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Sven Dumoulin

General Counsel and member of Akzo Nobel executive committee, lawyer
Sven Dumoulin

Graduated in 1993

Specialization: Dutch law

Final-year supervisor: Prof. L. Timmerman

Do you stay in touch with former classmates? Yes

Research and practice

After completing my studies in Groningen, I was a research trainee in the department of Company Law and Commercial Law in the Faculty of Law. In 1999, I was awarded my PhD for a study of decision-making in legal persons, with Vino Timmerman as my supervisor. I then went to work as a lawyer for Buruma Maris (and Houthoff). Seven years of practising law took me to Unilever, where several years later I became Group Secretary of Unilever NV and Unilever PLC and worked in London and Rotterdam. Since 2010, I’ve been General Counsel of AkzoNobel, based in Amsterdam. In addition, from 2003 to 2005 and 2005 to 2007, I was part-time professor of International Commercial Law at the UG and Tilburg University.

‘Love of the law, in theory and practice’

A love of the law, both in theory and in practice, has been the common thread throughout my career. At the heart of my motivation is that I feel at home in the law: it fits me like an old jacket and I’m always finding something new in the pockets. Working as a lawyer in an international company energizes me. The job of General Counsel is both multifaceted and demanding. It offers many challenges and just as much satisfaction. I’m involved in all the more important legal matters in the company. I work with talented lawyers inside and outside the company and both in the field of law and in more economic, commercial and strategic fields. We are constantly making decisions based on legal considerations in a wide range of issues: at home and abroad and in virtually all areas of the law. All of this is ‘people work’, which often boils down to collaboration, making decisions and implementing them.

Fond memories of study period

Exploring the legal and academic world, inspiring lectures by eminent lawyers and the harmonious atmosphere in the legal Faculty – I have fond memories of all of that. Just as I do of the Groningen landscape and the friends that I made during my studies. We would leave the café and brave the snow to look at our exam marks that were stuck to the window of the University. I still have weekly contact with my group of friends from those years and we arrange to meet every year in Groningen. I also have contact with the many lawyers who I got to know at the Faculty. These contacts are very precious to me. The Faculty of Law is therefore very special and it is a privilege to have been associated with it. I hope that current and future students will feel this as strongly as I do.

‘You learn something every day in the law’

My advice to prospective students is this: work with inspiring and talented people. Observe them closely and learn from them. Find pleasure in your work, take your work seriously, and perhaps the people too. If you do this, your talents will be noticed: make no mistake about that. You will then develop your own style automatically. The quality of the work lies in the cases and in the people involved. The law is about the broad sweep and about the important details. You learn something every day in the law.

Last modified:16 July 2019 1.32 p.m.
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