When we speak to Jones Day London litigation partner Craig Shuttleworth, he's in the middle of juggling conference calls to the Caribbean and a pro bono case.
"A collection of Cambodian farmers have just had their land taken away from them for sugar production," he explains. "We're acting for them against the global food manufacturing corporation Tate & Lyle who, though they didn't originally take the land, have benefitted from the appropriation, we're claiming."
Says Craig: "Jones Day's disputes business is one of the largest in the world. Our work covers everything, from energy disputes to white collar crime."
The varied matters taken on by the London litigation practice also include disputes in the derivatives markets and the construction sector.
At an international level, Craig's department does a lot of work involving Russia and the former Soviet bloc, and there's also an increasing number of investment treaty disputes between investors who've sunk money into a particular country and a government that has failed to protect their rights.
Despite the international scale and diversity of litigation work available at Jones Day's London office, Craig insists that it's still a nice "friendly size" for a global law firm. It's also a place that junior lawyers tend to stay at to build their career.
Craig, who's spent 26 years at the firm moving up the ranks says: "A quarter of the associates I started with on the same day have stayed at the firm and are now partners here too."
When it comes to trainees, Craig looks for someone who he'd like to work alongside at partner level. "It's because we see people who trained here as the backbone of the office."
Whether you're a trainee or a partner, working on litigation matters means there's often more legal nitty-gritty involved than in other practice areas. "On a litigation case," says Craig, "you get to spend time thinking about its legal underpinnings."
"For example, you have to take time to consider what the law is and how it's developing, which happens less often in, say, M&A."
"I'm also constantly thinking about how a case is going to appear to a judge or arbitrator and how my witnesses will perform - will they stand up under cross-examination?" It's this chance to drill down to the legal heart of a case that Craig enjoys the most.
From Russia with love
One of Craig's specialisms is white collar crime. "We do an awful lot of international fraud work in this office," says Craig. One of the most memorable cases he's worked on, and for which his team received much praise, involved Russian energy firm Sibir.
Craig and his team advised Sibir Energy in connection with a former director siphoning off over $400 million (£258 million)****to fraudulently aid a large shareholder in need of cash. Doing so involved bringing legal proceedings against the director and recovering the money that the company had lost.
"The most challenging aspect was the fact that the money had to be recovered from various assets," explains Craig. "They ranged from a large villa in France, reportedly worth several hundred million euros, and even a collection of Fabergé eggs in Germany!"
The Russian "minigarch" (as Craig calls him) in question might sound a lot like a Bond villain, but for Craig the seriousness of his fraud was very real.
"In order to recover the money, we had to use injunctions or other means to freeze the assets everywhere around the world. It got more complicated where these assets were part of other companies owned by the fraudster, which created ripple disputes and arbitrations over who owned the assets."
The case led to a wave of related proceedings in over ten jurisdictions and meant that Craig and his team were working with Jones Day lawyers in Moscow, Paris and New York.
The already well-publicised case attracted further media interest when Russian oil giant Gazprom made a takeover bid for Sibir. This added extra challenges to an already complex legal matter, but Craig and his team eventually recovered almost all of the money and won an award for their work in the process.
The big picture
The Sibir case lasted for two years, and there are still ripples of litigation taking place. At any other firm, trainees would often only see a particular stage of each case and it's a matter of luck whether your seat coincides with the most exciting bit.
However, the unique non-rotational training contract at Jones Day lets trainees choose (within reason) which types of legal work they'd like to take on, so they usually have the opportunity to see a case from beginning to end.
"Our training system doesn't spoon-feed you quite as much as that of other firms," says Craig, adding, "that's why we tend to go for people who are self-starters."
Jones Day's training scheme also encourages trainees to think broadly about the types of commercial legal work they can engage with, which opens up the possibility of moving round within the firm after qualification.
Certainly for Craig, working for Jones Day has given him a wealth of career opportunities: "I originally qualified into the property department," he reveals.
"But during the recession of the late 80's and early 90's all the legal work on construction began to be more focused on disputes. That was what really got me interested in this area of commercial law and eventually led me to where I am now."