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This Special Report covers 35 practice areas.

This will search all specialists in Switzerland.

Switzerland In Brief

As one of Europe’s most stable economies, Switzerland continues to hold a reputation for being a great place to invest and do business. Alongside its world-renowned financial sector, including a well-developed investment funds industry, the nation is also earning a reputation in cutting-edge technologies such as bitcoin and blockchain. Furthermore, owing to the recent instability of many of its European neighbours, Switzerland is becoming a more attractive jurisdiction for business; Swiss lawyers are showing that traditional expertise alongside knowledge of the digital economy make for a formidable combination.

The country’s legal hubs remain in Zurich (for the German-speaking legal community) and Geneva (for the French-speaking legal community). Ticino and Lucerne have a smattering of firms, but they both remain distant seconds in comparison. However, with the rest of Europe experiencing bouts of volatility, either with respect to the UK’s increasingly complex exit from the European Union, or economic and political woes in Spain, Italy and, more recently, Germany, Switzerland has regained some of its lustre as a uniquely robust place in which to invest and do business. “Switzerland is still in a very favourable position due to difficulties in other parts of the world,” one lawyer told us. The country has received some sizeable mandates thanks to its again-growing profile as a safe haven for investors and is a rare picture of continuity; in our research this year the chapters with the largest number of listed lawyers were arbitration, private client, corporate tax and litigation – no surprise for those that know the market well.

However, while the legal market has a reputation for being conservative, changes are afoot in terms of its composition. The continuing trend is of an increase of boutiques, particularly those founded by erstwhile leaders of departments at top Swiss firms, in a market traditionally made up of full-service firms. Interviewees put forward numerous possible explanations for this trend. “We are not quite as over-lawyered as London, but it is a tough market,” one practitioner remarked. Also, where aspiring lawyers once had their eye on partnership as the finish line, many are finding that going it alone and offering specialist expertise in one area of law gives them a better market position than remaining in a full-service firm. A significant possible factor in this shift is that clients are increasingly looking for a more acute and tailored service; in an age where black-letter law can be found on Google, it is local knowledge and experience that businesses look for when instructing a firm. This is perhaps not helped by the fact that the only foreign law firm with a significant presence in Switzerland is Baker McKenzie, which recently strengthened its Zurich corporate team. No foreign firm is currently able to match the reputation and regional clout of national stalwarts including the likes of Schellenberg Wittmer, Homburger and Lenz & Staehelin.

Arbitration is one area in particular where Switzerland continues to be particularly strong. Lawyers that we spoke to are frequently handling large caseloads of complex arbitrations involving ever more substantial submissions, exhibits and reports. Though a drive for efficiency in arbitral procedure has been generally welcomed, when done badly it can make one feel “like a tomato in a sandwich”, as one interviewee put it. Elsewhere, large-scale litigation continues unabated, alongside an increasing amount of white-collar criminal matters and a growing trend towards more investigations. On the finance side, the arrival of MiFID II means that Swiss law will need to be amended in order to be compliant – this will be secured by the Federal Financial Services Act. Lawyers are therefore being kept busy by clients looking to fully understand the commercial implications of such new regulation.

Yet Switzerland has decided not to rest on its laurels – one of the more recent developments in the market is a growing reputation in the field of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. The Crypto Valley Association (CVA), a Swiss not-for-profit organisation supporting the development of such technologies, recently launched a Code of Conduct for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) – the cryptocurrency equivalent of an IPO – in which new funds can be raised for a cryptocurrency initiative. Such inventions are crucial to the growth of small companies and start-ups, it has been argued. Though some practitioners we spoke to were sceptical about whether cryptocurrencies have the potential to cross over into mainstream finance, it seems clear that cryptographic technologies now matter enough to warrant regulation – and, crucially, transparency. One particular development was the introduction of cryptocurrency-based investment funds, which some Swiss lawyers are now working on alongside traditional funds. Alongside this, legislation on drones and artificial intelligence is a hot topic in Switzerland; last year the Swiss Postal Service trialled a drone service which carried goods from one hospital to another in Ticino.

