Directory Free Newsletter Contact Log in

European-American Topics - Business - Nadja Vietz


Nadja Vietz: Profile of an Internationally Renowned Attorney
By Megan Clark
Posted September 30, 2007

   Nadja Vietz


    The Berlin wall came down in November 1989, giving a freedom to East Germans that many had never known, including Nadja Vietz. Vietz, born in Herzberg, Germany in 1972, knew life was different in East Germany compared to other places, but for her it wasn’t as bad as many think.  

    Life in a Communist state was normal for Vietz; she hadn’t known anything different. There were obviously strict rules, but she followed them and never gave the government any problems. Others were not so fortunate. “There were people who could not go to school because their parents were not members of the party, they were religious and therefore were not allowed to do things like that,” says Vietz. She was also aware that while she was lucky enough to attend school, that in every class there was an undercover Stasi, who monitored the students every move and reported back to the government. It was just best to stay under the radar, whether it was apparent who the Stasi was or wasn’t says Vietz.

    It was reported that over 1,000 people died trying to flee East Germany during the 28-year period. There were orders to shoot anyone trying to cross the Berlin wall, including children. Vietz and her family, however, were allowed to take a plane. At the age of 7, they moved to West Africa for three years on a special exchange program with the government. Her father who worked for the University saw the opportunity to leave for a while and teach in Mali, a country whose government was supported by East Germany.   

    They eventually went back to East Germany, even though they had an opportunity to stay in France once when their travel plans were rerouted to Paris. They chose not to because they had family back in Germany and that’s what was most important to them.  

    Vietz continued her education back in Germany and was on the path to becoming an attorney. When she was 18-years-old, the Berlin wall finally came down and East Germans were allowed to cross borders. “I think I was too young to really appreciate it,” says Vietz about the historic moment. However once she realized the new opportunities available, Vietz took off to France for a year on an exchange program to study law. When she went back to Germany she took the German equivalent to the U.S. bar exam and began working at a law office. After two years, she moved to France where she met her husband, Ignasi. From there her and Ignasi moved to Spain where he is originally from. Vietz worked as a lawyer in Spain for 4 years, while Ignasi continued his work at the international office of the U.S. based company, Microsoft.  

    When Ignasi was asked to move to the Seattle area and work at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, he and Vietz packed up and headed for the Northwest. After arriving in Seattle, Vietz started to study the common law system practiced in the U.S., which is significantly different than civil law, which is commonly used in Europe. This was also when Vietz started to lean English for the first time in her life.  

    After being in Seattle for two and a half years, Vietz passed the bar exam for the state of Washington and is currently working at a law firm in Seattle. Her past experience in different countries has helped her as a U.S. attorney because she is also able to work with German and Spanish clients. The demanding career of an attorney has not gotten in the way of raising her 2-year-old, Lola, either. “You need a lot of support to balance being an attorney and a mother,” says Vietz. “My husband is really supportive.” Someday Vietz hopes to retire in Spain but it happy living and working in Seattle. “In Europe, you are judged a lot on what you’ve done and past experiences,” says Vietz. “The U.S. is more open-minded. Here you are judged on your ability and what you can do.”

© 2006 All content property of European Weekly unless where otherwise accredited