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Philippe Pulfer
10 Rue d'Italie
PO Box
Geneva 3
+41 58 658 30 10

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders: Private Client

Philippe Pulfer is a partner and heads the Geneva private client practice of Walder Wyss. Philippe has more than 15 years of experience in private client and is widely acknowledged as one of the leading Swiss experts in his field.
His practice includes estate and tax planning with an international focus, trust and succession disputes. He also advises charities and charity donors, assisting clients in all legal areas of philanthropy, and sits on the boards of several philanthropic organisations focusing on art, architecture or humanitarian causes. He is a committee member of STEP Geneva and a member of the STEP Worldwide Council.

What attracted you to a career as a private client practitioner?

I have always enjoyed dealing with individuals more than with corporates and valued longterm relationships with clients, sometimes over more than one generation.

What would you say is the greatest challenge currently facing the sector?

The erosion of privacy is of great concern to many clients. Their advisers have to work under an increasing scrutiny and to adapt to moving standards, in addition to constantly changing regulations.

What has been the most memorable matter that you have worked on?

There have been many. I am tempted by an easy escape: the most memorable has yet to come!

What qualities make a successful private client lawyer?

The capacity to listen to clients, to understand family dynamics, to steer through the waves and to find solutions. The ability to select the best options taking into account requirements that may be conflicting.

As head of the firm’s Geneva private client practice, what will be your main priorities over the coming year regarding the development of the group?

The team will have to grow in order to meet the increasing demands of our clients. In a large corporate firm, junior associates are not necessarily attracted to private client work. We have to convince them that a challenging and complex planning can be even more exciting than an M&A transaction.

How is your firm working to attract clients from jurisdictions where the sector is rapidly developing, such as those across Latin America and Asia?

There are members of the team who focus substantially on those regions and benefit from the required expertise and experience. As always a good local network is key in order to attract referrals and to source top quality advice from the expert lawyers on the ground.

How do you differentiate yourself from other practices?

We are practical and solution-oriented. We have a horizontal, multidisciplinary approach whereby the same team can assist in all areas relevant to private clients (estate and tax planning, philanthropy, art law, disputes), relying whenever needed on the firm’s formidable resources and know-how in other areas.

What was it about Walder Wyss as a firm that inspired you to join their team?

Walder Wyss is one of the top five leading law firms in Switzerland. The opportunity to open in Geneva its first office in the Frenchspeaking part of the country was an obviously tempting challenge.


Who's Who Legal Switzerland - Private Client

Philippe Pulfer heads the Geneva private client practice of Walder Wyss. He specialises in wealth structuring and estate planning with an international focus. He also acts in complex, often multi-jurisdictional, succession and trust disputes. With more than 15 years of experience in his field, both in Geneva and London, he has developed a reputation as a leading expert advising individuals and families, trustees, banks, and lawyers from other jurisdictions, in particular UK solicitors. His combined practice in estate planning and litigation enables him to offer effective advice to private clients and trustees who are involved in disputes and/or potential disputes. He also advises charities and charity donors in all areas of philanthropy.

He is a regular speaker and contributor on the practice of trusts in Switzerland, charities and art law.

Over the past couple of years Philippe has been constantly ranked as a leading lawyer by all major legal directories, including Chambers Global and Chambers Europe (which place him in the top tier), The Legal 500, Who's Who Legal and Citywealth. In 2012, he was included in Legal Week’s “Top 100 Global Trusts & Private Client Elite”, a list singling out 100 leading individuals from Europe, the Americas and Asia on a peer-review basis.

Philippe is a member of the STEP Worldwide Council and a committee member of STEP Geneva. He holds a law degree from the University of Geneva and was admitted to the Bar in 1995.

With approximately 160 lawyers, Walder Wyss is one of the largest Swiss law firms, with offices in Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Berne, Lausanne and Lugano. It offers a full range of services for the business community in Switzerland, as well as public, private and international clients. Its practice teams handle business transactions, banking and finance matters, taxes, arbitration and litigation as well as IP/IT and competition matters.

WWL says: Philippe Pulfer comes highly recommended and is dubbed “one of the leading private client lawyers in Geneva”.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Switzerland which can be purchased from our Shop.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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