Lisa van der Wal is touted for her “brilliant reputation for corporate defence” and “excellent attention to detail” as well as her “top-notch legal insights”.
Lisa has extensive experience in providing legal aid in large and complex (international) fraud cases. The fraud cases in which she acts as a defence lawyer relate to money laundering, confiscation of proceeds of crime, forgery of documents, fiscal fraud, corruption and financial fraud. Lisa also advises about criminal liability with regard to these topics. She represents companies, directors, shareholders and employees, as well as (employees) of financial institutions and trust offices, accountants and tax advisers.
What do you enjoy most about practising business crime defence?
Representing diverse clients who work in various businesses is one of the interesting factors of working in the white-collar crime area. White-collar crime clients tend to be astute and actively involved in the defence. In combination with the complexity of the cases, this creates a demanding environment which requires specific skills in representing these clients. Getting to know and understand the client’s business is not only key for providing the best possible representation, but is also very interesting as you come across business fields you were previously not familiar with. Furthermore, I enjoy working together constructively with other specialists such as civil lawyers and fiscal and financial experts.
What developments in your jurisdictions should foreign practitioners be following and why?
The Dutch Prosecution Services have advanced plans to prescribe guidelines for the quality and scope of internal investigations into misconduct within companies, if that investigation is to be used in a settlement procedure. It is important for foreign practitioners to monitor whether the part of the investigation that is taking place in the Netherlands will meet these standards if the Dutch authorities are expected to assert jurisdiction over any such misconduct.
What new types of fraud are you seeing emerge and develop during the covid-19 pandemic? How are you ensuring that you and your clients are well equipped to tackle them?
Due to many people working from home and e-mail being the go-to communication service for most people, we are seeing a strong upsurge in CEO-fraud, in both numbers and sophistication. We advise our clients to implement internal regulations that either a secure communications channel must be used for important (financial) instructions, or that (financial) instructions that deviate from usual business practice are always confirmed by a short video call with the person giving the instruction. Due to the ever more convincing deepfake technology, such video call must be made using the known contact details of the person giving the instruction.
What impact has technological innovation had on the nature of corporate crime cases you have been seeing?
The circumstance that many firms are now working in a shared cloud, to which many employees have near-unlimited access, had made data theft and corporate espionage more common. It is very important that a shared cloud always has user-action traceability, and that any employee login authorisations are restricted to what the employee needs to properly fulfil his or her function, and that login authorisations are further restricted before an employee is informed he or she will be released.
In what direction would you like to steer your practice in the next five years?
I would like to continue my practice as it is as I enjoy the complexity of the cases and the intellectual and strategic challenges that come with representing and defending corporations and individuals in the high-stress situation of a criminal investigation. However, I would like to further build on a reputation as a trusted adviser for my clients. Clients are more and more in need of a trusted legal adviser who is hands-on and grasps their aims and priorities. There is a need for practical translation and guidance on how to implement complex legal advice.
What can younger lawyers be doing to establish themselves in the business crime defence?
Become an expert in your field, work hard to get the best result for your client. Make sure that people know you and know about your expertise. Build a network, not only within your own generation but also with more experienced professionals and expand your network to lawyers that have a different expertise and people outside the legal community.
What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
Being encouraged to become a partner. Being an associate in my former firm I really didn’t feel the need to become a partner as I was of the opinion that I should have a thriving and successful practice of my own and everything had to be perfect before I could become a partner. The partners in my former firm convinced me and encouraged me to have faith and trust in my own capacities and I just went for it. In hindsight I do not understand the reluctancy to become partner, but it shows how important it is to work with people who encourage and stimulate their colleagues.