How Does he Manage?: International lawyer

Robert Amsterdam, Partner at Amsterdam & Peroff (Mikhail Khodorkovsky'S defence counsel)

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

WHEN DID YOU BECOME A MANAGER?

Twenty-five years ago, when I became an international business lawyer. You can't work in emerging markets and pretend that you are doing it on your own.

WHAT DOES MANAGEMENT MEAN TO YOU?

I subscribe to chaos theory - I am not a good manager. I'm a big believer in hiring the right local manager and leading in terms of the big strategic picture. I prefer to set up a team where you have the right flow of information and can engage in dialogue. Life is all about who you know: in Nigeria I have relationships that go back 35 years. It's one of the key assets you bring to the table when you have clients in crisis. In emerging markets it's a very different life to working at a desk in the City. We work in Venezuela, Nigeria, Guatemala and Russia as well as North America, and each case is different from the common perception of what lawyers do. You have to be far more creative and politically astute in places where the rule of law is under threat. It's a matter of advocacy writ large, as opposed to writing briefs.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE/DISLIKE ABOUT YOUR JOB?

I like the intellectual challenge. It's rare that we get a job that isn't a game of three-dimensional chess. I hate the lack of time with my family.

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