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Andrew McCormick, Senior US Counsel, eToro

Alumni spotlight

Andrew McCormick

Senior US Counsel, eToro

At heart, Andrew McCormick is a performer and brings much of that joie de vivre to the workplace. He joined Eversheds Sutherland in 2010, working as a financial litigator lawyer before going in-house to E*TRADE in 2016, then to Morgan Stanley, and most recently to eToro, a fintech company, in January 2022.

Andrew says his time in our Washington, DC office was the launchpad for his mission to make the law a more creative profession. He also credits the firm for supporting him during one of the toughest seasons of his life.


Why did you join Eversheds Sutherland?

As a 23-year-old, I was aware of all these firms with fancy names, but I didn’t want to work at a place where I couldn’t excel as a person outside of work. Someone suggested I look at Eversheds Sutherland as a “me” kind of firm. When I interviewed with them, I found out that one of the partners was in a rock 'n' roll band and I was hooked.

How do you reflect on your time with us?

I cherish my time there tremendously because I could be myself, learn a ton, and I met so many great people. I don’t think I could’ve had a better associate experience.

I’m not the type to just show up for a job, do my time, and then leave. I’ve always loved the social side of work too: I coached our softball team, and organized sporting events, happy hours, and karaoke (probably too much of that). We did interesting work and had a lot of fun too.

And you were involved with the firm’s “Sutherland Comfort” band?

Yes! There’s a big thing in DC every summer called “Battle of the Law Firm Bands”. The event raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for the homeless. I’m a performer at heart and I was the rapper in the band. Our lead singer was Naseem Nixon, a fellow alum who is a dynamite singer, person, and lawyer.

I’ve been buddies with Naseem since we had our very first summer associate lunch together. We made quite the team. I’m six foot three and would come out singing rap songs in ridiculous costumes. Naseem was…not quite six foot three…and would come out crushing classic rock songs in a sparkly dress.

We once did a cool mashup of Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” and Queen’s “Under Pressure”, which has the same hook line. I came out wearing gold MC Hammer pants. It was hyped! You can see a clip on YouTube. I ended up meeting the real Vanilla Ice whose manager had seen the clip and invited me to meet them for dinner.

Andrew McCormick and Naseem Nixon performing in the “Sutherland Comfort” band

Andrew McCormick and Naseem Nixon performing in the “Sutherland Comfort” band

Why did you leave Eversheds Sutherland?

I had two-year old twins and a six-month-old baby at the time (a 4th showed up later) and the big law lifestyle impacted my ability to be the best husband and dad I wanted to be. I also loved the idea of spreading my creative wings even more and working directly with business partners to build cool products.

What was it like at E*TRADE?

I loved it. Eversheds Sutherland taught me how to be an effective lawyer without losing my creative and adventurous spirit and I built upon that at E*TRADE. We had a tremendous legal team full of brilliant professionals, but also really fun people.

I’m so thankful my leaders let me chase my passions. I even got the green light to do legal trainings about serious topics, but I would sing songs or tell jokes during the presentations. It’s so important for me as an in-house lawyer to be approachable and for what I say to be memorable and I love using creativity and humor to accomplish those goals.

You then joined eToro?

I was having a good time at Morgan Stanley (which had acquired E*TRADE), but eToro was an adventure I wanted to chase. eToro is a big name overseas, but is just getting started here in the US. I loved the idea of moving beyond litigation and handling all US legal issues. We have big hopes and dreams here and a great team.

In-house lawyers often say they need to keep their advice short and sweet. Is that true for you?

Absolutely. Lawyers – and especially former litigators like me – are often paranoid by nature and may prefer to write every relevant fact and risk in some lengthy memo. There may be some brilliant stuff in there, but if it’s too long or too boring, no one may actually read it.

I like to pull my thoughts into quick and hopefully engaging stories and actionable conclusions. My colleagues typically don’t want to hear all the complicated legalese. So if I only have a few moments during a broader meeting to explain a very important legal matter, I better make every second count and tell my story in a captivating and digestible way.

Those meetings might not be as exciting as performing in a band, but there are some similarities that have served me well.

Are you still in contact with Eversheds Sutherland?

Yes, even in times of crisis the firm has looked out for me. In January 2020, my wife was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer and given an absurdly low chance of surviving. The reaction from my former colleagues was amazing, even though I hadn’t been with the firm for more than four years.

People came by with dinners and all kinds of other wonderful things. Bruce Bettigole, who was my partner mentor, and others sent me so many encouraging notes during that season. Carmen Brun, another of my mentors who now runs the US Konexo program, even reached out to my wife directly.

Thankfully, my wife is crushing cancer these days. But that was the worst situation I had ever faced, and it meant so much that the Eversheds Sutherland community supported me.

If you would like to add Andrew McCormick to your network, you can connect with him via LinkedIn.

