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Overview

There is not truly one area of practice that would be encapsulated by the term “international law.” American lawyers who practice internationally can practice in myriad and varied areas. International trade lawyers help facilitate the movement of goods across borders and import-export laws, international treaties, and the litigation before the International Court of Trade. Project finance lawyers often focus on funding projects in one or more international markets, including Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Oil and gas attorneys are often involved in deals with or in oil-producing countries. Litigators who want to practice international law can focus on the growing area of international arbitration. An M&A attorney may have significant expertise in international transactions, an IP attorney may deal with protecting intellectual property assets in other territories, a bankruptcy attorney may deal with the various national laws that touch on the insolvency of a multinational corporation. What ties these disparate areas together is that they are often practices in the largest international firms, involve lawyers of various nationalities, and attract lawyers who like to travel and have expertise in geographic regions or languages. Some firms also have practices focused on specific regions outside of the U.S. Those following a nonprofit path may find legal positions with organizations that address global issues.

Featured Q&A's
Get an insider's view on working in International from real lawyers in the practice area.
Seth Kerschner, Partner
White & Case LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

White & Case’s Environment & Climate Change practice includes approximately 80 lawyers globally. We handle some of the world’s largest and most sophisticated matters requiring the resolution of complex environmental issues. Clients look to us because of our technical knowledge of environmental laws, our creative and commercial savviness in allocating environmental risks in transactions, and the expertise that we can draw on from our colleagues practicing environmental law in Europe, Asia-Pacific, Australia, and Latin America. We offer advice and counsel in connection with compliance issues, transactions, and disputes concerning environmental requirements and potential environmental damages. Our practice advises on a gamut of environmental laws from local remediation programs to national environmental policy regulations to international climate change treaties. 

Climate change issues continue to play an increasingly central role in our work on cross-border transactions and our advising of global clients on the environmental regulations relevant to their operations. For instance, our Renewable Energy practice continues to remain very active as clients look for our help in developing and financing renewable energy projects in order to meet greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals.

On international climate change work specifically, I counseled a foreign government in connection with its climate change treaty negotiations between 2014 and 2018. This involved providing real-time guidance and advice to the client’s negotiating team before, during, and after the negotiating sessions that led to the Paris Agreement to the UNFCCC in December 2015. More recently, I’ve provided guidance and advice to a client in the context of the meetings of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement. This type of work involves assisting the client in developing and refining its negotiating strategy and providing specific advice and preparing memos and other guidance documents based on my knowledge of, and experience with, other global environmental treaties.

From local storm water permitting regimes that are now considering spill prevention requirements to address sea level rise risks to the way in which the key changes in Equator Principles 4 relate to climate change, we are seeing an uptick in climate change-related questions and issues across our practice areas. Generally, climate change regulatory questions arise in the steady flow of environmental questions that we handle in many of the jurisdictions in which we practice. Historically, the international climate change treaty negotiations that led to the Paris Agreement and the subsequent development implementation of the Agreement’s rules kept us the busiest. More recently, we are seeing clients with assets in coastal jurisdictions or jurisdictions with greater risks associated with severe weather events. Also, climate change litigation keeps us very active. Climate change is an inherently international environmental challenge. Rather than being busy in particular countries, we are busiest on complex cross-border matters that involve climate change.

What types of clients do you represent?

My practice involves work with public and private companies, governments, and nonprofit organizations. Many of my clients are public or private companies that operate industrial or energy facilities. These are clients who are in the chemicals, pharmaceutical, petrochemical, oil storage, transportation, refining, mining, wind power, or solar power sectors, for example. I also represent governments and nonprofits.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

The cases I work on typically involve the clean-up of contaminated sites; compliance with environmental laws, rights, and obligations under environmental contractual indemnities; and, more recently, climate change. Superfund litigation and Clean Water Act litigation has been an area of focus historically. For example, I am representing a large multinational enterprise in one of the largest Superfund litigation matters in the U.S., the Lower Passaic River site. I typically work on deals that require the resolution of exceptionally complex environmental issues. I am increasingly doing more work on renewable energy deals, including on deals hinging on the conversion of fossil fuel sites to renewable energy sites. I also advise on projects involving sustainability frameworks, such as the Climate Bonds Initiative, the Poseidon Principles, the Equator Principles, the IFC Performance Standards, and other environmental standards of multilateral development banks.

