Andrea Meier “always delivers on point” for clients, and is a “very thorough and bright attorney”. Peers recommend her as “a tough counsel who keeps fighting even if cornered”.
Andrea Meier practises arbitration and litigation and is recognised as a leader in her field. A particular focus of Andrea Meier’s work is the construction sector. For many years, she has represented parties in disputes relating to large industrial and infrastructure projects. Recent cases also include post-M&A and joint venture disputes, and disputes in the pharmaceutical and mobility sectors. Moreover, Andrea Meier regularly represents clients from the financial industry before state courts and arbitral tribunals.
What inspired you to pursue a legal career?
I always loved debates back in school. I also enjoyed expressing my thoughts in writing, and I soon came to understand the power of language. There is so much you can achieve if you formulate well, if you express your thoughts clearly and persuasively. I can use my passion for writing and debating in my profession, which is a great privilege.
What do you enjoy most about working on complex construction and engineering disputes?
What I enjoy most is the dialogue with the technical experts. In every case I learn something new on the technical side. I am an intellectually curious person so it gives me great satisfaction to always learn something new, to be challenged by new issues and non-legal subjects. The legal issues may become repetitive after a while, but the facts of a case are always different. This keeps my job interesting and I am never bored.
To what extent are clients opening up to the idea of alternative dispute resolution forums such as arbitration?
In complex construction and engineering disputes, arbitration is widely accepted as one of the primary means of dispute resolution. Arbitration is particularly suited for these types of disputes as tribunals may devote the necessary time and resources to these often time-consuming disputes. On the other hand, in my litigation practice, I see that financial institutions still have a preference for state court litigation. They appreciate the efficiency of some state courts, in particular of specialised commercial courts, in handling these types of disputes, and the existence of case law. Since I am active in both the arbitration and the litigation field, I see the benefits of both systems given the particular case.
What impact do you foresee covid-19 having on your disputes practice?
I expect a rise in disputes in the coming months due to the business disruptions caused by the pandemic. Furthermore, many companies face liquidity issues because of covid-19, or even insolvency proceedings. On top of the expected increase in disputes, the pandemic poses challenges to the judicial process as such due to the social distancing rules and the restrictions that are imposed on the holding of physical hearings. This is true in particular in large cross-border cases that involve a number of participants, such as party representatives, witnesses and experts, and international travel. It will be a balancing act between efficiency and due process to determine the appropriate means to nevertheless conduct the proceedings in an efficient manner. Just recently, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court ruled that the holding of a hearing by videoconference during the covid-19 lockdown period in April 2020 ordered by the Zurich Commercial Court against the objection of one party was inadmissible.
How is the generational shift changing legal practice at your firm? What do younger lawyers do differently?
Younger lawyers are still as committed as the older generation. However, I observe that they request more flexibility regarding the organisation of their working time. This is a legitimate request and the technical means that are now available favour the trend to more flexibility. They allow us to work from wherever we are. I strongly believe that this makes our profession more attractive for the younger generation. Remote working will also lead to a change in the style of leadership. A modern style of leadership includes motivating associates to deliver their best work rather than micro-management. Old style authoritative leadership is no longer appreciated, and rightly so.
What measures need to be taken to increase diversity in the legal market?
We still need to encourage young female practitioners to claim the place and spotlight that they deserve. Also, the more female leaders we have, the easier it will get for younger female practitioners to move forward in their careers. First, they will have a larger network to draw from and second, they have more role models to take inspiration from. There is not one model that is right for everyone. Every person has different needs and preferences. Young female practitioners should reach out to and learn from female leaders who embody the values that are important to them.
But diversity does not end with gender equality. We also see drastic inequality in ethnic and geographic representation. It is our responsibility as a society to work towards diversity and equal representation, as this is crucial to the legitimacy of the legal profession. This means that sometimes, whether we are looking for associates, experts or arbitrators, we have to actively investigate the market to enlarge the pool rather than settle for the obvious choice. We have to be willing to make this effort.
How do you anticipate the Swiss legal market changing in the next five years? How might this affect your practice?
