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Thought Leaders

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Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

Questions & Answers

Tina Wüstemann is a partner and heads the private client team at Bär & Karrer Ltd. She has more than 20 years of experience in private client matters and is regarded as one of the leading Swiss experts in this field. Tina Wüstemann advises Swiss and foreign private clients, family offices and entrepreneurs regarding complex estate, succession and family governance matters, and she represents clients in contentious trust and estate matters as well as the administration of large international estates. She is chair of the Conference on International Trust and Inheritance Law Practice of the University of Zurich and serves as board member in several international charitable organisations.

What motivated you to specialise in private client work?

I prefer advising individuals and their families rather than corporations. Private client relationships are long-term and sometimes they even extend to the next generation. Apart from that, our clients have a need for a broad variety of services covering different areas of law, which makes my job so interesting.

What have been the greatest challenges in your career so far, and how did you overcome them?

When I started as a lawyer 25 years ago, there were few female partners working in big law firms. I was made a non-equity partner with Bär & Karrer shortly after the birth of my first child. To become an equity partner took more time. I soon had my second child, and at the same time needed to build up my business case and my own practice, which was sometimes difficult. I try to encourage my female colleagues today not to rush things and take one step after the other, as building up a practice and a family at the same time is challenging, to say the least.

What qualities do clients look for in an effective private client lawyer?

Apart from a broad knowledge and expertise not only of the client’s own jurisdiction but of other systems of law and cultures, a private client lawyer must be a good listener, understand the family’s dynamics, and have good common sense and excellent empathy with the clients. Needless to say, a private client lawyer must be trustworthy given the often very personal and sensitive issues we deal with.

What factors have contributed to the increasingly litigious nature of trust and estate work?

There has been definitely a rise in high-value, complex, cross-border trust and estate disputes during the last years. We are currently involved in several multibillion-dollar disputes for clients involving jurisdictions and assets all around the world, where Bär & Karrer is mostly not only acting as Swiss counsel but also has the overall lead. In my role as a trust and estate litigator, I come across poor planning quite frequently. The results are often lengthy and costly proceedings, and the family’s “dirty linen” is being washed in public.

There are many catalysts for the increase in such disputes: testators are leaving large fortunes in complex structures covering different jurisdictions. The boom in estate and trust litigation is also the result of the “second-generation problem” where principals pass away and hand the baton over to the next generation in circumstances where familial pressures are left unresolved. The increasing number of multiple marriages and the tensions that arise among spouses and children from previous marriages also give rise to litigation. Our task as private client advisers is to guide our clients to avoid legal action where possible and to defuse conflicts before they arise. This approach helps to preserve family wealth and harmony, but there are situations where disputes can unfortunately not be avoided.

How does diversity within law firms benefit the legal business as a whole?

Diversity can make you stand out as a firm in general and attract talented, ambitious professionals. Also, I believe that a diverse workforce, with its range of experience, expertise and working methods, can boost problem-solving and lead to greater productivity.

What steps does the legal community need to take to improve gender equality, particularly at partner level?

I believe any effort to support the development of current and future women leaders in the legal sector counts. At Bär & Karrer, our gender equality efforts focus on supporting female lawyers in making it to the top. As a mother, I am aware of what it takes to balance both career and family, and was grateful for any support I got.

How do you expect the legal market for private client work to develop over the next five years?

Private client work has become much more complex and challenging during the past few years. It is no longer sufficient to have an excellent knowledge about the variety of different services provided to our clients under Swiss law (eg, succession, family law, tax, governance etc), but it also needs a profound understanding of the common law system, and the guiding principles of cross-border planning and international taxation.

I expect more work for private client lawyers to come in the next five years, regarding both cross-border planning and, particularly, in the area of large-scale cross-border trust and estate disputes. We are well equipped to face these challenges: our private client practice has been considered one of Bär & Karrer’s core practice areas since the incorporation of our firm almost 50 years ago; it now has 38 lawyers. We can thus count on long-lasting experience and profound know-how in that area.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Tina Wüstemann is “excellent, as everyone knows” in the private client sector, according to impressed respondents.