How did you choose this practice area?

I’ve always been fascinated with how humans impact the physical environment and related issues associated with overpopulation, pollution, and deforestation. I studied history and urban planning as an undergraduate, and then I thought I would focus more on real estate and brownfields redevelopment after law school. However, I graduated law school and started practicing right around the same time that the real estate market in New York and the country started to crash. So there wasn’t much of a market for brownfields-related real estate work at that time. Luckily, I was able to become more of an environmental law generalist looking at some of the issues I am fascinated with on a global scale at a global law firm. And I am very happy that things turned out that way.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

I read a lot, write a lot, and spend a lot of time talking on the phone. Environmental law, especially, involves reading hundreds (if not thousands) of pages a day that can sometimes be quite technical. A lot of what I do involves trying to apply that technical information to the law and explain to clients or other decision-makers what the outcome is when you apply the law.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Environmental law is always changing. So I spend a lot of time each day reading about developments in cases or regulatory changes being proposed or implemented by different government entities, for example. I think it is very important to keep up with these constant changes. Attention to detail is also critically important. So I recommend that someone who wishes to enter this practice area develop the skills needed to be thorough.

What do you like best about your practice area?

I like the variety. I work with many different clients and many different White & Case colleagues across regions and focus areas. For example, I might spend my morning working with energy lawyers, tax lawyers, and a client focused on the conversion of a fossil fuel-fired power plant into a solar plant here on the east coast of the U.S. Then, later in the morning, I may work with regulatory law colleagues in Brussels and a paint manufacturer on issues related to product registrations. I might spend some time in the afternoon working on a dispute involving contaminated land on the west coast of the U.S. and also working with a Japanese energy company on how to prevent and tackle oil spills while conducting deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. And, I may spend my evening working with M&A lawyers in Asia assisting an Indian client looking to acquire pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities in the U.S.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

Many environmental attorneys focus exclusively on litigation, regulatory work, or deal work. I think it is possible to be an environmental lawyer that handles it all—environmental litigation, environmental regulatory counseling, and environmental issues in transactions.

How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?

There are many in the legal profession who believe in using the law to secure the rights of all people to a healthy and sustainable planet. Assuming we continue to see increases in international demand for protection of the global climate, the planet, and the people and other living things that inhabit it, then I think we will continue to see significant growth in climate law as a practice area. Climate change is certainly an area with more opportunity for ambitious attorneys to thrive. The legal landscape around climate change law is always developing and changing. Unlike the environmental bar’s Superfund practice, for example, an ambitious lawyer can more easily develop an expertise in an area like climate change law because the body of law hasn’t been around that long.

What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area?

I think there are opportunities at law firms, at companies with in-house legal departments, at environmental regulatory agencies or with other government positions, and with the environmental NGOs or public interest organizations. I think all these paths have their pros and cons. Sometimes, I think that environmental lawyers who are focused on one of these paths may not speak as much with environmental lawyers focused on other paths. I think that is a bad thing. I am always trying to get the in-house legal department perspective from my clients. I try to take time to speak with the environmental lawyers at the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Justice that I interact with on client matters—and to talk with them not just about the specific matters on which we are working, but also to get their broader perspectives on trends and developments in environmental law. I think there is a benefit to spending the extra time on the phone with the regulator to hear what they are thinking about broadly, even if the discussion may not be directly relevant to the specific matter that the regulator called you about. Similarly, I work with some very good lawyers that are in-house with public interest environmental groups. I try to learn from them too. I learn a lot from these public interest lawyers that I do not necessary learn when I’m working with private practice environmental lawyers.

