Pragmatism and Professionalism: Lessons From Dechert Partner Caroline Black on Becoming a Leading Thinker in Your Sector

In every sector, a person emerges who pushes to the forefront and becomes an authority in their field of expertise. Through their knowledge and experience, they establish themselves as the go-to person in their discipline.

There are also many leaders whose unique insights and experiences are less public and yet no less substantial roles in their given fields. One such leader is Caroline Black, a London-based partner at Dechert LLP whose work in criminal defence and investigations has made her an award-winning lawyer with international recognition.

Founded over 100 years ago in 1875, Dechert has become a global law firm with 24 locations. Today, Dechert employs some of the top lawyers in the world, including Caroline Black. Their lawyers advise on domestic and cross-border matters for a wide range of clients, including corporations, financial institutions, sovereign states, quasi-sovereign entities, and private and high-net-worth individuals. Their reputation for providing sophisticated legal advice based on a breadth of knowledge across markets has seen them undertake work for 40 Fortune 100 companies and they advise 24 of the top 25 global asset management firms. In their tenure of over a century, the firm also has a history of providing pro bono legal services to organizations and individuals who are unable to afford legal counsel. In 2019 alone, the firm completed more than 90,000 pro bono hours worldwide, with lawyers in every office and all practice groups contributing.

Caroline Black has been with Dechert for more than nine years and spent three and a half as a senior associate before becoming a partner. Prior to that, she attended the University of Birmingham and Nottingham Law School and spent eight years working for the global law firm DLA Piper. In her work as a criminal defence and investigations lawyer for Dechert, she focuses on cross-border regulatory or internal investigations pertaining to the investigation and defence of business crimes, particularly matters involving corruption, money laundering, fraud, and tax concerns. She has advised organizations, boards, and audit committees on conducting investigations and interacting with relevant national authorities, such as the UK Serious Fraud Office, H.M. Revenue & Customs, and the police. Additionally, she has practical experience in advising clients on how to manage raids on corporate and personal premises and how to respond to and defend criminal or regulatory prosecution.

Dechert is often retained for the most complex, challenging investigations and disputes and Caroline Black has gained a reputation as a top white collar defence lawyer amidst an ever-changing regulatory environment. Her work at Dechert has received international recognition, solidifying her influence in the industry. In 2015, she was included in Global Investigations Review’s ‘Women in Investigations,’ which profiles 100 women from around the world for their accomplishments in law, and she was designated a ‘Rising Star’ of litigation by Legal Week in 2016. The Legal 500 UK has recognised her as a ‘Leading Individual’ both in their 2019 and 2020 edition, describing her as having ‘the ability to keep cool in complex and stressful situations’ and saying that clients have called her ‘very pragmatic… efficient… capable, engaged, hardworking, and widely respected.’ Also in 2019 and 2020, Who’s Who Legal identified her as a ‘Future Leader’ for the investigations sector, and Chambers UK 2020 ranked her as an ‘Up and Coming’ white collar crime practitioner.

A career highlight, Caroline Black was a principal advisor in the landmark Airbus SE investigation, acting for the aerospace leader on a four-year, multi-jurisdictional corruption probe. In what is believed to be the first coordinated settlement agreement between the UK’s Serious Fraud Office, France’s Parquet National Financier, and the United States’ Department of Justice and State, Airbus reached a landmark $4 billion settlement. Black and her team were awarded ‘Investigation Team of the Year’ by the business intelligence organization C5 in their Women in Compliance Awards for 2020, and Black was singled out as an ‘Expert for White Collar Crime’ by Euromoney’s Expert Guides 2020 in the UK.

Hard work isn’t enough to rise above and become a leader and opinion shaper in your field. You must be an innovative trailblazer who can handle pressure. Caroline Black’s pragmatic approach to criminal defence and investigations has helped her become a widely respected figure in law, and her professionalism has brought her the acclaim that she deserves.