Women's Leadership InitiativeQ&A with Katja Garvey

Katja Garvey is an attorney in the firm's Columbus office focusing her practice in privacy matters and international business and trade. As a German native, Katja brings a unique perspective on matters ranging from complex international transactions to global privacy compliance. Her experience and counsel bridge the gap that often exists from a legal and cultural perspective.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

Having active and involved mentors, or better yet, a Board of Mentors (inspired by this article), has been crucial to my professional success right from the beginning of law school in Germany. My official and unofficial mentors throughout law school and beyond have always been involved in any major professional decisions. From choosing an internship at the European Patent Office in Munich to guiding me through the Ohio bar application process and finding my first position as an attorney in Columbus, as well as my subsequent transition to Porter Wright, my mentors have been right at my side.

Several of my mentors have become friends now, and an interesting trend has been the fact that I was able to find and connect with colleagues and mentors in the most random situations. I’ve met mentors during law school organized mentoring events and random match-ups. I connected with a professional during my character and fitness interview and had mentors assigned to me as an associate by my firm or through the Supreme Court Lawyer-to-Lawyer Mentoring program. Consulting with my mentors has been invaluable in making professional decisions or dealing with challenging situations at work, with clients, colleagues or substantive legal issues.

What advice would you give to women just starting out at a law firm?

In my experience, and in addition to excellent work product, it is crucial to be proactive and connect with your colleagues and establish informal mentoring relationships within the firm as well as outside of the firm. Internal networking and creating work streams are essential for a successful legal practice.

How has your life experience helped you get to where you are today?

All of my experiences traveling internationally and for my studies, and now making my home with my family in the U.S., led me to an international career path. It has always been a passion of mine to make connections or bridge cultural or language divides. This led me to the obvious choice of pursuing international business law and assisting others in bridging the gap between legal systems. Based on my professional and personal experiences, I feel a special connection to the issues facing many of my clients.

Complete the sentence: “If I wasn’t an attorney, I would be a…”

Travel agent/travel blogger. I have always loved to travel which was engrained in me by my parents, who took me to Israel when I was two and all over Europe, North America and southern Africa (Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia) as a kid. As a teenager, I participated in a three month high school exchange with a school in Adelaide, South Australia, went on several trips to Thailand and did a work and travel experience in Australia for several months after graduating from high school. Exploring different countries, meeting new people and learning about their culture has always fascinated me and to some extent led me to move to the US, first as an exchange student to Capital Law School in Columbus, Ohio in 2007 and then again (and more permanently) in 2011 to pursue my LL.M. degree in business law at The Ohio State University – Moritz College of Law. I am hoping to instill this passion of travel in my three daughters as well, which is one of the many reasons we take them to Germany at least once a year and started doing so when they were babies. Actually, I am in Germany right now as I write this article.