Seth Kerschner, Partner—Environment & Climate Change

Seth Kerschner practices environmental law and assists clients with litigation, climate change, energy transition matters, transactions, regulatory compliance, site remediation, and sustainability and “ESG” matters. He has managed the environmental aspects of hundreds of successfully consummated trans-
actions in the renewable energy, manufacturing, chemicals, pharmaceutical, and oil and gas sectors, among others. He also has significant experience with wind and solar projects. Seth advises developers and lenders on applying the Equator Principles and IFC Performance Standards to energy and infrastructure projects.

His environmental litigation practice covers disputes related to air emissions, physical risks associated with climate change, longer-term shifts in climatic patterns, contaminated land, and emerging contaminants. Seth’s work on energy transition matters involves advising clients on greenhouse gas emission reduction and offset projects, sustainability and climate change disclosure, governance and climate change for corporate clients, and the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures. Seth has experience with international climate change law as well. He counseled a government client through several meetings of the Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, including COP21, which resulted in the Paris Agreement.

Billy Jacobson, Partner
Allen & Overy LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

My practice is white collar criminal defense, investigations, and compliance, with a heavy focus on FCPA and anti-corruption. The practice includes every aspect of FCPA work, including: (1) defense of large companies in government enforcement matters; (2) internal investigations for companies; (3) compliance assessments, audits, and counseling for companies; and (4) the representation of executives in government investigations and enforcement matters. Beyond FCPA, the practice also involves the representation of companies in investigations and sanctions proceedings brought by multi-lateral development banks like the World Bank and the African Development Bank. These proceedings are increasingly common. I also handle white collar matters unrelated to the FCPA, such as criminal investigations of antitrust/competition, sanctions, and environmental issues.

What types of clients do you represent?

I represent both large companies and individuals.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Some examples of recent cases include the following: (1) representing the engineering, procurement, and construction company KBR in a DOJ, SEC, U.K. SFO investigation; (2) serving as the independent compliance monitor of Braskem, a large Brazilian petrochemical company; (3) serving as compliance and investigations counsel for a large oil and gas exploration company; (4) conducting internal investigations for one of the world’s largest oil field services companies; and (5) representing a large engineering contractor before the World Bank’s enforcement arm.

How did you choose this practice area?

I knew I wanted to be involved in criminal law since junior high school when I saw an older cousin serve as a state prosecutor in Chicago. I was (and still am) attracted to the high stakes inherent in criminal investigations and prosecutions for both individuals and companies. Every case is different, and solving the who, what, and why of an investigation fascinates me. It is also very rewarding to counsel clients through what is often their biggest and most important problem.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Given the international focus of my work, it is quite common to start the day very early with calls and video conferences with folks all over the world. The day is usually quite hectic from 7 to 11 a.m. These days, we are conducting more and more substantive work over video, from client meetings to witness interviews to compliance assessments. Meetings with the DOJ, the SEC, and other regulators are also quite common.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

General litigation skills, including writings skills, are important to this practice area. It also is helpful to serve as a government prosecutor to learn how the other side is thinking about a case.

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

The most challenging aspect of this practice area is also what makes it the most exciting, i.e., the stakes are enormous. For both individuals and companies, criminal investigations can be all-consuming and stressful and can have dramatic consequences. Keeping this in mind, but also not being shaken by it; keeping matters in perspective; and not losing objectivity are important and can be quite challenging.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

Allen & Overy has elite criminal practitioners and investigators all over the globe, from the U.S. to Europe to Africa to Asia to Australia. Having been at a few firms over the course of my career, I have never before encountered a high-quality global investigations practice as exists at A&O.  The group also is a collaborative one, which makes a huge difference. We don’t compete with one another (as you find at some firms), but rather work with one another to best serve the client.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

Junior lawyers in this practice area do whatever they prove themselves capable of doing.  I have had third-year lawyers running very large cases because they have proven that they could handle it. Typical assignments include reviewing documents looking for evidence of crimes, preparing for interviews, taking notes in interviews, conducting interviews, preparing for meetings with government prosecutors, and reviewing and revising company compliance policies and procedures.

How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?