Questions & Answers

Tina Wüstemann is partner and head of the private client team at Bär & Karrer. She has more than 20 years of experience in private client matters and is regarded as one of the leading Swiss experts in this field. She advises high-net-worth individuals and their families in estate and wealth-planning matters, and has a very strong practice in representing clients in large, cross-border trust and estate disputes. WWL named Tina Wüstemann as the 2019 Private Client Lawyer of the Year (Switzerland), and the 2019 Chambers HNW Guide ranks her in the top tier of Switzerland’s leading lawyers for private clients.

Why did you decide to become a lawyer?

I actually could have pictured myself in many different careers! I chose law because I felt it would allow me to combine analytical skills with my aptitude and love for languages. More than 20 years on, I am still very happy with my choice!

What do you find most stimulating about working in this field?

The interaction with our clients is one of my favourite parts of the job. I very much enjoy helping clients master challenges and coming up with innovative solutions. Further, I am someone who thrives in a team. To be able to tackle and solve complex legal issues in multi-disciplinary and often international teams is highly rewarding.

Have client needs changed over the course of your career? If so, how has the nature of your practice changed in response?

We deal with more complex cross-border issues – often in the role of overall lead counsel – than we did 20 years ago. Furthermore, the share of litigious work in the private client practice has clearly increased over the past couple of years.

Excellent knowledge of your own law is no longer enough; any successful private client lawyer needs to have a good understanding of both the civil and common law systems. Legal skills apart, intercultural competencies should not be neglected either. To be empathetic with clients and to be a good listener/communicator is an indispensable part of any lawyer’s toolkit in the private client field – and even more so when it comes to court proceedings.

To what degree do cross-border issues feature in your private client work?

Most of our work has cross-border elements to it. Increased mobility means that legal issues often spread over several countries as well – for instance, when a testator leaves large fortunes in complex structures covering various jurisdictions.

What particular challenges do charitable foundations face in Switzerland, and how do you help them overcome these obstacles?

Switzerland, with its political stability and secure legal framework, hosts many charitable organisations. Swiss law on foundations is flexible and with the considerable freedom of organisation that it provides, ensures that a founder’s wishes can be realised in the best possible way. However, we see in practice that often even large Swiss charitable organisations do not have an adequate governance structure in place given the substantial assets at stake. The Bär & Karrer private client team assists clients with setting up sophisticated large (international) charitable structures both from a legal and tax perspective, able to face the rapidly changing regulatory, tax and compliance environment.

How is the generational shift changing legal practice at your firm? What do younger lawyers do differently?

As a tendency, today’s generation of young lawyers adapt to new ways of working easily and are open to different approaches to solving a problem. At the same time, they specialise early on in their career, which wasn’t the case 10 or 20 years ago.

What we see increasingly, is that younger lawyers try to get an insight into the profession before they decide to embark on a career in a law firm. The Bär & Karrer summer trainee programme is very popular – and seems to pique the attendees’ interest in working at our firm, since the majority of them come back as trainees!

What steps is Bär & Karrer taking to support diversity in the firm?

Bär & Karrer has various measures in place to foster diversity. In view of increasing gender equality at the firm, a women’s network was launched almost 10 years ago and has been running successfully ever since. It includes meetings and lunches for female lawyers who are at different stages of their career at Bär & Karrer. The purpose is to discuss issues, obtain feedback and provide advice. On a more informal basis, female partners are available for one-to-ones with young associates, and let them benefit by sharing their experiences.

The working environment at Bär & Karrer is adapted as required to accommodate employees with physical impairments. We have employees with hearing deficiencies and also severe visual impairments, and have successfully integrated them into our workforce.

How do you anticipate the Swiss legal market changing in the next five years? How might this affect your practice?

