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Through our series of 'many hats interviews' we show that commercial lawyers can't be pigeon-holed by work-type, but rather it is our aptitude and willingness to pick up anything which crosses our desk which is the common thread defining us. Today we interview Jonathan Armstrong, a Partner at Cordery a specialist compliance practice. Cordery provides innovative ways of helping General Counsel, Compliance Professionals and Heads of Legal across industries manage compliance.
How did you end up being a commercial lawyer?
I qualified into a fairly general practice and one day the firm landed a big job to do a transaction in the nuclear industry. I went along as an extra pair of hands but for various reasons ended up in a confrontational meeting with the other party’s accountant who started questioning me on the Companies Act. Thankfully by sheer fluke I remembered not only the answer but the relevant section of the Act. He backed down and I was hooked.
What type of projects are you working on at the moment?
Cordery does a fairly wide variety of compliance issues. We’re handling a number of internal investigations including supporting another firm on an investigation that they are leading. We’re handling a wide range of data protection matters and some right to be forgotten cases. We’re also quite heavily involved in due diligence at the moment particularly in connection with the Russian sanctions regime.
Describe a memorable moment of your career.
I advised a household name media business on part of their strategy. I had a one to one session with one of their very senior executives in their boardroom in New York – a large boardroom with a magnificent view – just him and me and a whiteboard where he kept drawing strange concepts including memorably “this is the corporation as an elephant”.
What makes a lawyer a commercial lawyer?
In part you have to put yourself in your clients’ shoes. You have to spend their money as if it was yours and look at the risks as if you were taking them.
Is there a common problem you come across time and time again as a commer
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