A wider horizon – Switzerland edges into the global economy

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While historically relatively untouched by the globalisation of legal services, international firms have continued their recent surge into Switzerland, with Geneva – home to a third of the world’s private wealth – emerging as the most popular hotspot. As recently as January, CMS von Erlach Henrici – the local Swiss member of the global CMS network – merged with Geneva practice ZPG Avocats, adding six partners, including former ZPG managing partner Charles Poncet to the firm, now known as CMS von Erlach Poncet.

In September last year, Speechly Bircham also opened in Geneva – an office led by Michael Wells-Greco and of counsel Francis Rojas, who joined from the Luxembourg-based Maitland. This was the LB100 firm’s second office launch in the country in recent years, having first launched in Zürich in 2011. Continue reading “A wider horizon – Switzerland edges into the global economy”

Switzerland – Being Prepared

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In most markets, it wouldn’t qualify as news but in the conservative Swiss legal community, the creation last April of Meyerlustenberger Lachenal via a merger between Zürich’s meyerlustenberger and Geneva’s Lachenal & Le Fort is still making waves. Currently listed as one of the largest law firms in Switzerland, it is present in Zug, Lausanne and Brussels, in addition to Zürich and Geneva.

The roots of Lachenal & Le Fort date back to 1882, while meyerlustenberger was established in 1975. According to Christophe Rapin – a Lausanne-based partner at the combined firm – an important driver behind the merger, which created a 30-partner practice, was to ensure national coverage of the Swiss market, particularly for the firm’s international clientele.

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Switzerland – Climb every mountain

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UK law firm Speechly Bircham opened a Zürich office in June 2011, marking the firm’s first venture overseas. Private client partner Mark Summers was relocated to Switzerland to head the new operation alongside two associates, with fellow partner William Hancock joining him at the start of 2012.

Speechly’s Zürich offering is further bolstered by international private client head Charles Gothard, who spends one week each month in the city, and financial services partners Jonathan Bayliss and Kate Troup, who are both in Zürich for two or three days each month. Continue reading “Switzerland – Climb every mountain”

Switzerland – Fighting fit

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Switzerland’s dispute resolution market is in rude health. LB talks to the key players about recent headline cases and what the implementation of new arbitration rules in 2012 will mean

The volume of Swiss M&A and capital markets may have flattened out in Switzerland but the global downturn has produced a raft of investor claims against banks and investor management disputes. ‘In tough economic times, people are much more prepared to take their case to court and less willing to settle,’ says Patrick Sommer, partner at CMS von Erlach Henrici (CMS). Consequently, Switzerland has become a major battlefield for asset recovery and enforcement of foreign judgments. Continue reading “Switzerland – Fighting fit”

Switzerland – Splendid isolation

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As an exporting country, Switzerland is not immune to the general crisis and slow down of growth in the rest of Europe. Add to this a tough financing environment, and it is no surprise that the country’s transactional lawyers are reporting a dwindling deal flow.

A key issue for international M&A deals in Switzerland is the strong Swiss franc. In 2011, because prices kept increasing for dollar or euro-based buyers, some inbound acquisitions of Swiss businesses by foreign acquirers failed after following due diligence. However, it’s not just a robust currency that is affecting Switzerland’s M&A transactions. ‘Because the Swiss economy has resisted the global meltdown fairly well in comparative terms,’ says André Gruber, one of the Geneva-based founding partners at Swiss legal practice DGE, ‘Swiss assets are also comparatively expensive.’ Continue reading “Switzerland – Splendid isolation”

Switzerland – On The Rise

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While several leading Swiss law firms contemplate their new lives as corporations, LB finds out what a series of high-profile partner exits means for Switzerland’s famously conservative legal market

This year, Zürich-based law firm Pestalozzi celebrates its 100th birthday. Just ten years ago, it joined forces with Geneva practice Lachenal Brechbuhl Cottier & Roguet to become Pestalozzi Lachenal Patry. But in late 2010, the two factions parted company, shutting down the Brussels office along the way.

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Time for change

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With some of the cornerstones of Swiss identity – banking and secrecy – under threat, the country’s law firms are caught up in the maelstrom. LB uncovers how Switzerland’s conservative legal community has been responding to the upheaval.

Switzerland recently encountered its most significant period of economic turmoil, and its lawyers are right on the front line. Although the consequences of the financial backlash were largely kept at bay through government intervention, hitherto unknown banking and investor losses were recorded. Continue reading “Time for change”