Stephen Pollard
Firm:
Office:
49 Park Lane
W1K 1PS
City:
London
Country:
England
Tel:
+44 20 7872 1006
Fax:
+44 20 7839 3537

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Investigations

Stephen Pollard is a seasoned litigator with more than 30 years of experience on the full spectrum of business crime and securities enforcement work. He is currently representing a number of individuals in the SFO/DOJ LIBOR and FX investigations, and in a number of DOJ/SEC investigations into alleged corruption. He also has clients in the current SFO investigations into Alstom, ENRC, Serco and G4S, Rolls Royce, GSK, and various companies connected to the Unaoil investigation. He is involved in a number of internal investigations for corporate clients, most recently for WPP.

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO SPECIALISE IN CORPORATE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS?

The opportunity to combine all the skills of a criminal defence lawyer with those of an investigator, in a rapidly developing and maturing market.

WHAT SKILLS DOES A GOOD INVESTIGATIONS LAWYER NEED?

Each good investigations lawyer will inevitably have his or her own unique skill set but it strikes me that there are two key skills common to the very best lawyers.

The first is the ability to see the bigger strategic picture  – that is, for example, to recognise that matters that are currently confidential may become publicly known; that communications benefiting from legal professional privilege may ultimately be disclosed; and that what starts out as an internal HR issue may subsequently take on a regulatory or criminal aspect.

The second is the ability to remain calm and composed under pressure, particularly at the outset of an investigation when the client’s instinct is often to pursue a strategy of action at all costs. Time taken in the early stages of an investigation to stand back, take stock, and determine the scope and intended outcome of the investigation pays a handsome dividend as the investigation progresses.

HOW HAS THE INVESTIGATIONS FIELD CHANGED OVER THE COURSE OF YOUR CAREER?

There are more of them and they keep getting bigger! In the past 10 years, the UK legal market has adopted wholesale the US concept of a multi-jurisdictional internal investigation led by external counsel against a backdrop of increasingly aggressive regulatory and prosecutorial enforcement. Similarly, we are also now seeing in the UK the establishment of a US-style “revolving door” between private practice and government agencies in the investigations field. Only time will tell whether this proves to be a mutually beneficial development.

TO WHAT EXTENT IS TECHNOLOGY REVOLUTIONISING THE PRACTICE AREA?

To no greater extent than in the rest of the legal industry. Those process tasks within an investigation, historically performed by paralegals and junior lawyers, such as document, privilege and privacy review are likely to become fully automated in the short to medium term. The key strategic decisions during an investigation, that demand experience and judgement – such as whether, when and what to self-report and whether to cooperate with government agencies – will continue to be made by human beings.

ARE THERE ANY JURISDICTIONS OR INDUSTRIES THAT ARE PARTICULARLY ACTIVE FOR INVESTIGATIONS WORK AT THE MOMENT?

The US, the UK and continental Europe continue to be three particularly active jurisdictions. Though the underlying activity of many investigations touches on other global jurisdictions, current experience suggests that the great majority of instructions continue to flow from clients domiciled in these three jurisdictions.

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO BE THE MAIN CHALLENGES FACING PRACTITIONERS OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

Harnessing and making effective use of big data and engineering the successful global resolutions of multi-jurisdictional investigations.

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE THE GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE?

I have the common worry that one day I will be rumbled and never instructed again! So I suppose not having been rumbled yet after more than 30 years in practice has to be up there.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNGER LAWYERS LOOKING TO START OUT IN THE SPACE?

Take all the opportunities that present themselves to work with and learn from as many different professionals as possible, not just other lawyers. During the course of an investigation, younger lawyers will encounter a broad range of fellow professionals, including accountants, auditors, digital forensic experts, lawyers in foreign jurisdictions, government investigators and prosecutors, subject matter experts and document review specialists. Each encounter presents an opportunity to learn something new that can be used to achieve the best outcome for the client on the next investigation. Every contact is an opportunity to impress, and expanding the number of professional acquaintances who think highly of your ability is the way to build a thriving practice.

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