE MOST?

I love having the chance to see so many different businesses from the inside, to spend years with them and to see them develop in part due to legal advice.

WHICH SKILLS HAVE BEEN KEY TO YOUR SUCCESS?

Creativity, loyalty and sincerity have been crucial for my career. Labour and employment law is people’s business. Thus, it is important to keep sustainable personal relationships with clients and their counterparts. When it comes to problem-solving, creativity is indispensable. Sometimes, it is not enough to follow the book; in these instances, new pages must be written.

HOW DOES HEUKING KÜHN LÜER WOJTEK DISTINGUISH ITSELF FROM THE COMPETITION?

We are a partner-driven firm in all aspects. Our partners are actually advising clients, rather than just managing matters.

WHAT IS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE FACED BY LABOUR AND EMPLOYMENT SPECIALISTS TODAY?

The greatest challenge is surely to find ways to allow for agile and modern working schemes and environments – although employment laws still mainly derive from the 1960s and 1970s, and still target the traditional industrial environment with employee and employer role models that are largely outdated.

YOU HAVE ENJOYED A DECORATED CAREER TO DATE. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO ACHIEVE THAT YOU HAVE NOT YET ACCOMPLISHED?

Having started to practise karate some years ago, I am aiming to achieve black belt status. Currently, I am holding the first (out of three) brown ones.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

Biography

Bernd is a partner of Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek PartGmbB. Together with Andreas Walle, he co-heads the firm’s labour and employment practice. Most of Bernd’s work is related to works council issues – both contentious and non-contentious – where he is regarded as one of the leading experts. Bernd has always been drawn to international aspects, and studied not only in Germany but also in France and Italy. As a consequence, most of his clients are international companies or groups of companies.

What inspired you to pursue a legal career?

Of course, I was a great admirer of Matlock and the like. But in the end, it was a different reason that brought me to the law – I am interested in almost everything and could not imagine focusing mainly on one thing in my life. As a lawyer, I get an insight into so many different industries, enterprises and people. That’s what made me choose law as my profession.

Which labour and employment case will you always remember and why?

Actually, there are two cases that I will always remember.

In my early years as a (senior) associate, I was involved in a massive dispute between Deutsche Bahn and the Train Conductors’ Union. Over a period of several months, many strikes were called and we were able to stop many of those with preliminary injunctions. This period was incredibly intense as regards workload, but it was a team effort and we were making legal history. At the same time, there were many tiny stories – inter alia, helping the bailiff to climb into the Union’s garden so he could deliver a court order, riding with a (very old) taxi across Germany to get court orders delivered before the strike initiated, and so on.

The second case concerned a company in which there was a struggle between different factions of the works council. There were many legal disputes going back and forth. Most of the disputes were linked to one particular member of the works council who had a very selfish and ideological way of handling things. She was strongly supported by a small group of “believers” and her lawyer. Together with her lawyer, she started a significant media campaign – calling the opposition (majority) within the works council “yellow” trade unions. Furthermore, any employer measure against the minority group was attacked as “union busting”. I came on to the scene when one of the court proceedings – the contesting of the works council elections by that small group – took a wrong turn at the Court of Appeal. We finally succeeded at the Federal Labour Court, which made a landmark decision. In that case, I learned a lot about media campaigns and the mechanisms of good and poor journalism.

How has the labour market changed since you started practising, and how has that impacted your legal practice?

The market has evolved quickly from a traditional “dark oak lawyer world” into a modern legal service industry. As a consequence, there is always the need to show and prove (new) added value, (deeper) specialisation, quicker responses and, at the same time, the strength to keep on top of the workload so as to see the medium- and long-term consequences of advice, and to keep from crossing the line.

What aspect of your work do you enjoy the most?

I love having the chance to see so many different businesses from the inside, to spend years with them and to see them develop in part due to legal advice.

Which skills have been key to your success?

Creativity, loyalty and sincerity have been crucial for my career. Labour and employment law is people’s business. Thus, it is important to keep sustainable personal relationships with clients and their counterparts. When it comes to problem-solving, creativity is indispensable. Sometimes, it is not enough to follow the book; in these instances, new pages must be written.

How does Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek distinguish itself from the competition?

We are a partner-driven firm in all aspects. Our partners are actually advising clients, rather than just managing matters.

What is the greatest challenge faced by labour and employment specialists today?

The greatest challenge is surely to find ways to allow for agile and modern working schemes and environments – although employment laws still mainly derive from the 1960s and 1970s, and still target the traditional industrial environment with employee and employer role models that are largely outdated.

You have enjoyed a decorated career to date. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?

Having started to practise karate some years ago, I am aiming to achieve Black Belt status. Currently, I am holding the first (out of three) brown ones.

Global Leader

Labour & Employment

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Berndt Weller is a prominent figure in the German market who is described as a "go-to lawyer for collective employment law matters".

Biography

Bernd Weller is a partner in and co-head of the employment law team of Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek. As a fluent speaker in English, Italian and German, he advises our national and international clients on all labour and employment law aspects, both contentious and non-contentious. His areas of practice include, in addition to the support of transactions, the restructuring of groups of companies and operations, outsourcing, TUPE-related questions, mass dismissals, the drafting of employment contracts for all levels of employees (including board members) and data protection issues related to employment law. Bernd Weller is particularly praised for his expertise in collective labour law issues, namely works council matters, collective bargaining issues and industrial actions.

Bernd Weller studied law at the Universities of Trier, Ferrara (Italy) and Strasbourg (France). He was admitted to the Bar in 2002 and became a certified specialist for employment law in 2006.

Since then, Bernd Weller has authored numerous publications and he holds regular seminars on employment law, in particular works council issues, and trains other certified employment law specialist. Bernd Weller is a regular speaker at national and international seminars and conferences.

Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek is a partnership of about 400 lawyers, tax advisers and civil law notaries with eight offices in Germany and offices in Brussels and Zurich, making it one of the major commercial law firms in Germany. The firm’s employment practice group is very active and expanding. It consists of about 40 highly specialised lawyers covering all aspects of both national and international employment and labour law.

National Leader

Germany - Labour & Employment

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Bernd Weller is “a business-oriented and commercially minded lawyer” who wins high praise for his “ability to translate quite complicate legal content into digestible information”.

Biography

Bernd Weller is a partner in the employment law team of Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek. As a fluent speaker of English, Italian and German, he advises our national and international clients on all labour and employment law aspects, both contentious and non-contentious. His areas of practice include – in addition to the support of transactions – the restructuring of groups of companies and operations, outsourcing, TUPE-related questions, mass dismissals, the drafting of employment contracts for all levels of employees (including board members) and data protection issues related to employment law. Bernd Weller is particularly praised for his expertise in collective labour law issues, namely works council matters, collective bargaining issues and industrial actions.

Bernd Weller studied law at the universities of Trier, Ferrara (Italy) and Strasbourg (France). He was admitted to the bar in 2002 and became a certified specialist for employment law in 2006.

Since then, Bernd Weller has become an author of numerous publications and regularly holds seminars on employment law, in particular works council issues, and trains other certified employment law specialists. Bernd Weller is a regular speaker at national and international seminars and conferences.

Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek is a partnership of more than 350 lawyers, tax advisers, and civil law notaries with eight offices in Germany and offices in Brussels and Zurich, making it one of the major commercial law firms in Germany. The firm’s employment practice group is very active and expanding. It consists of about 40 highly specialised lawyers covering all aspects of both national and international employment and labour law.

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