Increased complexity of the issues we deal with for our clients will require even more concerted efforts from teams staffed from various firms, disciplines and countries. This development is likely to also have an impact on how we collaborate and deliver our services to clients, and the use of collaborative platforms might increase.

I expect the trend we observe with regard to increasing litigious work to continue, which means that private client teams won’t go out of work but rather grow.

Global Leader

Private Client

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Tina Wüstemann is lauded as a “star” and a “strong arbitrator and litigator” in the Swiss private client sphere. Peers add. “Clients love her; she’s clear and precise.” 

Biography

Tina Wüstemann heads Bär & Karrer's private client team, which is listed in first tier of all major ranking guides.

Tina has more than 20 years of experience in private client matters and is regarded as one of the leading individuals in this field according to major directories and publications.  

She has extensive experience in advising UHNW and HNW individuals and families in domestic and cross-border estate and wealth planning matters including trusts, prenuptial agreements, wills and relocations to Switzerland. In addition to her advisory work on succession, charities and governance matters, Tina has a very strong practice in representing clients in large cross-border trust and estate disputes as well as the administration of large international estates, often taking the lead coordinating various teams of lawyers across jurisdictions.

The B&K private client team is currently representing heirs in a multibillion inheritance dispute covering jurisdictions and assets all around the world, where, mostly, Tina not only acts as Swiss counsel for the clients but has the overall lead. Other examples of Tina's expertise in private client matters include advising UHNW individual and his family with overall wealth and estate planning, including succession and family law matters, corporate matters and family governance.

Who's Who Legal awards Tina Private Client Lawyer of the Year 2019 (Switzerland) and lists her in a Thought Leader in Global Elite 2019 as well as in WWL Thought Leaders – Switzerland 2018. She is considered to be among the most highly regarded private client practitioners in Switzerland. Additionally, sources consider Tina as "brilliant" and "exemplary on the contentious side".

Chambers and Partners HNW 2019 rank Tina Wüstemann in “tier 1” of Switzerland's leading lawyers for private clients and note that Tina is acknowledged as being "very much at the forefront of this industry". "When it comes to international estate planning, you can't beat her," enthuses one peer, and another source reports that "there are not many lawyers who have such experience in a wide range of cross-border cases". Wüstemann is further lauded for being "incredibly charismatic" and sources note that "clients love her".

Tina graduated in law from the University of Zurich, is also a member of the New York Bar (not practising) and holds an LLM from New York University. She speaks German, English and French. 

She publishes regularly and lectures on trust and estate matters in Switzerland and abroad.

Tina chairs the Zurich Annual Conference on International Trust and Inheritance Law Practice and serves as board member in several international charitable organisations. She is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS), the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) and of the International Academy of Estate and Trust Law (TIAETL).

Bär & Karrer is a leading Swiss law firm with more than 170 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.

In 2019, Bär & Karrer's private clients team  has been awarded at the Citywealth Magic Circle Awards as Law Firm of the Year – Switzerland and has won the STEP International Legal Team of the Year award as the first Swiss law firm ever.

National Leader

Switzerland - Asset Recovery

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Tina Wüstemann stands out for her impressive knowledge of international wealth management in complex asset tracing and recovery matters.

Biography

Tina Wüstemann heads Bär & Karrer's private client team, which is listed in first tier of all major ranking guides.

Tina has more than 20 years of experience in private client matters and is regarded as one of the leading individuals in this field according to major directories and publications.  

She has extensive experience in advising UHNW and HNW individuals and families in domestic and cross-border estate and wealth planning matters including trusts, prenuptial agreements, wills and relocations to Switzerland. In addition to her advisory work on succession, charities and governance matters, Tina has a very strong practice in representing clients in large cross-border trust and estate disputes as well as the administration of large international estates, often taking the lead coordinating various teams of lawyers across jurisdictions.

