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Growing up in the Bahamas with a Swiss background, a BA in Government from Harvard and an MA in International Relations from the LSE, Nicola McKinney for a long time felt her natural home was in public policy at the UN. However, during her time in London, she felt the call to the legal profession. Law ‘gels with the way my mind works’, she says. ‘It’s about logic, analysis, strategic long-term thinking, and you need an ability to hold quite a lot of different moving parts and details together. Any fear you might be bored would never materialise as a lawyer.’ Prior to joining Grosvenor Law in 2014, she spent ten years as an independent barrister in London: but with her diverse international background, she doesn’t limit herself to the UK. She is charged with extending Grosvenor’s business in Switzerland as well as being called to the Bar in the Bahamas, providing the boutique firm with outsized international firepower. This meshes well with what she describes as the strength of her firm, who are ‘more in tune with our clients’ needs than the big law firms.’ This manifests itself in her resistance to the ‘one-size-fits-all approach’, believing that she can offer ‘the whole picture. I have to think not just about legal matters, but also the commercial interests that my clients have at the front of their minds.’ McKinney recognises that ‘clients want different things out of litigation —they might want to send a message to competitors, or perhaps discretion might be more important.’ Most of her cases ‘are either broadly financial malfeasance cases, such as fraud or breach of trust, or they deal with companies under challenge, such as employment disputes and injunctions. At the moment it seems to be mostly malfeasance, as the world has seen quite a lot of bribery and corruption investigations at both the national and international level.’ One example of the complexity and scale of cases she deals with was one last year, where a belligerent Russian bank was trying to freeze £150 million worth of a Russian client’s assets. The instrument the bank was trying to leverage is officially known as a ‘worldwide freezing order,’ but in the profession is more commonly known by its nickname: ‘the nuclear option’. Nicola was called in, and coordinated lawyers and strategy across an international scope.

Nicola McKinney
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