I see this practice area only growing over time. Unfortunately, corruption and fraud are as old as humans themselves and show no sign of abating. And, governments increasingly are realizing the importance of coordinating with one another in investigating corruption. This means that companies operating in challenging parts of the world have to be constantly vigilant in terms of monitoring their compliance and improving their compliance programs. It also means that, from time-to-time, most companies will face some degree of government scrutiny.

Billy Jacobson, Partner—Litigation/Investigations

Billy Jacobson focuses his practice on FCPA and white collar enforcement, representing corporates, individuals, and financial institutions. Billy has over 25 years of experience, having served as the chief compliance officer and co-general counsel of a global oilfield services company, as a federal prosecutor—including as assistant chief for FCPA Enforcement in DOJ’s Fraud Section, and in private practice. Billy’s expertise both in corporate compliance and corporate criminal defense is a rare combination that serves clients well.

Billy is Chambers-rated for both FCPA and white collar enforcement generally.

Billy’s practice currently includes the representation of a large international engineering and construction company being investigated for FCPA and U.K. Bribery Act violations by the DOJ, SEC, and U.K. SFO; companies facing potential sanctions by the World Bank; individuals in connection with the VW emissions investigation cases; and several individuals in various FCPA investigations. He also serves as compliance counsel for several companies and private equity firms.

Billy received his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and his B.A. from Tufts University.

Andrea M. Basham, Counsel
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

I represent our corporate clients in their strategic joint ventures and non-control investments, including through corporate venture capital programs, as they increasingly seek to hedge against potentially disruptive technologies by outsourcing risks and costs and gaining access to research and development, intellectual property, and innovation strategies. I also represent institutional investors of all types in a variety of non-control investments. In addition, I represent a number of companies in a broad range of corporate matters—including governance, disclosure, M&A, and financing transactions.

What types of clients do you represent?

My clients include a mix of companies and institutional investors. On the corporate side, I have represented clients across a variety of industries, including industrials (Stanley Black & Decker), media (New Media, Universal Music Group), technology (Alphabet/Google, MercadoLibre), financial services (The Hartford Financial Group), oil and gas (Carbo Ceramics), and payments (Evertec), among others. On the institutional investor side, I have represented private equity funds, sovereign wealth funds, asset managers, and hedge funds.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Recently, my transactional work has been focused primarily on non-control and strategic minority investments by corporate and institutional investors. I have particularly enjoyed being part of my corporate clients’ evolution and growth in recent years with respect to their focus on emerging technologies. That work has included representing Alphabet/Google in its investment in SpaceX; Stanley Black & Decker in its varied investments in new technologies through its corporate venture capital arm, Stanley Ventures; and MercadoLibre in its combined $1.85 billion public and private/PIPE financing, which included a commercial arrangement with PayPal. I just represented Universal Music Group in connection with Tencent’s publicly announced purchase of 10 percent of the company from Vivendi and option to purchase a stake of UMG’s Greater China business.

How did you choose this practice area?

I knew coming out of college that I wanted to be a corporate lawyer and took two years to work in consulting to get to know the business world before going to law school. While I debated going to business school instead, what intrigued me most coming out of law school was being able to partner with business leaders to help them achieve their objectives. I particularly value the Global Transactions practice at Freshfields, given its forward-looking commitment to anticipating how economic changes and market shifts are likely to affect our clients and our practice, which allows us to be better lawyers to our clients.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

This is a great question, and I could use all of this space to talk about the different adventures a day can bring. One of the things I find to be the most fun about being a law firm lawyer is the variety of matters I deal with on any given day. The most significant part of my day is really about human interactions. I spend a lot of time on the phone or in person with current clients, whether it be advising a client with whom I’ve had a long relationship on a one-off question that has come up or spending several hours on a call or in a meeting negotiating a transaction agreement with a broad group of clients and their advisors. And I particularly enjoy business development and focusing on new client relationships, which is increasingly a part of all our practices. I also spend a lot of time with colleagues, and I value Freshfields’ commitment to an open culture and collegiality. In an era where technology often makes avoiding direct human interaction way too easy, I make a point every day to try to meet with my teammates on my transactions and to spend real time teaching the associates with whom I work. The second part of my day almost always involves reviewing contracts or other types of documents, requiring focus and concentration and the time to think through difficult issues without interruption—easier said than done, but an incredibly rewarding part of the job to get right. The third part of my day is spent organizing—making sure I’ve been responsive to every question, planning what needs to be accomplished in the short and medium term and how to get there, and ensuring that I’ve appropriately delegated the various things that need to be done.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

