Work Life Quiz: Mahasti Razavi, August & Debouzy

What was your first-ever job? I worked in a traditional bookstore across the street from home and would spend my days looking at dusty tomes. I loved it.

What was your worst experience as a trainee?

In a due diligence ­operation, one associate and three trainees ­including me were sent to the client. We were shown into the smallest room ever, with one table, four chairs and a neon light that made strange noises. There was no air conditioning and no window. Our ­mission: to review all ­documents and make ­comments. A man brought in a ­supermarket cart full of ­documents and a few hours later we were done. But then he arrived again, with another cart full of papers. Three days went by we were still there, without sleep, with that cart ­coming in and out.

Where’s the best place to go if you want to find out what’s really going on in the office?

My office.

What time do you usually leave the office?

Around 8pm.

What do you do at weekends?

I hate planning. So I end up strolling around Paris, going out for dinner, doing a bit of ­exercise, taking possession of my home and spending time with my loved ones.

What’s your favourite ­restaurant?

Ferdi in Paris, Momofuku in New York.

If you weren’t a lawyer what would you have been?

A doctor.

What’s your favourite film?

The Way We Were starring Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford.

What was the first record you ever bought?

Imagination by Earth, Wind & Fire.

Who’s your hero and why?

My mother.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Human beings.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?

See above.

What’s your biggest work/career mistake and what did you learn from it?

Trying to do everything myself. There’s no way one can work on a case, train younger lawyers, develop a practice, communicate expertise and be a good colleague without relying on others’ strength, skills and good spirit.

What car do you drive?

I sold my car last week.

What book are you currently reading?

Chien Blanc by Romain Gary.

What’s your favourite children’s book?

Haut les pattes! by ­Catharina Valckx.

What’s the most exciting deal/case you’ve worked on and why?

I think I’ve been excited about almost every case I’ve worked on, from spending almost two years at Microsoft in France three days a week 13 years ago to negotiating a major outsourcing deal for BNP Paribas. The excitement is fundamentally linked to the project of participating in building a firm that is unique.

If you were stranded on a desert island what two luxury items would you take?

A straw hat and a pair of high-heeled leather sandals to look at, but not wear.

What’s the worst partner ­conference location you’ve attended and why?

They were all absolutely fabulous, of course. After all, I’m part of the team that chooses the ­destinations.

What’s the longest you’ve worked without sleep?

Around 36 hours, but that was a couple of years ago.

If a movie was being made about your life, which actor would play you?

Natalie Portman.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?

My daughter because, some 30 years ago, I was stuck in a lift in a burning Tehran. I do not have a happy memory of that moment.

Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order)

I am an optimist against all the odds; I hate crisps; I rarely lose my temper.


Name: Mahasti Razavi
Firm: August & Debouzy
Title: Partner
Lives: Paris


1993-94: Masters in business law, University of Paris Panthéon Assas
1994-95: Masters in Anglo-American Law, ­University of Paris Panthéon Sorbonne
1995-96: LLM in international law, New York University

Work history:

1992-93: Trainee, Shearman & Sterling, Paris
1994: Trainee, Norton Rose, London and Paris
1995-97: Associate, Lacher & Lovell-Taylor, New York
1997-2005: Associate, August & Debouzy, Paris
2005-present: Partner, August & Debouzy