When I first qualified as a corporate lawyer, I was asked to assist the Pensions Partner as she was going on maternity leave. I didn’t have any knowledge of pensions law but, as I got to grips with it, I found it immensely rewarding. It has intellectual challenge, but also a strong human element, as pension savings are often the most important lifetime investment for individuals, after possibly their home, if they own it.

 

What does being the Pensions Ombudsman entail?

 

The Pensions Ombudsman is an independent arms-length body from government. I’m the Chief Executive and Accounting Officer and I make judicial determinations on pensions complaints, both public and private. They can only be successfully challenged if my interpretation of the law is wrong, they cannot challenge my interpretation of the facts. I also determine complaints or disputes concerning decisions made by the Pension Protection Fund and the Financial Assistance Scheme.

 

I’ve recently set up a pilot – The Pensions Dishonesty Unit – to deal with the many pensions scams which are sadly occurring all too often. The unit is currently investigating a number of cases where around £50m has been lost. Each case requires me to hold an oral hearing.

 

It sounds as though you have a lot on your plate!

 

Well, I can’t say ‘no’ to a challenge, so for the past three years I have been a pro bono Trustee Board Director of the Action for Children Pension Fund. I also own a successful children’s day nursery which is rated outstanding by Ofsted, and I’ve been appointed to The Pensions Regulator’s independent Determinations Panel.

 

However, I’ll be taking some time back for myself when I stop working full time next January, when my term as the Pensions Ombudsman comes to an end.

 

You spent almost sixteen years at Eversheds Sutherland. How would you describe the firm’s culture?

 

One of the things I’ve loved about Eversheds is its diversity. It attracts so many different types of people. You don’t have to come from any particular school or university and it’s not just the lawyers, it’s everyone. That matters because its clients are from all walks of life so it’s important that its lawyers and business staff have the same cross-section of diversity.

 

Your tenure coincided with a period of rapid international expansion. Can you talk a little bit about that growth?

 

It has been the firm’s continuing ambition to expand its legal network in order to be a major world-wide provider of legal services. The firm has many international clients so it was necessary, if it was to continue to grow, to be able to provide a seamless service, especially in Hong Kong, Asia and the United States. It has now achieved that.

 

Although the firm has expanded globally, one of the keys to its success is the way in which it has kept its heart beating in a ‘localised’ way. I’ve always felt that it was a vital part of Eversheds Sutherland’s continuing strength and makes it different from most the other international law firms.

 

What are your most vivid memories from your time here?

 

My strongest memories are from the many volunteering initiatives which really underlined the firm’s ethos. Of course, it’s vital that the firm is profitable but it’s also really important that this is balanced by using some of its considerable resources to support the vulnerable in society. 

 

This, I’m pleased to say, it has always done. I noticed this especially when, as the Senior London Partner, I was involved in and also led many volunteering activities, helping the firm to lead the way as a ‘good corporate citizen’.

 

One of my proudest moments was when Prince, now King Charles, appointed me as his London Ambassador for volunteering in 2009. It was as a result of my organising the Business in the Community’s Give and Gain Day. All our offices took part, and there were 3,000 plus employees from around 300 companies across the country participating in a day of volunteering, helping others in many different ways.

 

What is your approach to leadership?

 

As a leader, you need to step back and think through the pros and the cons of the decision that’s being made and who might be affected by it. I also strongly believe that when working through an issue, it’s important to be humble, keep an open mind and listen to other people's opinions. Lawyers like to think they have all the answers, but often the best solution is reached by consulting with others.

 

What advice would you give partners approaching retirement and seeking non-executive directorship roles?

 

When submitting a CV, don’t just look at roles within your particular specialism. Include any experience that will show the broader value that you’ll bring, including interpersonal and organisational skills.

 

The first NED appointment is always the trickiest as there will be dozens of people with non-executive experience. It may be best to first apply for pro bono roles, for example, at non-profit organisations, charities, etc., in order to build your non-executive CV. Also, contact a number of head-hunters and consider subscribing to major head-hunters’ notification lists.

 

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

 

I’m not sure that I’ve ever been given any! However, it’s important to wipe out thoughts like, “Oh I shouldn’t really be here”, or, “I shouldn’t really be doing this”.

 

As Senior London Partner, I invited a number of black students from a comprehensive school in East London to experience life at a City law firm. I told them I’d been to a London comprehensive school too, and here I was, head of the London office. I wanted to show them what they could achieve and offered them work experience in different areas of the firm.

 

We don’t all start from an equal place, so it’s about being focused and deciding on what you want in life, accessing any additional resources needed to help you, then really going for it. There will be difficulties along the way so you need a degree of determination and self-confidence. And, of course, you need to embrace the opportunities you’re given.

 

If you would like to add Andrew McCormick to your network, you can connect with him via LinkedIn.