Emily Lee, Partner, ZSA Legal Recruitment, interviews Isabelle Pierre, Associate General Counsel and Director of Legal for the International Operations of General Dynamics Land Systems Inc.
1. Why did you decide to become a lawyer?
I always liked writing and at one point thought I would become a journalist. I enjoyed philosophy and analytical work and have found that law is a good combination of the two.
2. What is the biggest professional challenge you have faced during your career?
One of the everlasting challenges of this profession is understanding your client and their business. If you don’t understand your client, their business and their motivations, you’ll miss the boat every time. Every client has a unique issue or a unique circumstance; law becomes the easy part but understanding the issue, doing a risk assessment and contextualizing your client’s problem are the more difficult tasks. You need to know your client every time, on every deal and in every situation.
3. If you could change one thing about the practice of law, what would it be?
I’m actually pretty happy with the practice of law; I don’t think I’d change anything. In-house practice has been the right mix of law and business for me.
4. What advice would you give to someone starting his/her career in law?
The advice I would give to someone starting their career in law is to find their passion; find the area of law and style of practice that appeals to you most. Not every area of law is right for everyone, but if you first find your passion, you will be setting yourself up for success.
5. What was the last good book you read/movie you saw?
I recently read ‘War and Peace’ by Leo Tolstoy. I’ve always enjoyed Tolstoy’s work. I’ve been taking a lot of long business trips lately and his writing is like a friendly voice to me; I find it comforting.
6. What is your favorite restaurant?
There are too many restaurants to pick only one! I like trying new things – sometimes you can get a wonderful surprise.
7. Where would you most like to travel?
When we travel, it’s usually to France to visit relatives. I also really enjoy Northern Africa; for our next vacation we are heading to Morocco. My husband, my stepdaughter and I will be renting a villa in Marrakesh. It’s going to be a wonderful trip.
8. If you were not a lawyer, what would you be doing?
If I weren’t a lawyer, I’d probably be a university professor teaching philosophy. Sometimes I still consider pursuing my Ph.D. in Philosophy – maybe as part of my retirement plan.
Isabelle Pierre is the Associate General Counsel and Director of Legal for the International Operations of General Dynamics Land Systems Inc. Ms. Pierre oversees the delivery of legal services in support of a business located across various locations in the U.S., Canada, Australia, North Africa and the Gulf Countries. Her responsibilities include oversight of the company’s anti-bribery compliance program.
Ms. Pierre holds a bachelor of law from the University of Montreal and was admitted to the Québec Bar in 1999. Ms. Pierre started her career in private practice as a labour and employment attorney.
Wishing to expand her practice, Ms. Pierre later joined GE Capital Canada where she held the position of Director of Documentation.
Ms. Pierre currently advises on public procurement, contracting and operations in various jurisdictions across all 5 continents and manages litigation. She is involved on negotiations of capital projects and strategic business alliances.