I anticipate that new technologies and artificial intelligence will dramatically change the legal market, not only in Switzerland, but everywhere. Many tasks that today still form a substantial part of our work, such as review of documents, will be automated and the tasks of lawyers will be more and more limited to more complex tasks. We need to be ready for this change and invest in new technologies. Having a legal tech task force is a must for every law firm.
What advice would you give to younger lawyers hoping to one day be in your position?
Know your strengths and weaknesses and be strategic about your goals but also a good team player. Choose to work for a team led by partners who value achievements and team play and who are seriously interested in advancing the careers of younger colleagues.
Dr Andrea Meier is a partner with the law firm Wartmann Merker in Zurich. She has acted as counsel, presiding arbitrator, party-appointed and sole arbitrator, and secretary in more than 60 institutional and ad hoc arbitrations. Recent arbitrations have involved construction contracts, joint ventures, disputes in the mobility sector and telecommunications industry, energy and gas disputes, post-M&A disputes, sales and distribution agreements, and disputes in the financial industry. She also regularly represents parties before Swiss courts in commercial matters, including major Swiss banks.
Andrea Meier joined Wartmann Merker in 2010, after working as an associate in Schellenberg Wittmer's dispute resolution team as of 2003. Andrea Meier holds a law degree from the University of Zurich, a postgraduate degree from Harvard Law School, and a doctorate degree from the University of Zurich. She is a member of the board of ASA (Swiss Arbitration Association) and a member of ASA's executive committee; a former ASA below 40 co-chair; a member of the Arbitration Court of the Swiss Chambers' Arbitration Institution; and an arbitrator of the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Andrea Meier regularly publishes in the field of international arbitration and is also a regular speaker at international arbitration conferences. She recently spoke at a joint event of KCAB, SCAI and ASA in Seoul on settlement facilitation by arbitral tribunals, and co-organised the latest ASA annual arbitration conference in Geneva (1 February 2019, "Arbitration and Corruption").
With around 230 legal experts, Walder Wyss is one of the most successful and fastest growing Swiss commercial law firms, with offices in Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Berne, Lausanne and Lugano. The firm specialises in corporate and commercial law, banking and finance, intellectual property and competition law, dispute resolution and tax law. Clients include national and international companies, publicly held corporations and family businesses as well as public law institutions and private clients.
Dr Andrea Meier is a partner with the law firm Wartmann Merker in Zurich. She regularly represents parties before Swiss courts in commercial matters. Recent disputes have involved disputes in the financial industry and the telecommunications industry, joint ventures, corporate and employment litigation as well as distribution agreements and construction contracts. Furthermore, she has acted as counsel, presiding arbitrator, party-appointed and sole arbitrator, and administrative secretary in more than 50 institutional and ad hoc arbitrations.
Andrea Meier joined Wartmann Merker in 2010, after working as an associate in Schellenberg Wittmer’s dispute resolution team as of 2003. Andrea Meier holds a law degree from the University of Zurich, a postgraduate degree from Harvard Law School and a doctorate degree from the University of Zurich. She is a member of the board of the Swiss Arbitration Association (ASA), a former ASA Below 40 co-chair, a member of the Arbitration Court of the Swiss Chambers’ Arbitration Institution and an arbitrator of the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Andrea Meier regularly publishes in the field of dispute resolution. Recent publications include: Arbitration Clauses in Third Party Beneficiary Contracts – Who May and Who Must Arbitrate?, ASA Bull. 1/2016, and Do Lawyers Always Have to Have the Last Word? Iura novit curia and the Right to be Heard in International Arbitration, ASA Bull. 3/2014.
Andrea Meier is also a regular speaker at international conferences. She recently spoke at the UNCITRAL Congress in celebration of UNCITRAL's 50th anniversary in Vienna (4–6 July 2017) and moderated a panel at the ASA Conference in Geneva ("Where Quantum Depends on Information Possessed only by the Respondent", 3 February 2017).
With around 240 legal experts, Walder Wyss is one of the most successful and fastest growing Swiss commercial law firms, with offices in Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Berne, Lausanne and Lugano. The firm specialises in corporate and commercial law, banking and finance, intellectual property and competition law, dispute resolution and tax law. Clients include national and international companies, publicly held corporations and family businesses as well as public law institutions and private clients.