Adriaan van Zijl

Legal counsel

'As legal counsel, I am now involved in important cases, I regularly give unsolicited advice and I am in regular contact with the bank's clients and their advisers. I missed that when I was a lawyer.'

Customised services to help corporate clients pay

'Six years ago, I started working for ABN AMRO as legal counsel – a bedrijfsjurist in Dutch. I mainly focus on restructuring and insolvencies for corporate clients. If the risks of a credit increase, the bank focuses more on it. There are many legal issues involved. For example, I am involved in negotiating credit terms, supervising transactions and discussions with trustees.'

No two days are the same

'The best strategy to take very much depends on the type of client and the situation. Sometimes I work on a long, complex negotiation process with a large corporate, which may involve restructuring part of the debt. The next day, I'm trying to manage a discussion with a trustee about the bank's collateral.'

'Each client and each challenge requires a customised approach. Whether negotiation, mediation or litigation is required, I make sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible. That is what makes my work so varied and challenging.'

High level

'You could view our Legal team as the centre of expertise in our field within the bank. Colleagues come to us with questions and problems because they know we have the knowledge and experience to help them. That is why it is important that we give sound advice every time. Not only does it need to be legally accurate – it also needs to be useful in practice. This ensures that we maintain high standards.'

Lawyer vs legal counsel

'Before I worked for the bank, I worked as a lawyer at a large law firm in Amsterdam. I was often called in to carry out a small part of a legal process. As legal counsel, I am involved in the entire process and I have an important role in establishing the strategy and final result. That suits me well. I also enjoy having lots of contact with the bank's clients. As a lawyer, you don't have that as much. Moreover, as legal counsel – and especially at such a large organisation as ABN AMRO – you have more opportunities to focus on the work that interests you.'

You decide how you grow

'It's also nice to be able to choose your own area of interest with a view to your knowledge-based development. I can often decide what work to focus on: do I want to improve in restructuring or do I want to focus on the larger insolvency cases? With over one hundred experienced lawyers around you – twelve of whom are in my own team – there is always something to learn from someone.'

'You also have opportunities for continued learning at the bank. For example, I took a course on financial economics for insolvency lawyers at Erasmus University. Additionally, you learn by constantly staying up to date with all of the relevant regulations and case law – because your own work requires it and because we regularly give presentations to our bank colleagues about it.'

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