Nina Beattie is an experienced litigator in criminal, regulatory and civil matters at Brune & Richard, a firm described by the “New York Times” as a “top-flight New York litigation boutique.” At the firm, both name partners are women, and so are 12 of the 17 lawyers who practice there.
Beattie’s practice focuses on white collar defense and complex commercial litigation. She has successfully represented individuals and organizations in a wide range of cases in federal and state courts and before regulatory agencies.
Beattie recently spoke with WIPL about a life-long love of the law, the rise in international investigations and getting to use the math and science part of her brain at work.
WIPL: What first drew you to a career in the law?
My father is a lawyer, so I grew up loving the law and debating legal issues at a relatively young age. I remember a dinner with one of his senior law partners when I was about 10 years old. The partner described the somewhat incredible facts of Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co. and asked me if I thought the train company was liable in the case. Then he explained the concept of proximate cause. I always remember the dinner, and it was great fun to study the case in law school.
After college, I worked in the public interest area, advocating for various causes. So, becoming a lawyer was a natural step that allowed me to use and hone my advocacy skills.
WIPL: What has been most interesting about your current role?
I love learning in depth about new subjects, whatever the field. As a white collar criminal and regulatory defense attorney in New York, many of my clients are in the financial sector, so I have had the opportunity to learn about the current financial issues of the day, be it FX trading, LIBOR or CDOs. But I’ve also represented individuals in a number of different fields, such as medicine, energy and the pharmaceutical industry, and I find those cases fascinating as well. I was somewhat of a math-science geek in school, so it’s fun for me to use those parts of my brain.
WIPL: What is the most important issue facing your industry or the legal profession now?
The globalization of criminal and regulatory enforcement. As the world becomes flatter, there are more and more international investigations. Coordinating among the different foreign and domestic regulatory and governmental investigatory organizations has its own special risks and considerations.
WIPL: What professional accomplishment has made you most proud?
The highest profile case I worked on was the Bear Stearns hedge fund case. It was one of the few criminal prosecutions to come out of the financial crisis. Our client was charged in the Eastern District of New York along with his colleague and was acquitted after trial. That was an incredible win, but sometimes the smaller cases, which are often not public, where one manages to keep clients from being charged by the government or regulators, are just as satisfying.
WIPL: Were there specific people or opportunities that helped you throughout your career?
There have been lots of people who have helped me throughout my career. Certainly the founding partners of my firm have been instrumental. But I really enjoy the camaraderie of the white collar bar in New York. I have found it incredibly helpful to discuss and strategize about cases with co-counsel in joint defense settings.
WIPL: Do you see a difference in how women network with and mentor other women, compared to working with men?
It’s hard to say. I remember going to a lot of meetings in the past with a senior male partner and a female associate from another firm. In those days, the partner may have not introduced his associate, who was expected to sit quietly and take notes. That would never happen at our firm. The best attorneys recognize that having a strong team of associates and junior partners only makes the firm better. Mentoring helps everyone improve.
WIPL: Have you planned out your past and next career steps, or have there been surprises along the way?
One surprise has been how long I’ve stayed at my firm doing what I do. I don’t think I expected that I would love it as much as I do.