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29 Jun 2018

Jessica Parker in GIR’s Women in Investigations 2018

Corker Binning is pleased to announce that Partner Jessica Parker is featured in GIR’s 2018 Women in Investigations survey, which highlights 100 female practitioners from across the globe.

The special shines a light on the wide variety of talented women – from government enforcers to the next generation of investigators – that form part of the worldwide investigations community. Through an open nomination process and lengthy deliberation, GIR has chosen a list of 100 female lawyers that we think readers should get to know.

Within the survey are profiles from outstanding female lawyers from 15 countries. Representing private practice are 64 partners; 11 associates; and seven counsel.

Below is Jessica Parker’s profile for the Women in Investigations 2018, which can also be accessed via GIR here.

I trained in an international commercial practice and switched to crime on qualification. The transition from acting for corporates in financings and commercial litigation to representing individuals in cases from assault to tax fraud was something of a culture shock.

Corker Binning is a boutique that has always had a strong reputation in financial crime cases. From this vantage point, we have seen the focus of our work transform following the development of the practice of internal investigations, predominantly precipitated by the introduction of the 2010 Bribery Act. We now spend most of our time working alongside larger firms, looking after their client’s executives, or independently for small and medium-sized enterprises, through the life of an investigation.

I don’t wish to highlight any client in particular, but the work I find most rewarding is helping clients through the unfamiliar process of negotiating an internal investigation alongside an active regulatory or criminal investigation. A delicate hand is required to satisfy the different and competing interests of different stakeholders, and it is very pleasing when the right outcome is achieved on all fronts.

Overall, the biggest opportunity that I have had is to work at a firm with a very strong team ethos. Between us, we have worked on many of the leading investigations of the day and there is a strong commitment to sharing and learning from those experiences.

Experience from a plethora of state investigations from HM Revenue and Customs to the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO), and all in between, has given me an insight into many different investigation styles. Police officers are often the best interviewers and I have seen some great examples of patient, persistent and effective probing. It is easy to fall into the trap of slavishly following an interview script, accepting an account about a specialist area you are unfamiliar with or taking an answer at face value. In pursuing a line of questioning and unpicking jargon, you are better able to challenge. Interviewees who are confident about their account will not be offended by the probing, and the evidence they give will be more robust.

I wouldn’t say that I proactively seek to improve my practice outside of work. I try to switch off but inevitably, when a particularly difficult issue has arisen on a case, the solution to the problem will often present itself when I’m sitting on a train or out for a run.

There are a number of issues in investigations at the moment. Last year’s ENRCjudgment, which suggested that an internal investigation was not privileged because the company’s lawyers sought a non-prosecution outcome and therefore were not anticipating litigation, sent shockwaves through London’s investigations market. However, the subsequent case of Bilta (UK) v RBS appears to confirm the view that ENRC is restricted to its facts.

The end of David Green QC’s tenure as director of the SFO is also of great interest. Will the new director continue the aggressive agenda of investigating those who damage the reputation of UK public limited companies regardless of their size or the complexity of the subject matter?

Training, mentoring and coaching programmes can do so much. But ultimately, critical mass is important. I agree with the goals of the 30% club and believe that targets are important. It is important for law firm management to recognise that if they are failing in diversity the problem is not with “the talent pipeline” but with them. The concern that targets lead to the selection of women over better qualified or experienced men assumes that formal and informal selection processes are entirely free of bias, subconscious or otherwise. 

I am not a lucky traveller. I have been besieged for several weeks in a small town in Bolivia, evacuated by the military following civil unrest in Lombok, Indonesia, and suffered multiple fractures following road traffic accidents in Australia and Cuba (before you ask, I was not the driver in either case!). I am always willing to hop on a plane for a client but may not be insured to do so once this is published.

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