"국제 소송의 강자". "법조계의 타이탄". "소송상대방으로 마주치기 싫은 로펌".
글로벌 로펌 '퀸 엠마누엘(Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP)'을 수식하는 말이다.
1986년 창립된 퀸 엠마누엘은, 현재 전세계에 30개 사무소와 900명 이상의 변호사를 둔 대형 로펌으로 성장했다. 존 퀸(John B. Quinn·사진) 설립대표변호사는 3명의 동료와 함께 로펌을 설립하고 지금까지 성장을 주도한 인물이다. 여러 매체에서 최고의 송무 변호사로 손꼽혔으며, 글로벌 로펌 설립자 중 흔치 않게 현역으로 활동하고 있다.
법률신문은 2일 역삼동 조선팰리스 서울강남 호텔에서 퀸 대표와 만났다. 시종 소탈하게 웃으면서도 예리함을 잃지 않는 그에게, 전 세계 법조계의 현재와 미래에 대해 들었다.
로스쿨학생부터 소송 상대 변호사까지
먼저 세계적인 로펌으로 성장한 비결을 묻자, 그는 뛰어난 인재를 거듭 강조했다.
퀸 대표는 "로펌이 가진 유일한 자산은 변호사들의 재능과 자질"이라며 "변호사들의 능력과 실력에 대해 결코 타협하지 않는다"고 말했다. 또 "로스쿨 학생부터 소송 상대편 변호사까지, 좋은 재능을 가진 인재를 늘 주의 깊게 살피고 찾는다"고 말했다.
이어 "우리는 (성장을 위해) 언제나 새로운 기회를 모색한다."며 "카타르 도하에 사무소를 낸 것도 그곳에서 새 기회를 보았기 때문이고, 결과는 성공적이었다. 잠재력을 믿고 과감하게 도전하려 한다"고 덧붙였다.
퀸 엠마누엘은 네 명의 송무 변호사들이 설립한 이래로, 줄곧 송무 분야에 집중하며 명성을 쌓아왔다. 그에게 지금의 기조를 유지할 것인지 물었다.
그는 "우리는 오랜 시간 수많은 소송을 수행하고 업무 과정을 공유하며, 우리만의 노하우를 축적해 지금에 이르렀다"고 했다. 이어 "퀸 엠마누엘이 법률시장에 보내는 메시지는 하나다. '소송은 우리가 제일 잘한다'는 것"이라며 "앞으로도 이런 기조를 바꾸지 않을 것"이라고 자신있게 말했다.
향후 유망한 법률분야는
퀸 대표에게 앞으로 유망해질 법률 분야를 물었다. 그는 개인정보, AI(인공지능), 그리고 공정거래를 꼽았다.
그는 "'개인정보' 분야가 특히 중요해질 것"이라며 "미국인들은 요즘 개인정보 이슈에 민감하다. 곧 EU의 GDPR(개인정보보호 규정)을 모델 삼아 관련 규제를 정비할 것"이라고 설명했다. 이어 "개인의 데이터를 수집하는 수많은 기업들이 이에 대한 사건·사고에 부딪힐 것"이라며 "이미 많은 기업들이 개인정보 이슈를 집중적으로 다루는 사내변호사를 고용하고 있다"고 말했다.
또 AI도 유망 분야로 꼽았다. 그는 "제조, 유통, 서비스 등 다양한 산업의 전방위에 AI가 투입되고 있다. 새로운 규제들이 생겨나며 엄청난 법률 수요를 만들어낼 것"이라고 전망했다.
이어 "'공정거래'도 주목해야 한다"며 "첨단 기술, ESG 등 분야에서 (공정거래 이슈에 관한) 더 많은 정부 계획과 조치가 실시되고 있다. 바이든 정부에서는 이미 기후 변화에 관한 조치들이 다수 시행됐다."고 말했다.
코로나 팬데믹 영향 어느 곳에서든
일할 수 있게 배려
2020년부터 코로나 팬데믹이 전 세계를 강타했다. 글로벌 로펌을 운영하는 입장에서 어떤 영향이 있었는지 물었다.
