Edith Nordmann Discusses International Law in Business and Commerce
On 23 May, Wittenborg hosted a guest lecture with experienced corporate and commercial litigator Edith Nordmann, who is managing partner and attorney at law at ACG International, Amsterdam. The activity had the goal of introducing bachelor’s students from various specialisations to different legal aspects of international business transactions, including risks and opportunities, types of agreements, methods of dispute resolution, choice of law and choice of jurisdiction. During the session, Nordmann exemplified each topic with real-life cases she encountered during her career.
The guest speaker stressed that businesspeople and entrepreneurs need to pay attention to the rules and details of business agreements, such as the challenges involved and who is going to bear the costs if the risks are manifested. Nordmann highlighted that, when working as a mediator in alternative dispute resolution cases, she makes use of her background as a lawyer to try to find the best possible agreement for her clients.
“I help my clients see opportunities as well as the legal consequences that will result from each possible approach to the dispute, and this gives them ideas on which path to take. In addition to that, I always point out that mediation is an opportunity to decide for themselves what they want to say ‘yes’ to and what they do not want to accept. This is different from when people go to court, because then the judge will tell them what is going to happen and they will win or lose, there is nothing in between,” she said.
According to Nordmann, the most important thing she has learned throughout her career is to stay curious and keep on learning, because no professional has all the answers. “It is also important to keep in mind that every situation has multiple sides, and your clients will always be telling you their own version of the story. As a lawyer, you must make a difference between yourself and your clients; you should not become so involved that you lose contact with the real matter. So, try to be objective and never promise anything that cannot be done. Finally, this is a profession that requires long hours and a lot of dedication, and people should only go into it if that is what they really love.”
She described the interaction with the students as “inspirational”, pointing out that the participants were very engaged in the activity, by asking questions and making comments.
Opportunities for Learning
IBA student Martin Hattingh, specialising in Financial Services Management, said that Nordmann’s guest lecture was “fascinating”, adding that the real-life examples she used helped solidify the concepts discussed. “This was a nice introduction to the topic and one key takeaway is that I should have all my agreements written and the contract should be signed by both parties, to ensure that its stipulations are all correct and not ambiguous. Plus, the importance of having a good lawyer early on should not be overlooked, because they can save you from many lawsuits and ensure that all legal agreements are done correctly, which will save you lots of money and time in the long run.”
In Hattingh’s view, activities such as guest lectures can be very beneficial for students. “They are a great way to inspire students and give relevant, real-world accounts of the theories learned in class. Hearing the thoughts and opinions of leading professionals is a wonderful opportunity for learning and enables students to think of these topics in new ways, seeing aspects they had not previously considered.”
by Ulisses Sawczuk