Partner Jessica Parker is highlighted in this year’s Who’s Who Legal Thought Leaders – Global Elite 2019. Read the full Q&A below:
What motivated you to pursue a career in investigations?
As a criminal and regulatory lawyer, I have observed the progress of a wide range of state investigations. As the investigations market has grown in the UK it has been interesting to put this experience to use through advising across the life cycle of an investigation from the discovery of an issue through to resolution or, where necessary, trial.
What did you find most challenging about starting out in the field?
Every investigation brings new challenges. No two cases are the same and there is something to learn from each new industry, from the dynamics between the stakeholders within the business and about the law and practice in the various jurisdictions involved.
Has the focus of your work changed in the past few years?
If so, how?
The availability of deferred prosecution agreements in 2014 has revolutionised investigations practice in the UK. The regime is still relatively new and so practitioners face a degree of uncertainty about how investigations will be received by the SFO. Individuals caught up in investigations, especially regulated professionals, face challenges from multiple investigators in multiple jurisdictions.
What trends are you noticing in the legal market at the moment?
It is a very busy time in the investigations market. There is a lot of movement and many new teams are being established, which reflects the increased risk to businesses of a criminal investigation in relation to “failure to prevent” offences such as those introduced by the Bribery Act 2010 and the Criminal Finances Act 2017.
There are upcoming changes to the management of the Serious Fraud Office in the UK. How do you expect these changes to impact the investigations field?
David Green QC, the former director of the SFO, oversaw a profound change in the profile of cases taken on by the SFO. A number of factors led to this change, including the availability of DPAs and the legislation referred to above. In an amended Statement of Principle in 2012, he pledged that the SFO would focus on cases that had an impact on UK PLC commercial interests, and this has seen investigations and prosecutions of more challenging and complicated subject matter. Lisa Osofsky takes up the post at the end of August and it will be interesting to see whether she will pursue similar objectives. It is anticipated that she will look at ways of continuing the work that the SFO have done with AI in an effort to streamline and speed up investigations.
What has been your greatest achievement to date?
It does not make for a very good interview response, but I am happy to say that my greatest achievements to date are those cases that have never made it into the public domain.
What advice would you give to a younger practitioner hoping to excel in this field?
I would encourage a younger lawyer to find out about the practice of investigations in different jurisdictions. You never know where the next case is going to take you and it’s important to know that accepted and lawful practice in one jurisdiction may be at best controversial, at worst unlawful in another. If your firm is not part of an international network it is important to make international contacts so that you know who to call on.
The Q&A in Who’s Who Legal is also available here.