As a lawyer, you aren’t just a business owner yourself. You primarily represent the rights of small and medium-sized enterprises. Where does this focus come from?
My own background is in the middle class, a family business. My mother was the second-generation owner of a hairdressing business. That’s where I went after school, I spent my day at the hair salon. I was also part of the business: sweeping up the hair, cleaning the curlers. That’s why I got to know life in a family business from the ground up. My father has had a business as a tax advisor since 1980. His focus has always been on small and medium-sized enterprises. Hence my closeness. I like working with small organisations and personal contacts. One experiences that the well-being or otherwise of the company depends on the personality of the business owner. The whole family pulls together. That’s my thing.
Which legal issues do SMEs face the most? For what reasons do SME representatives turn to you most often?
In my office we mainly serve medium-sized and family businesses. As a lawyer, I’m first and foremost a consultant. Usually this is a “lifetime mandate”: It begins with supporting the companies, with their establishment and ends with their liquidation, with company succession, with arrangements when the managing director or the owner dies. The main focus is on questions of company and contractual law, but we also handle cases of a managing director jumping a red light. Or his daughter is getting a divorce. You are the one to turn to for everything. You live with the family of the business owner, so to speak.
You once invested in the restaurant business. How did that come about?
(Laughs) That was an adventure. It actually is the wish of many people who enjoy good food to run their own restaurant, which they can then set up as they have always wanted. My involvement was a coincidence. I happened to come across a property that once had a restaurant and at the same time I met a chef who had to leave his former restaurant. After a few glasses of wine one night, we said: “Come on, let’s do it together.” We started with great verve and enthusiasm. After a while, however, I realised that I couldn’t really take care of it and give input because my time simply didn’t allow it. If you’re not always actively involved in something like this, make adjustments, always check that everything is in order, then nothing happens. After a year, I withdrew.