퀸 대표는 "일단 원격 근무가 늘어나며 사무실의 개념이 바뀌었다. 변호사도, 고객들도 효율적인 원격 업무를 선호한다."며 "올해부터 우리 로펌은 변호사가 회사에 오지 않고 원하는 어느 곳에서든 일할 수 있도록 하는 정책을 시행했다"며 "대신 자기 방을 배정받기 원하는 변호사는 주 3회 이상 회사에 출근하게 했다. 그랬더니 LA 사무소의 경우 파트너 절반 이상이 자신의 방을 포기했다."고 말했다.
이어 "한편 젊은 변호사들은 회사에서 주변의 선배들로부터 일을 배울 기회가 줄어들었다"며 "이런 교육 경험을 대체할만한 방안을 고심하다 '퀸 엠마뉴엘 아카데미'를 열었다. 70개 이상의 프로그램과 멘토링을 진행 중이다."라고 했다.
코로나 팬데믹은 소강상태에 접어들었지만 전 세계는 이제 금리 인상, 우크라이나 전쟁 등 또다른 위험을 직면했다. 퀸 대표에게 법조계의 전망에 대해 물었다.
그는 "주기적인 경기 침체가 있을 때마다 무수한 파산과 구조조정이 있었다"며 "최근에는 탈세계화를 추구하는 나라도 있어 (법조인 입장에서) 리스크가 상존하는 것은 사실"이라고 말했다.
이어 "그러나 변화와 혼란이 있을 때마다 이를 평화적으로 해결하는 법조인의 역할은 더욱 중요해진다. 우리 로펌은 우크라이나가 러시아의 침략 행위에 대해 유럽인권재판소에 제기한 국가 간 소송에서 우크라이나를 대리하는 프로보노를 하고 있다."며 "변화의 시기에 변호사들의 업무와 역할은 오히려 커질 것"이라고 답했다.
변화·혼란의 시기 평화적 해결하는
법조인 역할 커져
최근 한국 기업들이 성장하며, 저작권 등을 둘러싼 국제 분쟁도 늘어나고 있다. 한국 기업을 위한 조언을 묻자 그는 "한국은 작지만 세계 10위권의 경제 대국이며, 한국 기업들은 해외 시장에 빠르게 적응해 이제 새 도약을 하고 있다"며 "여러 나라 문화에 대한 이해가 깊은 변호사들과 파트너 관계를 유지하며 시의적절한 도움을 받는 것이 좋다"고 조언했다.
이어 "한국의 대기업들은 여태 지적재산권 소송 등을 방어하는 입장이었지만, 더 큰 성장을 위해 공격적인 소송 전략을 취하는 것도 고려할 필요가 있다"고 강조했다. 소송이 성장을 위한 비즈니스 전략이 될 수 있다는 취지다.
한국 사무소를 열 계획이 있냐는 질문에 대해서는 "우리는 한국 기업들의 해외 분쟁을 돕는다. 그래서 한국 안에 변호사를 두지 않고도 업무를 할 수 있었다"며 "항상 새로운 기회를 찾고 있기 때문에 한국 사무소 개소도 고려하고 있지만, 업무의 성격이 크게 달라지지는 않을 것"이라고 설명했다.
마지막으로 그에게 설립자로서 앞으로의 계획을 물었다. 그는 퀸 엠마누엘이 최고의 로펌으로 평가받는 지금의 상태에 만족한다고 말했다. 그러면서 "얼마 전에는 한 설문조사에서 '소송 상대방으로 가장 마주치고 싶지 않은 로펌'에 꼽혔다(웃음)"며 "의뢰인들은 분쟁을 조기에 종식시킬 강력한 로펌을 원한다. 우리에게 그런 능력이 있다는 것은 자랑스러운 일이다. 이런 명성을 지켜가고 싶다"고 덧붙였다.
다음은 퀸 대표 인터뷰 원문 요약
1. Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP started with a small group of lawyers and now has grown into a global law firm with 27 offices and more than 900 lawyers worldwide. I wonder how you managed that. What is the key of Quinn Emanuel’s growth?
= We actually started with four lawyers in Los Angeles and we're now about thirty offices in eleven countries over nine hundred lawyers. And I think focusing on quality and talents has been the key to our success and our growth, and not compromising on quality.
Law firms, the only asset they have are the talents and quality of the lawyers, and the legal advice that they are able to give. So it's been the focus I think, getting the best possible people of young people out of the best law school and very selectively recruiting people who would be great additions laterally from other firms.
