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Walter Stahr

Walter Stahr 2006-11-01 Staff Writer <bold>Career path:</bold> BA in Political Science, Stanford University; JD cum laude, Harvard Law School; Masters in Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government; editor-in-chief of the <italic>Harvard Environmental Law Review</italic>. Lawyer at Cl

Career path: BA in Political Science, Stanford University; JD cum laude, Harvard Law School; Masters in Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government; editor-in-chief of the Harvard Environmental Law Review. Lawyer at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, 1982-1990, Washington and Hong Kong. Counsel to Chairman Richard Breeden, Securities and Exchange Commission, 1990-1995. Senior legal counsel at Fidelity Investments in Hong Kong, 1995-1998. Joined EMP Global – an emerging markets-focused private equity firm – in 1999 as senior counsel for Asia; appointed the firm's general counsel in September 2005.

Asia troubleshooter: Stahr was brought on board EMP soon after the Asian financial crisis and tasked with sorting out disputes and exits for EMP's two Asia funds. ?Not long after I got here, people realized that I could also help the second fund – that was in its investment phase – and avoid some of the problems met by the first fund by putting in better shareholder agreements and documents,? says Stahr. Now Stahr represents EMP Global in the firm's overall ongoing relationships and fund formation activities; the firm also has in-house counsel advising on Latin America and Africa.

Through the DC grapevine: Upon moving back to DC from Hong Kong in 1998, EMP and Stahr met through the grapevine. ?We both thought it was a great fit – [EMP was] in serious need of Asian legal expertise, and I have a lot of contacts and experience in that part of the world,? says Stahr. ?A lot of their key decisionmakers are based here in DC, so it was more convenient for them to hire someone local, rather than to supervise someone [in Asia] at a distance.?

Encounters in the emerging markets: According to Stahr, the disputes and conflicts are just more a part of life in the emerging markets than, say, in the US or Europe. ?The outcomes of disputes are more unpredictable, and the delays can be outrageous,? says Stahr. ?I remember when the lawyer who was hiring me said, ?Perhaps your litigation background may be helpful.? That proved to be an immense understatement, not so much in terms of actually getting to litigation, but having to get to the edge of litigation to get to what you want.?

An author on the side: Even with his busy career, Stahr found time to pen the biographical work John Jay: Founding Father (Hambledon & London, 2005). At first, he worked on the book on nights and weekends upon his return to DC from Hong Kong; then in 2001, he asked the senior management of EMP for a sabbatical to work on the book. ?There are advantages to working in a small place with less rules and regulations about that type of thing, and I am grateful to them,? says Stahr. To date, his book has sold roughly 10,000 copies and counting.