The B&K private client team is currently representing heirs in a multi-billion inheritance dispute covering jurisdictions and assets all around the world, where, mostly, Tina not only acts as Swiss counsel for the clients but has the overall lead. Other examples of Tina's expertise in private client matters include advising UHNW family residents in London with regard to their relocation to Switzerland, covering a variety of aspects such as complex trust structures, tax, matrimonial property and succession planning.

Who's Who Legal lists Tina as a Thought Leader in Global Elite 2019 and in WWL Thought Leaders – Switzerland 2018 and considers her among the most highly regarded private client practitioners in Switzerland. Additionally, sources consider Tina as "brilliant" and "exemplary on the contentious side".

Chambers and Partners HNW 2018 rank Tina Wüstemann in “tier 1” of Switzerland's leading lawyers for private clients and note that Tina is considered as "one of the best lawyers in Switzerland and a go-to name for international planning" and according to market sources, "extremely bright and personable, with a good team around her: a class act".

Tina graduated in law from the University of Zurich, is also a member of the New York Bar (not practising) and holds an LLM from New York University. She speaks German, English and French. 

She publishes regularly and lectures on trust and estate matters in Switzerland and abroad.

Tina chairs the Zurich Annual Conference on International Trust and Inheritance Law Practice and serves as board member in several international charitable organisations. She is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS), the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) and of the International Academy of Estate and Trust Law (TIAETL).

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 170 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.

Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly awarded Switzerland's "Law Firm of the Year" by the most prestigious international legal ranking agencies.

Switzerland - Private Client

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Tina Wüstemann is “excellent, as everyone knows” in the private client sector, according to adulatory respondents. She offers "thorough knowledge of Swiss law".

Biography

Tina Wüstemann heads Bär & Karrer's private client team, which is listed in first tier of all major ranking guides.

Tina has more than 20 years of experience in private client matters and is regarded as one of the leading individuals in this field according to major directories and publications.  

She has extensive experience in advising UHNW and HNW individuals and families in domestic and cross-border estate and wealth planning matters including trusts, prenuptial agreements, wills and relocations to Switzerland. In addition to her advisory work on succession, charities and governance matters, Tina has a very strong practice in representing clients in large cross-border trust and estate disputes as well as the administration of large international estates, often taking the lead coordinating various teams of lawyers across jurisdictions.

The B&K private client team is currently representing heirs in a multibillion inheritance dispute covering jurisdictions and assets all around the world, where, mostly, Tina not only acts as Swiss counsel for the clients but has the overall lead. Other examples of Tina's expertise in private client matters include advising UHNW family residents in London with regard to their relocation to Switzerland, covering a variety of aspects such as complex trust structures, tax, matrimonial property and succession planning.

Who's Who Legal lists Tina as a Thought Leader in Global Elite 2019 and in WWL Thought Leaders – Switzerland 2018 and considers her among the most highly regarded private client practitioners in Switzerland. Additionally, sources consider Tina as "brilliant" and "exemplary on the contentious side".

Chambers and Partners HNW 2018 rank Tina Wüstemann in “tier 1” of Switzerland's leading lawyers for private clients and note that Tina is considered as "one of the best lawyers in Switzerland and a go-to name for international planning" and according to market sources, "extremely bright and personable, with a good team around her: a class act."

Tina graduated in law from the University of Zurich, is also a member of the New York Bar (not practising) and holds an LLM from New York University. She speaks German, English and French. 

She publishes regularly and lectures on trust and estate matters in Switzerland and abroad.

Tina chairs the Zurich Annual Conference on International Trust and Inheritance Law Practice and serves as board member in several international charitable organisations. She is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS), the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) and of the International Academy of Estate and Trust Law (TIAETL).

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 170 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.

Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly awarded Switzerland's "Law Firm of the Year" by the most prestigious international legal ranking agencies.

Features by Tina Wüstemann

Private Client 2017: Discussion

Private Client 2017: Discussion

Awards won by Tina Wüstemann

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