Dr Jodok Wicki is the managing partner at CMS in Switzerland. He has been practising for some 25 years and has particular expertise in the resolution of complex disputes before state courts, and in arbitration matters and proceedings before administrative authorities. He also has in-depth knowledge of insurance and is qualified as specialised attorney (Swiss Bar Association) for tort and insurance law. Jodok Wicki works in English, French and Italian, in addition to his native German.
What inspired you to pursue a legal career?
I believe being a lawyer requires a certain combination of skills, which seemed to suit my talents and interests quite well: an inquisitive and analytical mindset, both relating to facts and legal issues; a joy of interacting with people and the use of languages, be this my mother-tongue or foreign languages; and not least, a certain fighting spirit.
What makes for a successful product liability lawyer?
You obviously need to understand the law. However, it clearly does not stop there. A willingness and an interest to dive into and understand technical issues is very important, as is being fascinated by interactions with clients and third-party experts.
How has the market changed since you first started practising?
Having been admitted to the bar 25 years ago it is not surprising that there have been important changes since then. Consider the smartphone, which has now existed for a little more than 10 years, and the internet and e-mail which have brought massive changes. While before, people usually took some time to reflect and write a letter, the send button for an e-mail is now pressed quickly – sometimes too quickly. The resulting speed and flurry of communication does not necessarily improve its quality, and the mobile communication age has even strengthened this trend. I believe we need to carefully consider the content and the means of communication for each respective message and interaction.
Where, in your opinion, does the future of the practice area lie?
We will likely see important developments on several levels in the future, as both the production and, after the facts, the analysis of these products’ effects evolve and become ever more sophisticated. The influence of artificial intelligence in product design will no doubt also add complexities, particularly in combination with big data.
What makes CMS stand out from its competitors in the market?
Thanks to the size and activity of the CMS practice groups, and the ongoing collaboration between CMS offices on numerous matters for our clients, CMS lawyers can effectively draw on shared know-how so that specialist experience available in one jurisdiction can be used for the benefit of clients in the other jurisdictions. Additionally, our surveys show that clients really like the way we communicate and interact with them.
What is the best piece of career advice you have received?
One important piece of advice was that every communication you send out should be plain and simple to understand. But depending on the situation I will recall many other dos and don’ts that people have mentioned or that I have seen throughout my life.
How is the generational shift changing legal practice at your firm? What do younger lawyers do differently?
I do not think that the younger generation of lawyers can be uniformly grouped. Each is an individual with his or her characteristics, ideas, goals, strengths and also weaknesses. Generally, I see clever young professionals who are eager to learn and to succeed. A big change exists in the use of electronics though: young lawyers adapt much more quickly to new software and work techniques.
How do you anticipate the Swiss legal market changing in the next five years? How might this affect your practice?
The amendment to the Swiss Civil Procedural Code currently deliberated by the Swiss parliament provides for mechanisms to resolve mass claims, and to reduce the current cost hurdles for claimants. If introduced in one way or another, this could bring about an important change and make Switzerland become more litigious.