Judith Seddon
Office:
60 Ludgate Hill
EC4M 7AW
City:
London
Country:
England

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Investigations

Judith is a partner in Ropes & Gray’s award-winning global litigation and enforcement practice and co-leads the London investigations practice. Judith specialises in national and international white-collar crime, fraud, corruption and regulatory and criminal investigations and prosecutions. She has deep experience and expertise in advising corporates, financial institutions and individuals in internal investigations and when facing complex investigations and prosecutions. She has worked on some of the most complex and high-profile investigations and prosecutions.

WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO SPECIALISE IN INVESTIGATIONS?

As a teenager I became interested in ethical issues, human rights and discrimination law, cementing my decision to study law at university. I wanted to represent people who were facing the most difficult issues in their lives – where their liberty was often at stake. I put my interest in individuals’ rights into practice at a UK firm representing trade union members. 

After my second maternity leave, I needed a new challenge. The UK Bribery Act was approaching, triggering renewed focus on white-collar crime and this seemed like the perfect time for me to make a move. The result was a move to a Magic Circle firm where I brought a white-collar crime angle to their well-established financial services regulatory and investigations practice. 

WHAT DO CLIENTS LOOK FOR IN AN EFFECTIVE INVESTIGATIONS LAWYER?

Apart from understanding the legal and regulatory landscape, a prerequisite of any investigations lawyer, clients seek clear, practical advice and strategic guidance, someone who understands and anticipates the specific challenges they face or may face, internally and externally, throughout the investigation. Additionally, clients want a lawyer who is calm, approachable and able to empathise with their situation. 

HOW DOES PRIVILEGE AFFECT YOUR INVESTIGATIONS WORK? HOW COULD THE UPCOMING APPEAL IN SFO V ENRC CHANGE THIS?

Investigations work requires fact-gathering, which often means speaking to third parties and, for companies, employees or former employees. While a company is entitled to assert privilege over its communications with its lawyers, the question arises: who is the company? This has been narrowly interpreted in our jurisdiction such that employees and former employees are now unlikely to be regarded as the company for the purpose of legal advice privilege (despite the information held by them may be necessary for advising the company). Furthermore, the ability to assert litigation privilege when conducting internal investigations, particularly against the backdrop of a criminal investigation, has been severely limited because of Mrs Justice Andrew’s first instance decision in ENRC. Unless the Court of Appeal overturns that decision, companies may choose not to conduct internal investigations into potential wrongdoing or may conduct more limited internal investigations, which is likely to be contrary to what law enforcement agencies are seeking to achieve.

YOU RECENTLY JOINED ROPES & GRAY AS CO-LEADER OF THE FIRM’S ANTI-CORRUPTION AND INTERNATIONAL RISK TEAM. WHAT ARE YOUR MAIN PRIORITIES FOR THE PRACTICE GROUP’S DEVELOPMENT IN OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS?

Ropes & Gray is growing fast, investing heavily in local and global talent. The anti-corruption and international risk team is relatively new to London; our first partner arrived here in 2014 from New York, four years after the office opened. Since then, the team has grown to 14 (including two partners) with more expected.

We are rare in having dual-qualified lawyers here, able to deal with regulators on both sides of the Atlantic. Clients appreciate our genuinely joined-up global approach.

Our priorities are continued growth in the work, the team and our reputation in London. We have an enviable client base, which we seek to build upon.
 In doing so, we aim to maintain our globally integrated approach, to better service our clients wherever needed.

We aim to be a respected thought-leader firm and a leading voice in new, emerging areas of law, defining innovative ways of responding to the challenges clients face. Currently, we are undertaking extensive work and research into how an understanding of behavioural sciences assists in risk management.

HOW DOES ROPES & GRAY DISTINGUISH ITSELF FROM THE COMPETITION?

With Amanda Raad (who is dual US- and UK-qualified) and me co-leading the London practice, we work with clients to manage and navigate the competing dynamics at play in global investigations. The globalisation of investigations and greater collaboration between agencies (as well as the challenges that conflicts of laws present), makes this combination a great advantage.

Additionally, both Amanda and I are experienced in representing corporates and individuals giving us a broad perspective on these global issues.

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT THE MAJOR TRENDS IN INVESTIGATIONS TO BE IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

I expect continued focus on privilege, particularly perhaps from the individual defendant’s perspective, where material is generated from internal investigations. I also expect continued focus by regulators on culture and behaviour.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE STARTING OUT IN THE AREA?

Read The Practitioner’s Guide to Global Investigations, which I co-edit! It offers practical guidance on every aspect of cross-border investigations, from the company and individuals’ perspectives across jurisdictions. This is a fast-moving area of law so it’s critical to keep abreast of developments and learn from fellow practitioners.

Finally, I have said before that my advice to my younger self would be to do one brave thing every day – step out of your comfort zone. As an investigations lawyer, there will doubtless be times when you will be out of your comfort zone because issues arise which you have not come across before. These are moments not to be feared but embraced – in solving them, your comfort zone will widen and your confidence in dealing with issues will grow. 

Practice Areas:

Follow us on LinkedIn

Practice Areas

Firms

Browse Firms

Search Firms

The Who's Who Legal 100

Awards

News & Features

Special Reports

Events

Shop

About Us

It is not possible to buy entry into any Who's Who Legal publication

Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

Copyright © 2018 Law Business Research Ltd. All rights reserved. | http://www.lbresearch.com

87 Lancaster Road, London, W11 1QQ, UK | Tel: +44 20 7908 1180 / Fax: +44 207 229 6910

http://www.whoswholegal.com | editorial@whoswholegal.com

Law Business Research Ltd

87 Lancaster Road, London
W11 1QQ, UK