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One of the Swiss market’s greatest assets, its dependability, is growing. While the changes being seen have still not demonstrated their full impact, flourishing boutiques now seem destined to stand side-by-side with the leading national firms, though the future for foreign firms besides those with the ability to pump serious time and money into the market seems unclear. The dynamism currently being shown by Swiss lawyers suggests that the legal market will continue to quietly progress in the right direction, whatever the outcome for its long-standing status quo.

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Analysis: Switzerland

Construction & Real Estate Review 2018

meyerlustenberger

Wolfgang Müller, Alexander Vogel and Walter Häberling, Meyerlustenberger Lachenal Ltd

Although the general economic outlook for the world economy in 2018 is seen as very positive by most economists, the Swiss real estate sector is fighting vacancies in the housing and office space markets.

Switzerland: Arbitration 2018

In this chapter we highlight 89 practitioners for their exceptional work acting as counsel or arbitrator in both domestic and international arbitral seats. 

Switzerland: Arbitration Expert Witnesses 2018

This year we highlight five impressive individuals who are recognised for the quality of their testimony in arbitration proceedings.

Switzerland: Asset Recovery 2018

In this chapter we highlight 28 leading individuals for their outstanding work assisting clients in tracing and recovering lost, misappropriated or stolen assets, including in relation to disclosure, freezing and seizure orders and recovery claims. 

Switzerland: Banking 2018

This year’s research highlights 51 top banking lawyers. The practitioners listed here have been recommended by peers and clients alike for their deep expertise in finance and regulatory matters, as well as dispute resolution proceedings.

Switzerland: Business Crime Defence 2018

In this chapter we highlight 31 leading lawyers for their leading expertise defending corporates and individuals in white-collar criminal proceedings.

Switzerland: Capital Markets 2018

We identify 38 capital markets specialists in this chapter who stand out for their extensive experience advising domestic and international clients on complex financing transactions, debt and equity issuances as well as the compliance and regulatory obligations of market participants.

Switzerland: Competition 2018

In this chapter we highlight 21 leading lawyers recognised for their work on behavioural and non-behavioural competition law, regularly representing clients in relation to Swiss and EU competition matters.

Switzerland: Competition Economists 2018

This year we identify five highly regarded competition economists for their deep knowledge and sophisticated economic analyses of major antitrust matters.

Switzerland: Construction & Real Estate 2018

Forty-eight lawyers are recommended this year for their expertise in construction and real estate matters in the Swiss market. This includes both commercial and residential construction across numerous industry sectors including retail, healthcare and energy and mining.

Switzerland: Corporate Governance 2018

Twenty-two lawyers lead the way in corporate governance this year. They are those in the Swiss market with the highest expertise matters relating to corporate management and frequently advise both multinational conglomerates and domestic businesses.

Switzerland: Corporate Immigration 2018

In this chapter we highlight 14 leading lawyers whose practices focus on assisting corporations with the immigration and naturalisation of skilled workers. 

Switzerland: Corporate Tax 2018

In this chapter we highlight 55 corporate tax lawyers for their specialist expertise in tax planning and structuring matters, transactions and disputes.

Switzerland: Energy 2018

This year, eight standout practitioners have been selected for inclusion in our energy chapter, thanks to their proven track record handling sophisticated transactions, regulatory matters and disputes across the energy sector.

Switzerland: Environment 2018

This year we recognise 17 individuals for their legal expertise handling issues of water protection, waste management and pollution, as well as government regulation and compliance issues.

Switzerland: Franchise 2018

In this chapter we recognise nine pre-eminent practitioners for their excellent work handling contentious and non-contentious franchise law matters for a range of national and international clients.

