Rebecca Runa Pinto-Noome in New York, Esmée Salomons in Amsterdam, and Pierre De Pauw in Brussels share their fresh perspectives on networking, cross-departmental collaboration, and the client.
A fresh perspective on networking.
Rebecca Runa Pinto-Noome
Partner, Corporate and M&A Practice, New York Office
"The biggest difference between working in the Netherlands and New York is the emphasis on business development. When I first came to New York in 2015 as a senior associate, I was encouraged to contact the people I had worked with on transactions and meet them in person. In other words: network at least once a week, such as meeting someone for coffee or attending a conference or social event. This experience taught me the importance of personal relations in business. When I returned to the Netherlands, I brought this knowledge with me and tried to use it on a daily basis.
Now that I'm back in New York as a partner, it is even more important for me to build good personal relationships. Elizabeth van Schilfgaarde, the managing partner of the New York office, has been here for more than 20 years and her network is very strong. Our networks complement each other because I focus on a new generation of lawyers, those who recently became partners or are on the partnership track. One funny generational difference is how we network. We don't always catch up over coffee or drinks or even at the office: a yoga class or a jog in Central Park can also be a networking opportunity."
A fresh perspective on cross-departmental collaboration.
Business Development Advisor, Amsterdam Office
"I've always been interested in the commercial side of being a lawyer and enjoy being in contact with clients. When I finished my three-year traineeship and considered the next step in my career, I knew that I wanted to focus on business development. Luckily, the firm agreed. That's why I joined the business development team. Some people didn't understand why I made the switch from legal to non-legal professional. However, for those who know me well, it was a very logical step. I get to learn an entirely new discipline in a rapidly growing field. If you look at big law firms, they are all seeking to expand their business development efforts. It's great to be involved in such a dynamic field.
The biggest change for me is that I am now an equal advisor to the partners with whom I work. Amongst other things, I help write proposals and prepare for client meetings. One day, we were asked to pitch for a client that I happened to know strongly values inclusion. I advised the team to bring a diverse team to the table and suggested starting the pitch off with a personal introduction: both of which made a big difference. I am currently the only member of my team with a background as a lawyer. This ‘insider's perspective’ allows me to shed light on the way things work in a transaction – or the way lawyers think – for my non-lawyer colleagues. Likewise, in my dealings with our lawyers, it helps that I can share insights from our non-legal professionals with them. I sometimes feel like a translator between legal and non-legal colleagues within the firm."
A fresh perspective on the client.
Pierre De Pauw
Banking and Finance Associate, Brussels Office
"Financial regulatory partner Anne Fontaine and I regularly work for Euroclear, a clearing and settlement institution headquartered in Brussels with an office in London. After the Brexit referendum, having a Belgian lawyer come to London and work with them for a few months on Brexit-related matters was extremely helpful. For me, it was a great opportunity to understand Euroclear's business better and get to know the people working there: it's always nice when you can put a face to a name.
Euroclear is a sophisticated financial institution, which means its internal organisation and functioning can be complex and more hierarchal than at a law firm. As a member of Euroclear's legal team, I worked daily with other departments, such as compliance, to make sure that all aspects of a project – legal, operational and financial – were taken into account. I found it fascinating to witness how an institution such as Euroclear works, specifically the interaction between the various departments. Of course, another big difference was the working environment: London is a fast-paced and exciting place to work.
As a lawyer from a civil law country, I found that I sometimes took a different approach than my common law colleagues at Euroclear. However, I believe that these different approaches were beneficial to the handling of the specific Brexit-related projects I worked on. I experienced first-hand the importance of truly understanding the client's business and their modus operandi. In my view, only when you have an in-depth understanding of the client's business and needs can you, as a lawyer, meet their expectations and assist them in the most efficient way possible. In short: my secondment was truly helpful for my daily work as a financial regulatory lawyer at NautaDutilh."