The lawyers I look up to most are not necessarily those who have the best formal training or the most headline deal experience, but those who really commit to learning from every experience and remain adaptable throughout their careers. A corporate practice, and particularly one that is very transactional, involves a lot of people management, a lot of process management, and a lot of knowledge. No one is innately able to perfectly manage every deal, every problem, or every person that comes their way. We learn from each other. I think those who succeed the most are those who have paid attention to how others have performed successfully (or not) in similar situations and are able to implement their lessons learned in emulating the best aspects of them.

What do you like best about your practice area?

I love the variety of work and the variety of clients. At Freshfields, we don’t work in siloed industry or practice groups, and I’ve valued and sought to work in that sort of free-flowing, organic structure throughout my career. As a result, I’m always working on multiple projects for totally different clients. I particularly like the aspect of my practice that allows me to get to know the businesses of my different clients, and I am constantly learning something new. Most recently, this has included learning about what the 3D printers of the future might look like, how payments systems are rapidly evolving, and how music label contracts work.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

What I find most unique about Freshfields’ New York Global Transactions practice, as compared to other “Wall Street” corporate law practices, is its approach and commitment to being a truly global firm. The firm’s commitment to continuing to grow its corporate practice in the U.S. is unparalleled. But also, in a world where nearly every transaction has some sort of cross-border element to it, whether large or small, the breadth of the firm’s expertise both across practice areas and jurisdictions around the world is an asset that I believe positions the firm particularly well to serve our clients on the complex transactions that we expect to see in the years to come.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

The variety that I appreciate about my own practice is equally applicable to a junior lawyer’s role. The junior lawyer will often be the first point of contact for a client, which creates a real opportunity early in her or his career to start developing professional relationships. The junior lawyer will often be responsible for keeping track of all workstreams on a matter—keeping the trains running on time and knowing where each deal is at any given time is an exciting way to learn about the complexity of a transaction without having to immediately dive into the substance and technicalities of all of the different workstreams. The junior lawyer will often be the first to take a pencil to paper (or keyboard to screen) in drafting a document, and our culture endeavors to give a junior associate as much responsibility as he or she is willing and ready to handle.

How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?

I think clients today expect their legal advisors to understand their businesses and the economics of a transaction to an extent much greater than they did 5 or 10 years ago, and that trend will continue. As a result, being a corporate lawyer means not only getting the legal advice right, but being a businessperson and being able to counsel clients on both legal and commercial aspects of an issue or transaction. In my mind, this continues to make our practice more interesting, and I value working at a firm that makes this a priority. I also think (and hope) that our legal teams will continue to look more like the world around us. Clients are increasingly demanding that their providers field diverse teams, and they value the contributions of women and minorities in a way that I think has really come to the forefront in the last several years. I am particularly proud of how Freshfields has committed to diversity; our team is both incredibly diverse and incredibly committed to continuing to build with diversity as a primary goal. Lastly, clients are well aware of the efficiencies that technology offers with respect to certain elements of providing and delivering legal advice. Freshfields is out in front of this, figuring out how AI can help contract review, how precedent gathering can be more effective, and how drafting can be more efficient, among other things. On all of these fronts, I am proud to be part of a commitment to an open-minded and adaptable approach to being the advisors on the next generation of transactions.

Andrea M. Basham, Partner—Global Transactions

Andrea is a Partner in the M&A practice of Freshfields’ New York office. Andrea advises companies in raising capital through public and private financing transactions and shareholders on their equity investments, including corporate venture capital programs. Her practice also focuses on disclosure and ongoing reporting obligations of public companies, public and private offerings of securities in the U.S. and elsewhere, and securities law and reporting aspects of M&A transactions involving public companies. Andrea received a J.D. degree in 2002 from New York University Law School, where she served on the Articles Committee of the NYU Law Review, and a B.A., magna cum laude, from Vanderbilt University in 1997.

