The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.
Paula Anderson, Partner — Litigation
Paula Anderson is a partner in Shearman & Sterling LLP’s Litigation practice. Her experience is broad, with an international focus, and encompasses a wide range of areas, including internal and government investigations, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) and global anti-corruption compliance, cross-border litigation, bankruptcy litigation, antitrust, M&A-related litigation, and international arbitration.
Her clients include global leaders in the finance, technology, insurance, automotive, telecommunications, oil and gas, engineering, media and entertainment, consumer goods, health care, and manufacturing industries.
Paula received a J.D. from Harvard Law School and an undergraduate degree, summa cum laude, from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where she was class valedictorian.
Describe your practice area and what it entails.
I’m a litigator by training, but when people ask me to describe my practice, I sum it up this way: I help large multinational companies operating in various high-risk jurisdictions across the world fight corruption and create a culture of compliance.
A large part of my practice is anti-corruption compliance, which includes internal investigations into allegations of potential violations of anti-corruption laws. I also assist companies in responding to government investigations and advise companies on anti-corruption risks involved in expanding into new markets, particularly emerging markets. I also assist companies with transactional due diligence, advising on corruption risks associated with potential targets and helping them devise plans to mitigate those risks, both from a compliance and operational standpoint. The other part of my practice is civil litigation—including shareholder class action lawsuits, complex commercial litigation, and cross-border disputes.
What types of clients do you represent?
My clients are predominantly large, multinational companies operating in various markets around the globe. We represent companies who are leaders in a number of different industries, including media, technology, pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, mining, finance, food and beverage, and consumer goods. I also represent individual directors and officers under investigation for potential FCPA violations, and in shareholder lawsuits when they are accused of breaches of their fiduciary duties.
What types of cases/deals do you work on?
Some of my most notable cases include representing (i) Synthes, Inc. in a shareholder class action challenging the company’s $20 billion acquisition by Johnson & Johnson, (ii) the former CEO and General Counsel of a foreign subsidiary of a major multinational company in connection with a global FCPA investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), and (iii) Liberty Global, Inc. in a shareholder class action challenging its $23 billion acquisition of Virgin Media Inc. In addition, our firm was appointed as an independent Foreign Corruption Practices Act (“FCPA”) compliance monitor for Baker Hughes, as well as for York International, as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with the DOJ and SEC following charges for FCPA violations. I led teams in multiple countries across the world for both of these monitorships, collecting and reviewing documents, interviewing witnesses, conducting forensic accounting analyses, and reporting to the DOJ and SEC on our findings.
How did you choose this practice area?
International law has always intrigued me. I was born and raised in Barbados, and my parents immigrated to the U.S. when I was two years old. I chose Shearman & Sterling because of the firm’s global footprint and the opportunity to work with international clients and on international matters. I started off at the firm as a junior associate working on international arbitration matters. As a mid-level associate, I started to do more work in the compliance and FCPA space. Today, I continue to help clients navigate the provisions of the FCPA and work with different regulators and enforcement authorities in the U.S. and around the world.
What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?
A lot of my work involves traveling to conduct interviews on the ground in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America. When I’m not traveling, I spend much of my time reviewing and editing interview memos, preparing investigation reports for company boards and management, interacting with regulators, drafting and editing briefs, working with financial and forensic accounting experts, and appearing in court on behalf of my clients.
I’m also the relationship partner for a number of the firm’s key clients. In addition, I’m the associate development partner at the firm responsible for initiatives like trainings and mentoring programs to support the career development of our associates. I also sit on the Recruiting Committee and am actively involved in our inclusion networks and related initiatives.
Additionally, I do a lot of pro bono work in the international arena. Every year, I conduct trial advocacy trainings in East Africa in partnership with a nonprofit organization called Lawyers Without Borders (“LWOB”). We team up with LWOB to lead advocacy trainings for prosecutors, judges, and law enforcement personnel in those jurisdictions, focused on prosecuting cases of human and wildlife trafficking. I conduct similar training for prosecutors at the International Criminal Court, focused on prosecuting war crimes and crimes against humanity. These are just a couple of examples of the breadth of our pro bono practice. Lawyers across our 23 offices completed more than 40,000 hours of pro bono work in 2019.
What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?
I would advise any law student who is interested in working on FCPA matters to take an international law class focusing on anti-corruption. I also recommend taking business courses and classes in forensic accounting. It’s important in this field to understand our clients’ businesses so that our advice takes into account practical business considerations. We also need to be knowledgeable about current world events and the socioeconomic climate of the various jurisdictions in which these matters arise. It’s essential to have the proper context to evaluate the information we uncover in the investigations and interviews so that we can most effectively advise our clients.
What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?
Perhaps the most challenging aspect is working in different time zones. When I’m traveling for investigations, it’s often to the other side of the world, and when my day ends there, it’s just beginning in the U.S. There’s also the aspect of being on the road a lot and being away from your family and kids. So, when they are not in school and it’s feasible to do so, I try to take my children with me on some of my trips. At just three months old, my son traveled with me to London, and by five, he had already traveled with me on work trips to Amsterdam, South Africa, and Tanzania.
What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?
The junior lawyers on my team are involved in every aspect of our investigations. They’re the key fact-finders, so they conduct a focused review of the documents to follow the narrative and the money. They work to figure out who was involved and what really took place. The junior lawyers also help put together our witness kits for witness interviews, draft witness outlines, attend interviews, prepare witness interview memos, and draft reports for clients. For example, one of our first-year associates accompanied me on a trip to Turkey for an investigation for a major multi-national company. This associate did all the document review prior to the trip, prepared the witness kits, drafted outlines, and attended and participated in the interviews. I’ve also had summer associates accompany me on investigations in India and Brazil.
How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?
As anti-corruption enforcement expands outside of the U.S., I see the practice becoming even more global. In recent years, we’ve seen more enforcement efforts by the U.S., along with a lot more cooperation between the U.S. authorities and foreign authorities in launching investigations. The resolutions of these cases have also become global in nature. As a practitioner, it’s now imperative to know and understand foreign anti-corruption laws and to be familiar with enforcement authorities outside of the U.S.
How can lawyers develop greater cultural intelligence in dealing with international transactions and matters?
You have to experience different cultures out there in the field. There is simply no substitute for real-world, on-the-ground experience. You also need to stay current with world events and understand the global economy. It is also helpful to read relevant industry publications and to join a bar association committee that is focused on international law matters.
When we are advising clients looking to expand their operations into new geographic markets, we need to advise not just on the legal aspects. We need to consider the sociopolitical landscape and what trends and developments we see happening in those regions. It’s extremely important to be knowledgeable about these things, so that we can provide a comprehensive, 360-degree perspective for our clients.