To read the full profile with Kimberly Lynch, click here.
R.J. O'Brien General Counsel Kimberly Lynch discusses alternative billing and her history at ABN AMRO.
Q: What's your take on alternative billing?
A: True, alternative billing would be great, but I'm not sure how often it really happens. When people just go to a law firm and negotiate a 20% discount for some volume of work--that's not particularly meaningful because I'm not sure you're getting much of a discount there. But things like fixed fee arrangements or success fee-based arrangements in the case of litigation--those come closer to being alternate billing.
Q: What did you do at ABN AMRO/LaSalle Bank?
A: I did a bit of everything--supporting the derivatives fixed income area of the bank, figuring out how to structure contracts for a pretty big international organization, deciding what contracts to offer in London, Chicago and Canada. It was mostly a lot of foreign exchange and OTC derivatives, primarily interest rate and foreign exchange. This was 10 years ago, so things like credit derivatives and equity derivatives were not as common as they are now. This was a time when interest rate and foreign exchange was simpler.
Q: Were contract specifications hard to put together?
A: Yes, but thankfully the industry has a lot of market standard templates which makes a lawyer's job very easy because we have something to start with. But everything gets negotiated back and forth on the actual specific terms. I had done a lot of that type of work at Mayer Brown in New York, so it wasn't new to me.
Q: What was the most challenging issue you encountered at ABN AMRO?
A: Maybe it's just the most recent in my memory, but on an emotional level the acquisition by Bank of America of our business unit LaSalle Bank Corp. was challenging because we eventually found ourselves in a position of knowing we were going to be sold off, which involves doing a lot of hard work. Doing hard work and growing a business is one thing. Doing hard work and winding down or selling a business is harder on an emotional level. It's hard knowing people with whom you've worked for years probably aren't all going to be working together anymore. Also, there was someone at Bank of America who already had the job that I had at ABN who was a very good friend of mine. I knew that I would not have that job at Bank of America. A lot of what I did after the acquisition closed on October 2007 was help with transition matters. I left at the end of May.
Q: Do you prefer working in-house versus working at law firms?
A: The great thing about being in-house is that you know almost everything from A to Z about the company you're working for. You're involved at the start of litigation and you know every aspect of it. The downside of that is you know only your institution and how your institution does things.