Peter Cohen-Millstein, Partner • Megan Ridley-Kaye, Counsel
Linklaters

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Peter: As an M&A lawyer, I advise businesses at transformational moments in their trajectory—e.g., buying another company, selling their business or a portion of their business, or entering into a collaboration or joint venture. It’s an exciting aspect of business but one that companies typically don’t encounter very often, which means they turn to advisors who can assist them in navigating the distinct challenges that arise during M&A processes.

What types of clients do you represent?

Peter: Our clients are from all over the world. We advise U.S. clients on transactions both in the U.S. and elsewhere. Additionally, we advise clients from around the world on global and U.S.-based transactions.

Megan: We represent a variety of clients across all sectors and industries. We see ourselves as able to dig in deep into any industry to get to know the relevant issues that impact the transaction we are working on. Recently, we have done a lot of deals relating to energy and renewables, as well as consumer goods.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Peter: We work on transactions where differences in bodies of law and differences in market practice come to bear, and we need to be flexible in our ability to assist our clients in navigating those issues. We look for conflicts of law and how we can structure around them or avoid them. We also look for conflicts in market practice and how we can use those to our clients’ advantage. Our clients are sophisticated businesspeople in their home jurisdictions and a big part of our job is to translate what they know from their home jurisdictions into how deals are done in the U.S. or under New York law.

Megan: As Peter said, our practice focuses on transformative moments in a company’s evolution, be it an acquisition (of itself or of another company), strategic joint venture, or other similar major transaction. In addition, we give advice on commercial arrangements, such as long-term commercial contracts. We don’t get brought in to do cookie-cutter deals. We often do deals that raise a question of first impression or include an unusual set of facts and the interaction of different bodies of law. We are brought in to try to figure out how to make square pegs fit into round holes.

How did you choose this practice area?

Peter: I accidentally fell into M&A through a job I had after my first year of law school. I worked in-house at a public company that did a lot of M&A. I was lucky that the general counsel and associate general counsel allowed me to sit in on all the meetings and participate in the process. I stuck with M&A because it’s a good fit for my personality. I love to learn new things, and every deal for me is learning a new business and industry and new personalities. As a lawyer, your job is to apply the facts to the law. In M&A, you are constantly learning new facts in the sense that you really need to understand your client’s business objectives in a given deal in order to determine how to create a risk profile, within the legal framework, that makes sense for your client. To me, that’s a ton of fun. Another exciting element of the job is learning comparative law issues; I know more about the law in other jurisdictions than I ever thought I would.

Megan: As a summer associate, I enjoyed Linklaters’ mock auction program, which simulates an M&A auction. I found it challenging and interesting, and I enjoyed how much ownership I could take over the process. I really felt like I was seeing a deal from start to finish, which inspired me to go into corporate practice. The reason I have stuck with it over the years is that M&A allows you to get great high-level expertise in a variety of different practice areas, which translated very well when I went in-house. M&A gives you a variety and breadth that always keeps things interesting.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Peter: In a pre-COVID-19 world, many days would involve traveling and meeting clients in person. In many business cultures, there is no replacement for the in-person meeting. In others, virtual meetings and phone calls are fine. Understanding the context in which the business deal is being done is important. Post-COVID-19, it will be interesting to see what the new “normal” becomes on this front. Ultimately, my day is a combination of contemplating the forest (i.e., focusing on key areas of risk for clients) and examining individual trees (i.e., translating how we manage that risk into legal documents). I also spend a lot of time working with and training associates around the world.

Megan: On an average day, I speak to people in at least three different jurisdictions. We are always working on multiple cross-border deals at once. I always know what time it is in Switzerland, London, and São Paulo. I love talking to people around the world about how the U.S. is perceived and what is going on where they are. It’s an interesting and challenging exchange of ideas about political, economic, and social happenings.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Peter: I would recommend Tax and Securities Regulation courses. I’d also recommend reading news sources from around the world.