And the other thing I'd say is that we're always opportunistic, always looking for new opportunities. We have an office in Doha, a lot of people would think that those are unlikely or surprising places for a litigation firms to have offices. But we saw an opportunity there and it's been very successful. So I think always anything is possible, any opportunity needs to be assessed in terms of what the potential is.
2. Quinn Emanuel is noted for being "the global litigation powerhouse". What is Quinn Emanuel's litigation strategies leading the lawsuit to victory?
= Start with high quality people as I said people with great legal talent. And then in the litigation and the kind of work that we do that's in the high end complex large Stakes litigation, there really aren't any short cuts. You have to have dedication.
So I would say, first it`s legal talent, focus, and commitments to getting the best possible result to our clients. From the very beginning of our firm, our approach (and) our thought always was that if a client would hire us once for a matte, we would do such a good job, get such a great result at a fair cost, so that client would always want to come back and would become a repeat client. So we get the next matter, to next matter. That has been our goal. I think to a large degree we`ve been able to achieve that.
3. Could you elaborate more about where you put your focus on?
= It's not a matter of turning over every stone, talking to every possible witness, looking at every conceivable document. You actually have to be early on investing the time to do some thinking about the strategy. What is the best path given the facts that you inherit in the case to victory or the best possible result? Think about that in the beginning and put your efforts to that. And if you do that before the other side does, you're going to be able to get ahead of them. And you will probably be able to get some rulings or some admissions that you otherwise wouldn't have gotten. because you have the advantage of having figured out what will ultimately matter.
4. Quinn Emanuel mainly focuses on international disputes or litigation case. What made you choose this operation model and also I wonder if you have any plan for diversifying law firm`s working area such as consultations or if you'd like to stick to the current strategy.
= When the four lawyers who started our firm we were all litigators. So that's what we knew. And you know early on our focus was to get work and stay busy. We say in english, keep the wolf from the door. That is what we wanted. We needed to stay busy and focus. We were just litigators, and we were very focusing on the work that we had, and trying to make sure we're getting great results for our clients.
But as our firm grew, we came to realize that focusing on just one discipline that litigation or disputes work was very very powerful. And our message to the business and legal community was a very simple one. We're not trying to be all things to all people. We do only one thing and we think we're the best at that. So it's a bit simple message and we think it's a strong message. We focused on only one thing and we're the best at that.
We all are litigators and we all understand what we do, what each other does. And I think there's also a great opportunity for sharing of ideas. and things that we have learned. People learn about what others are doing. And so we're able to help each other, improve and stay on top. People are always asking anybody by email. Anybody have an example of this, or anybody have a precedent for this, or any experience with that? So it's a sharing of information within the firm.
Those are why we've stuck to this model. And it's been for us so successful that I don't see us changing. I just don't think it would make sense for us to do anything besides litigation.
5. I assume the COVID-19 may have affected the operation of global law firms. I wonder if you had any difficulties you had to go through, and how you handle this COVID-19 issue.
= Of course we had to learn to work in a different way with people all working remotely. We have learned that there's so much that can be done remotely. And we`ve learned the power of the technology and that it isn't always necessary for people to get in the same room together. We routinely now have court heraings remotely, and arbitration herings remotely. So I think there are permanent changes in how law practice. I don't think we'll go back.
At our firm we announced several months ago an indefinite work from anywhere policy that any lawyer can work from anywhere. A lot of firms have said you need to come back to the office three days a week or five days a week or you need to be in the city where you have a physical office. We've gone the opposite. We have no idea where people are really unless we need to know. We've told people that for the infinite future anyone can work for from anywhere.
It helped us in recruiting as well. Because you know there are some obviously many cities where we don't have physical offices but there are some terrific litigators who would be great additions to our firm and they have reasons for being where they are. We wouldn't be able to recruit them without this policy.
Now it also creates some challenge, obviously in terms of mentoring and training of younger lawyers. Because the way all of us learned was being at an office together and seeing other people walking into the office next door. We're trying to replicate the mentoring that we all grew up under.
6. The world is recovering from COVID-19 Pandemic. However There are many problems around the world, such as the issue of interest rate hikes and the aftermath of the Ukraine war. How do you think the legal services industry will be affected by this difficult situation? As a leader of global law firms, is there any advice for the legal service provider who are going through this tough time?
