Q&A with Jason Hungerford

Sanctions practitioner and Norton Rose Fulbright partner, Jason is a member of the Law Society’s Money Laundering Task Force.

Jason HungerfordYou're talking to a friend of a friend at a party. How do you describe what you do?

Depends on whether I’m interested in having the conversation! If I am, I advise on financial crime matters and have conducted investigations in Russia, China, Brazil, etc… if I’m not, I’m 'just a lawyer'. Nothing kills a conversation like that!

What was your first job?

I was a lifeguard at a summer camp.

If you hadn't become a solicitor, what would you have done?

Hard to say, but probably either a professional baseball player or Hollywood actor.

19 May – Did you watch the Cup final or the Royal Wedding?

The wedding. To an immigrant like me, the royal family is an anachronistic peculiarity, but it is hugely unifying. And, without either Dulwich Hamlet or Crystal Palace playing, it’s hard to get excited about club football.

Share some great advice you've been given.

My father recently retired after a long career as a dentist. He has told me on a few occasions that he saw two types of older patients in the course of his practice: one type seemed generally content with how life had turned out, despite its ups and downs; the other seemed bitter, as though they had been cheated or the world had been a disappointment. I’ve always taken that as good advice: to enjoy life, to set expectations appropriately and to not take very many things too seriously. The most content and engaging people I know will say that they are 'just happy to be here'.

Favourite city?

London, because it feels like – and very well may be – the centre of the world. A close second is San Francisco, but because from there it feels like you’re looking over the world’s edge.

Favourite TV box set?

The Detectorists. Peaceful, funny and slightly melancholy, which is how I – with great admiration – view the English countryside in which the show takes place.

Seaside or mountains?

That is a difficult choice, but there is nothing like the expanse of ocean to clear the mind.

What are the main issues for sanctions practitioners?

There are two main challenges, both of which are related to delivering practical advice in a technically complex area of law. First, communicating concern at the right volume where the risk of violation is unclear. This arises especially where the connection to sanctions targets is quite indirect, as well as in US 'secondary' sanctions. Second, building in the right level of foreign policy analysis and prognostication regarding geopolitical developments. Traditionally, neither is a lawyer’s domain, but in the sanctions world both are critical to both proper analysis and our clients’ forward planning.

Why did you want to join the Money Laundering Task Force?

Sanctions and AML are set to become more and more important to our profession and our clients, which is demonstrated in statements by the UK government, other governments, and non-governmental stakeholders. Regulators have succeeded to some extent in creating a largely self-policing environment – leveraging banks and insurers, in particular – to make sanctions not only a legal issue but also a practical, operational one. That pressure dynamic extends to law firms as well, which is why I am keen to take part in that discussion with colleagues and the government, via the MLTF, and lend my expertise, for the benefit of the profession.