Megan: I would recommend taking a class taught by a practitioner, even if it’s not specifically on M&A. Practitioners discuss real-world application of the law, which I found to be a breath of fresh air in law school.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

Peter: What’s truly unique is while we have a relatively small U.S. M&A practice, we work on mega deals that are truly global in nature. That means that relatively junior people end up taking on significantly more responsibly than they might otherwise if they were at a larger U.S. M&A practice.

Megan: People at Linklaters are extremely linked up around the world. It’s very easy to connect with colleagues globally, which means we can better service our clients. Because most of our matters are cross-border, we know our colleagues around the world very well and are accustomed to working with each other. This, plus the lockstep partner compensation model, fosters a collaborative culture, which I do think is truly unique. It also makes Linklaters a nice place to work.

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain in this practice area at your firm?

Peter: We don’t distinguish between summer associates and junior associates.

Megan: We make a concerted effort to make sure that everyone who wants to be on an M&A deal gets assigned to one and is doing real work. Last summer, we had a team of summer associates doing due diligence on a mega deal. They worked very hard and did great work, and it was the same work that first- and second-year associates were doing. We also staff summer associates on longer-term projects to make sure that we’re first in class in terms of know-how.

What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area?

Megan: It can vary a lot, which is one of the great things about our practice area. I know people who have gone in-house, to practice other types of law, to political campaigns, or to nonprofits–or who have left the law altogether. I think M&A makes you a great issue-spotter and translates easily into almost any arena. I went in-house for a few years, and the training I got as an associate at Linklaters was crucial to my success. Even though I was doing more than M&A, drawing on my experience as a junior and mid-level associate at Linklaters enabled me to tackle the variety of challenges thrown at an in-house lawyer.

How can lawyers develop greater cultural intelligence in dealing with international transactions and matters?

Peter: It is really important that lawyers not fall into the trap of thinking that there is only one way to get something done. Lawyers have to recognize that there are lots of successful business cultures around the world that may take different approaches to similar problems. It is critical to listen carefully to your clients and to consistently speak with experts and colleagues in different jurisdictions. Reading business press, especially from other jurisdictions and not just U.S. business press, is crucial to understanding perspectives around the world. By keeping an open mind and asking a lot of questions, I find myself better equipped to handle global transactions.

When we do trainings for non-U.S. audiences on U.S. M&A practice, it necessarily forces us to research and understand the non-U.S. perspective in order to deliver the training in a way that is most meaningful to them. Understanding the perspective of a non-U.S. general counsel on M&A is critical to my ability to help that client navigate the U.S. M&A market.

Megan: One of the most interesting parts of our job is tracking M&A trends across the world and how different jurisdictions cross-pollinate one another. Being aware of those trends allows you to better service international clients who might be more familiar with doing something in a certain way. It also makes you a better translator when you are trying to figure out how to do a deal for that international client in the U.S. or to help a U.S. client do a deal in another jurisdiction.

Peter Cohen-Millstein, Partner, and Megan Ridley-Kaye, Counsel—Corporate/M&A

Peter Cohen-Millstein is a partner in Linklaters’ Corporate/M&A practice based in New York. He represents domestic and international clients in all aspects of complex cross-border transactions, including public and private mergers, acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, equity and asset sales, tender offers, exchange offers, recapitalizations, and joint ventures. He also advises clients on SEC compliance and reporting, governance issues, and corporate and securities law matters. Peter serves as the Diversity & Inclusion Partner for the Americas. He holds an A.B. from Brown University and a J.D. from New York University School of Law.

Megan Ridley-Kaye is a counsel in Linklaters’ Corporate/M&A practice based in New York. She represents clients in a variety of domestic and international corporate transactions spanning a wide range of sectors, including energy, consumer goods, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, transport, industrials, and chemicals. She has advised clients in connection with a broad range of multijurisdictional equity and asset sales, including auctions, corporate restructurings, and joint ventures. She holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

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