Switzerland: Government Contracts 2018

We feature 12 practitioners in this chapter who stand out for their exceptional work in the public procurement space, handling contracts, as well as reviews and disputes arising from the tender process.

Switzerland: Insurance & Reinsurance 2018

This year we recognise 27 leading lawyers who are noted for their work representing insurance underwriters, reinsurers, intermediaries and corporate insurers in contentious, contractual, regulatory and transactional matters.

Switzerland: Investigations 2018

This year we highlight 21 leading investigations experts who stand out for their excellent work managing cross-border investigations into individuals and companies across a range of industry sectors.

Switzerland: Investment Management 2018

This year sees 22 leading figures listed for their expertise in the field of investment management, including advising managers and management groups of both private equity and hedge funds on matters of structuring, implementation and regulation.

Switzerland: Labour & Employment 2018

This year we highlight 37 labour and employment practitioners who stand out for their exceptional work handling group moves, benefits and compensation, reorganisations and regulatory and auditing matters. 

Switzerland: Life Sciences 2018

Thirty outstanding lawyers have been highlighted in this chapter for their extensive experience advising and representing life sciences companies in a range of matters including patent litigation, regulatory compliance and corporate transactions.

Switzerland: Litigation 2018

Fifty-four leading practitioners are recognised this year for their excellent work in the Swiss market on matters of commercial litigation for individuals, national entities and multinational corporations.

Switzerland: M&A 2018

The following chapter highlights 41 outstanding transactional lawyers who have been highly recommended by peers and clients alike for their expertise in structuring and implementing major M&A transactions.

Switzerland: Mediation 2018

In this chapter we highlight 22 individuals for their standout work in commercial mediation proceedings across a range of different industries. 

Switzerland: Patents 2018

This chapter features 16 leading patents lawyers with outstanding expertise spanning patent prosecution, enforcement and disputes across a range of industry sectors.

Switzerland: Private Client 2018

In this chapter, 69 standout individuals are recognised for their top-tier private client practices. Those included provide a wide range of private client services to domestic and international clients, including advice on taxation matters, estate management, wealth structuring and succession planning.

Switzerland: Private Client Trust & Advisory Services 2018

In this chapter we feature 23 of the country’s leading trustees, private bankers, accountants and investment managers that service the private client industry. 

Switzerland: Product Liability Defence 2018

This year six leading names are recognised as standout practitioners in the field of product liability defence in the Swiss market.

Switzerland: Restructuring & Insolvency 2018

This year we recognised 20 leading lawyers highlighted for their excellent work advising on a range of matters including rescue, reconstruction and insolvency procedures, financial restructurings, leveraged buyouts and liquidations. 

Switzerland: Sports & Entertainment 2018

In this chapter we feature 31 individuals who are highlighted for their exceptional work in the sports and entertainment industries including related competition, contract, IP, disputes and transactional matters.

Switzerland: TMT 2018

In this chapter we recognise 45 leading lawyers who stand out for their exceptional work handling sector-related regulatory and compliance matters, dispute resolution, content rights and related M&A, outsourcing and licensing deals, data protection and e-commerce. 

Switzerland: Trade & Customs 2018

We highlight 16 top-tier practitioners this year who stand out for their prowess in the field of trade and customs law.

Switzerland: Trademarks 2018

In this chapter, we highlight 40 highly regarded trademark lawyers who stand out for their leading expertise spanning trademark filing, prosecution, strategic portfolio management and disputes.

Switzerland: Transport 2018

In this chapter we identify 35 leading Swiss transport lawyers recognised for their outstanding work in aviation, shipping and rail law, regularly handling financing, logistics, transactions, insurance and crisis management matters. 

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Firm Profiles: Switzerland

2018: Leading Firms

In the latest edition of WWL: Switzerland we feature practitioners at 245 firms, from boutiques through to full-service outfits. However over half of all listings this year come from just 12 standout firms which we profile here.

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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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