Asian Development Bank GC Committed to a Poverty-Free Region
When Christopher Stephens took a position in the Hong Kong office of now-defunct Coudert Brothers back in 1996, he and his wife thought their move abroad would be temporary. We didnt hang curtains for the first four years, says Stephens, who has been in Asia ever since. The recently appointed general counsel of Manilas Asian Development Bank (ADB) now calls the continent home.
Our children were born here, the best legal work in the world is here, its a fascinating and invigorating place to live, says Stephens, and weve put down roots here.
Stephens comes to the multilateral financial institution from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, where he was a partner from 2005 through the end of last year. His practice focused on project development and finance, mergers and acquisitions, and private equity transactions across the region. Stephens also previously worked in the region for Breed, Abbott & Morgan, which became Whitman Breed Abbott & Morgan after the firms merger with Whitman & Ransom in 1993.
The new ADB GC says the breadth of projects, clients, and target countries he encountered in private practice gave him plenty of varietybut not as much as hell see at the bank. Whether it be through investment in infrastructure, health care services, financial and public administration systems, or helping nations prepare for the impact of climate change or better manage their natural resources, says Stephens, the mission of ADB is quite different than that of any commercial enterprise with which I had worked.
The bank, which now has 67 member countries, was established in 1966 to facilitate economic development and alleviate poverty across Asia. Recent projects include an $800 million road project to connect isolated communities in India to crucial services and a $300 million investment in energy-efficient electric tricycles in the Philippines.
Its an exceptionally broad role in a truly unique institution in one of the largest, most diverse, and most dynamic regions of the world, says Stephens. He says he was drawn to the audacity of ADBs vision for a poverty-free Asia Pacific.
ADB has a vital role to play in the region, according to Stephens. As impressive as the growth and development in Asia has been over the last 20 years, he says, the sustainability of that growth depends on the breadth and depth of the development opportunities.
As the banks GC, Stephens will manage 42 lawyers in a legal department that is spread out across 16 countries. He will have primary responsibility for counseling the banks president, board of directors, and board of governors on legal matters. The office of the general counsel advises ADB management and project teams and supports the public and private sector operating departments of the bank, as well as its internal administrative functions.
Stephens graduated cum laude from New York Law School in 1984. He majored in political science and economics at Colgate University, earning a bachelors degree in 1981. He succeeds GC Jeremy Hovland, a longtime ADB lawyer who retired last year.
So far, Stephens has been deeply struck by the quality and commitment of his bank colleagues, and says, At every level and in every department, we have focused, earnest, and dedicated professionals and support staff eager to do their jobs well.