Patricia Guerra is head of the private clients team in Zurich and of the Latin America desk. She has extensive experience in advising UHNW/HNW individuals in personal matters, in family asset structuring and philanthropic endeavours. Patricia Guerra deals with complex cross-border issues and regularly coordinates teams across various jurisdictions. She is fluent in English, Spanish, German and French. Patricia is a board member of several Swiss charitable foundations and of a Swiss private bank.
Describe your career to date.
I studied law in Geneva and the USA, and am admitted to the bar in Switzerland and New York. I took the Swiss bar exam in German, although my mother tongue is Spanish. I mention this because the command of languages and understanding of different backgrounds has been a key asset for my career. When I applied for my first job in Switzerland, some law firms did not even interview women. This has fortunately changed today and there is a large choice of deserving and aspiring young women. I started as a corporate lawyer and was lucky to be employed by an excellent law firm with international clients and matters. I also worked as a finance lawyer in Chicago, which allowed me to understand this area and gain access to common law practice. Since my return to Switzerland I have been with the same law firm, working as partner since 1997. My career has been interesting and rewarding, and I truly enjoy working for my clients. As a senior partner, I co-chair the private clients practice of our firm, which I successfully developed upon my return to Switzerland. I am a board member at my law firm, and the Honorary Consul of Ecuador in Zurich. I have recently accepted board membership at a Swiss private bank. My pro bono practice for several charitable organisations has widened my horizon, complemented my practice and deeply rewarded me personally. I can say today that I have achieved all my career dreams and more. I am thankful for this, as I am aware that it is not only a matter of a good reputation, hard work and seizing opportunities, but also very much a matter of luck.
What is it about working as a private client lawyer that you enjoy most?
Firstly, the human element of each matter. I strive to discover the emotional drivers and address them for the benefit of the client. Secondly, I enjoy the knowledge I gain by identifying and solving cross-border challenges with the help of my peers from the relevant jurisdictions.
How has the market changed since you started your career?
The market is in constant and rapid evolution. It is necessary to follow up on daily technical developments and policy and approach changes around the world. Globalisation, mobility, transparency and digitalisation have reshaped the legal landscape. Matters involve many more jurisdictions than in the past and have, therefore, become more challenging. Advice requires coordination throughout several jurisdictions and practice areas, as well as the bridging of cultural and legal differences. The voice of the next generation is stronger and demands to be heard.
How do you see your practice developing over the next five years?
We will have to address the issues of the next generation and the fast digitalisation in every area. Jules Verne’s imagination has been surpassed by the development of science and technology. We need to remain observant of trends and changes, and able to react quickly.
What makes Meyerlustenberger Lachenal stand out from competitors?
We are client-centric, versed in different backgrounds and partner-responsive. Our team of young, excellent professionals are future-oriented and backed by the experience of senior partners.
How is the generational shift changing legal practice at your firm? What do younger lawyers do differently?
The generational shift is refreshing our practice for the best. We are proud to have more young, talented women ascending. Younger lawyers use digital research as an important tool and understand different backgrounds because of their own internationality.
How do you anticipate the Swiss legal market changing in the next five years? How might this affect your practice?
Digitalisation and new products will also shape the Swiss legal market materially. The trend of substantial reporting will continue and have a notable impact on the cost but will also bring opportunities.
What advice would you give to younger practitioners hoping to one day be in your position?
Have excellent qualifications; master various languages; recognise trends; be flexible, empathetic and hard-working; but, especially, be passionate about your work.
Patricia Guerra wins glowing praise from peers as “extremely dedicated” and experienced in dealing with complex cross-border matters relating to family assets and philanthropic matters.
Patricia Guerra is head of the private client team in Zurich and head of the Latin America desk of the firm. She has extensive experience in advising UHNW and HNW individuals and families in all personal matters and matters concerning family assets as well as in philanthropic endeavours. Patricia Guerra continuously deals with cross-border issues and regularly takes on the legal leadership necessary to coordinate teams across various jurisdictions.
She is fluent in English, Spanish, German and French and is proficient in Portuguese and Italian.
Patricia Guerra is “one of the best private client lawyers in Switzerland” and a “true pioneer”, recognised for her “successful reputation” according to impressed peers.
Patricia Guerra is head of the private client team in Zurich, and of the firm’s Latin America desk. She has extensive experience in advising UHNW and HNW individuals and families in all personal matters and matters concerning family assets, including succession planning; estate partition and administration; asset structuring and asset protection; family governance; and family settlements, as well as philanthropic endeavors. Patricia regularly deals with complex cross-border issues for her clients and takes on the legal leadership necessary to coordinate teams across various jurisdictions in various languages. She is fluent in English, Spanish, German and French and has a good command of Portuguese and Italian. Patricia is a board member of various Swiss charitable foundations supporting projects internationally, and of a Swiss private bank. She is also the honorary consul of Ecuador in Zurich.
Patricia Guerra graduated from the University of Geneva Law School. She is admitted to the bars of Switzerland and New York. Patricia obtained her LLM at the University of Michigan Law School. She worked as an associate with Mayer, Brown & Platt in Chicago; and with Meyerlustenberger Lachenal in Zurich, where she has been partner since 1997. Patricia participates and speaks at international legal conferences.
Patricia has been consistently recognised in legal directories and publications for decades, including The Legal 500, Chambers and Partners, Who’s Who Legal, Best Lawyers in Switzerland and Private Client Global Elite. She was also shortlisted for the 2019 Citywealth Lawyer of the Year Award, and the 2020 Citywealth Powerwomen Mentor of the Year Award. Patricia has also been recognised for her female leadership by Swiss news publications, and for her empathetic approach and broad cultural understanding.
Meyerlustenberger Lachenal is a leading full-service Swiss law firm with offices in Zurich, Geneva, Zug and Lausanne. The firm's international private client team offers pragmatic, creative and solution-oriented advice, and a client-centric approach with high partner involvement.