After 45 years of providing practical legal advice in law firms from 10 to 800 lawyers and from Pittsburgh to Frankfurt to New York, I am now a sole practitioner, an "Einzelkaempfer", the Germans say.

Since 1979, I have advised foreign businessmen, primarily from German-speaking countries but also from Israel, South Africa and India. The trick is to know that not everyone's legal system is like ours and to know the questions clients SHOULD ask, not just the ones they do. Also, it is not enough to have the right answer. One also has to present it in practical terms, ones which permit the client to implement it.

I frequently assist in the purchase and sale of companies in the United States, both stock and assets, forming companies and joint ventures, and establishing distributorships and sales agencies. But I have also helped recovering lost assets, negotiating commercial leases, purchasing and selling shopping centers, closing failing companies without resorting to bankruptcy, selling general partnership interests so as to end the partner's liability, and analyzing and settling contract disputes. An extensive list of projects is included.

My experience includes 26 years with Walter, Conston - the leading boutique for German-speaking businesses - and its successor, 7 years with a regional business law firm,  and 8 years with Eaton & Van Winkle.

My clients reflect the changing European economy. They have included large and small pharmaceutical and chemical companies, precision machinery manufacturers, an optics company, a steel galvanizing company, an auto testing company, real estate developers, and an atomic energy parastatal, but also publishing companies, a leading printer of currencies, software companies and internet start-ups. Usually M&A sellers are family-owned businesses, but they have also been publicly-held conglomerates selling off a product line. The size ranges from $10.00 (a failing company sold to its management) to $100 million (a line of business with assets in 13 time zones). Don't assume your project is too small.

European Influence

Unlike most US lawyers, because of my extensive experience as a lawyer in Germany and working for European clients, I understand what they expect from their attorneys, including when the invoice arrives. They (rightly) fear conference calls with 5 lawyers on the call and bills with services by unknown "time keepers." My German won't be mistaken for native, but I negotiate "auf Deutsch" and know the parts of a balance sheet, different types of ball bearings and three types of metal parts fabricating.


I have written extensively for the European audience. These articles are intended to give practical advice that readers can implement themselves, not as advertising for further legal services. Topics include the dangers of granting rights of first refusal and waiving damage claims, the importance of schedules in M&A contracts, the role of title insurance in real estate transactions, and the difference between the Vorstand and officers of an American corporation.



Rudolph Houck

5023 Frew Street, 7A

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213

914 434 1710