Pitch Best Young M&A Lawyer 2020: Marieke Pols, NautaDutilh
What are the specialties of this talent?
Marieke is a key member of our M&A team. She works mainly on transactions involving venture capital (investments) and exits and plays an important role in NautaDutilh's fast-growing life sciences and tech practice. Marieke sets high standards, is always in control and has a great capacity for empathy. She quickly and easily builds a bond with clients, who appreciate her dedication, enthusiasm and thorough knowledge. She has worked on the following deals, amongst others: Vinted/United Wardrobe (M&A) – advising Vinted on its acquisition of United Wardrobe Bluebee/Illumina (M&A) – advising Bluebee on its exit sale to Illumina Airbnb/Tiqets (VC) – advising Airbnb on its investment in Tiqets Northsea Therapeutics (VC) – advising Northsea Therapeutics on its Series B investment round. NewAmsterdam Pharma/Dezima Pharma (M&A) – advising NewAmsterdam Pharma on its acquisition of Dezima Pharma. Salvia BioElectronics (VC) – advising the investor consortium of Inkef, Panakes and SHS on its investment in Salvia Bioelectronics VarmX (VC) – advising VarmX on its Series B investment round Various investments for Vopak Ventures (Falcker, A3D, Performance Rotors) Fairphone – advising Fairphone on its investment round and crowdfunding.
How does the talent distinguish itself from its peers?
Marieke provides advice that seamlessly meets the client's needs. Based on the client's level of knowledge, experience and background, she actively determines the best approach, in terms of both substance, for example by including an explanatory note on Dutch law for foreign clients, and form. For example Vinted, a young business, she presented her advice in the form of a concise PowerPoint presentation instead of a lengthy Word document. This was greatly appreciated by the client. By gaining a thorough understanding of each client and its information need, Marieke is often able to answer questions before the client asks them.Marieke's clients include many start-ups and scale-ups which don't yet have in-house counsel or an M&A director. As a result, she works directly with their CEOs and board members, who typically do not have a legal background. Marieke knows how to translate legalese and how to address commercial issues and legal challenges so the client knows exactly where they stand. When working with these types of companies, it is important to instil confidence and certainty, and Marieke is able to do so better than anyone, according to a partner. Marieke's ability to build a constructive and personal relationship with the client's C-suite was also mentioned by the CFO of one of our clients in an interview in De Jurist. In this interview, the CFO for instance stated that Marieke was her go-to lawyer for a major deal.
What impact does the talent have within the organization?
Marieke provides the junior members of her team with substantial feedback and guidance during transactions. She lends a hand where necessary but also ensures sufficient leeway. Junior associates like working with her. No matter how difficult a deal is, Marieke remains positive and pleasant and motivates her team. She understands the hierarchy and roles within the organisation but does not hesitate to speak her mind if she disagrees with something. ‘Marieke feels a great responsibility towards her clients', according to a partner. ‘She always wants to know why we give certain advice. She trusts her own opinion and is not afraid to share it.'
What impact does the talent have outside the organization?
Because she mainly sits at the table with men when it comes to life sciences and tech deals, Marieke took the initiative of setting up a network of 'legal' women in life sciences. The goal is to increase the visibility of women in the sector and create a sense of shared experience and purpose. To this end, she organised an outing to the Concertgebouw with the group so that the members – many of whom did not know each other beforehand – could connect in person. She is also a member of our pro bono committee and is working on the development of standard documentation using artificial intelligence.
To what extent does the talent makes the difference to clients?
Clients feel comfortable with Marieke. She speaks their language and makes them feel at ease. They trust her and know they can leave things in her competent hands. She shoulders the client's burden and exceeds expectations in that respect. Marieke clearly indicates when more specialised input is needed, which instils confidence. Clients appreciate her can-do attitude. One client comments that ‘Marieke always creates a cheerful atmosphere and brings a ton of positive energy, also when a pressure-cooker deal requires us to work after midnight.’
Why does the talent deserves this nomination?
Marieke combines the knowledge required of a good M&A lawyer with very good communication skills, commercial savviness, extensive sector knowledge and empathy. She goes the extra mile to deliver the best result and has a keen sense of what the client or team needs, which leads to good relationships with colleagues and clients. Marieke is a true 21st-century M&A lawyer who inspires junior members of her team, partners and clients alike.