= Obviously there are risks in the world today. There's a lot of sources of disruption that we all read about every day which is unsettling. I mean you hear people talk about a de-globalization that countries are more focused on themselves and you know the world is start growing apart. Obviously as the economy is slowed down, there's going to be the recession and less liquidity, there will be more distress on many companies.
And there'll be needs for lawyers to do what we do to resolve disputes peacefully as possible working out without formal proceedings. So I mean in general in times of change, there is more opportunity to do the kind of work that every do what I would say.
You know we've represented Ukraine in the European court of human rights in Strasburg in the case the Ukraine has brought against Russia relating to the invasion. It's a probono project that we're running of our London office that we are very proud of where we're going to be seeking declarations concerning Russia's violation of Ukraine human rights and ultimately seeking relief for that.
7. What business areas are promising in the recent legal market?
= In antitrust and competition law, on almost in every market there's an increasing importance, especially in technology industries. In the US the Biden administration has done more enforcement across the board, various agencies the ftc the fcc there have been a number of initiatives relating to for example climate change disclosures, ESG`s disclosures. There's been more enforcement action relating to antitrust and competition claims.
One area that is we can really become an increasing importance I think is privacy. In the EU they really care about it and they let EU pass legislation, the Gdpr which you may be familiar with. And the US has been kind of slower along the way but it's becoming increasingly importantly in the US privacy model. And I think companies are going to see more claims relating to privacy and there will be more large judgements, settlements, claims brought against companies for privacy violation. So I think privacy is going to be an increasing area, companies are going to have more exposure.
I think another area where it's going to become increasingly important is A.I, artificial intelligence. Any time you have data, you have a potential of AI application whether it's optimizing, manufacturing processes or hiring of employees. Any time there's data you can apply A.I to that. And that change, that recognition is really starting now. There is going to be a huge demand for regulation of A.I.
8. As Korean companies are expanding to the international stage, disputes are also increasing. What do you think Korean companies should consider when conducting international disputes?
= Korean and (Korea's) economy is amazing because it's a small country and tenth largest gdp in the world. To me it's a fascinating subject.
I think that the challenges faced by the Korean companies from a legal risk standpoint aren't really different than those faced by companies anywhere. I think you should partner with the right advisers. The advisers have to understand Korean culture and then be able to advice on the different culture. If you have the right adviser then you don`t have to panic, there's no need to scared. There's solutions if you have the right people.
And I think now that we are global companies so we can be more aggressive. We should be defending our IP rights and we should be aggressively going out there acting as a global company. That's what global companies, leading companies do. We don't just react together. We have to go and be aggressive.
9. Do you have any plans to open an office in Korea?
= It's something we talk to our Korean clients. We asked them "would it made a difference if we had an office here"? And the answer has been "no". It really wouldn't make a difference. Because if we did open an office it wouldn't be to do domestic Korean litigation work and appear in Korean courts. That just wouldn't make sense for us. We tend to work side by side, shoulder to shoulder with Korean law firms. It's very important to our practice that we have good relations with the major Korean law firms.
The work that we're doing is advising Korean companies on legal issues and representing them in disputes outside Korea. And we can do that without having lawyers on the ground here. Well I think Korea (office), that's definitely something we would consider. But up to this point it hasn't seemed necessary. It's a discussion that we have from time to time.
10. You are currently running a YouTube channel and a podcast. How come did you start it?
= During COVID-19 pandemic we was working from home and people felt lonely. So it's a way of trying to have activities that people tuned in on and sort of learning or talking about the same things. I started to do a series of zoomed interviews. And they were just prominent people like a governor, a scientist, leading lawyers. I enjoyed doing it and it seems like people enjoyed as well.
11. What are your future plans for Quinn Emanuel?
= It's great to have people say nice things. Like, a lot of people say we are the number one litigation firm in the world. There is a consulting firm that does a survey every year and asked the 300 companies what law firm lawyers do you least want to see on the other side. And last several years, we've been named the most feared law firm in the world which in our line of work, we consider it a good thing. Because most clients don't want to hire litigators who are wall flowers. They want a law firm to represent them forcefully and achieve an early resolution of the case.
So the challenge for us is to maintain that commitment and ethos across the firm as we grow. That will enable us do that people continue to say nice things about us. And that is something that we have to do everyday.