Legal life in... Switzerland
Why did you choose to practise in Switzerland?
I was born in Geneva and read law at Geneva University Law School before qualifying as a lawyer in 2008.
As a dual national holding Swiss and British passports, I have always been navigating between Switzerland and England, where part of my family lives.
Having recently qualified as a solicitor in England and Wales, my focus on England has increased for work purposes.
Tell us a bit about your firm and practice area there
100 RHONE AVOCATS is a boutique law firm which specialises in commercial law, banking, real estate, commercial litigation, white-collar crime, and private clients.
We advise both national and international clients on Swiss and cross-border transactions.
I primarily focus on corporate and business law, contracts (both national and cross-border), M&A, private equity, real estate and FinTech (ICOs, STOs, DLT, and asset tokenisation).
What are the main opportunities for foreign law firms/lawyers in Switzerland?
The major cities in Switzerland offer many prospects for foreign law firms who conduct cross-border commercial activities.
In particular, Geneva has a long tradition of hosting international organisations. This acknowledges not only its pivotal role in terms of cooperation but also its position at the forefront of multilateral diplomacy.
In addition to the private banking sector, Geneva is a major hub for trading and shipping companies for instance, and is currently confirming itself as a key player in fintech.
Are there any challenges or obstacles?
Competition is fierce. Despite the country being small, the market is vast and offers many opportunities, depending on the sector.
Do clients tend to prefer smaller local firms or larger international networks?
A lawyer’s response would be that it depends on the client’s specific needs.
Generally speaking, however, I believe clients are above all looking for trust, loyalty and reliability.
Perfect command of the local market while simultaneously offering global connections and awareness, through international networks for instance, is probably a key element highly regarded by clients.
Are there any changes that may affect the legal profession and practice rights in Switzerland?
Mastering new disruptive and advancing technologies is key for lawyers worldwide.
Failing to jump on the technology train will cause the downfall for many legal professionals.
The degree of fast-paced innovation we are witnessing right now offers opportunities for lawyers to shape and determine how their work will be conducted in the future, for their clients’ and for their own benefit. AI, e-Justice, legaltech, regtech, blockchain and DLTs, and smart contracts are just a few of the numerous fields and tools lawyers must be familiar with.
How do you think your firm or practice might be impacted by Brexit?
Brexit will have no negative impact on my firm.
On the contrary, I believe it will create many opportunities to consolidate existing bridges and to build new lines of collaboration between the UK and Switzerland, in particular in their financial sectors.
What is your top tip for a lawyer moving to Switzerland?
Learn the local languages and cultures, integrate with the locals, not just with the other expats.
Finally, what is the one must-see or must-do thing you would recommend to a lawyer visiting Switzerland as a tourist?
The whole country is beautiful and has much to offer such as lakes and mountains with breath-taking views.
Come to Geneva in the summer, enjoy its lake, fine food and numerous parks and free concerts that take place in the summer months.
These views are the views of the author and not those of the Law Society.