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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In Europe, Middle East and Africa, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for seven consecutive years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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Switzerland > Private client > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

  1. Private client
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Who Represents Who

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Bär & Karrer Ltd. covers international wealth and estate planning, litigation, estate administration and execution, charity foundation, relocation, pre-nuptial agreements, M&A, tax planning and art collection advice. Team lead Tina Wüstemann, Daniel Leu and Daniel Bader are the main practitioners. Tax expert Christoph Suter joined the Geneva office in October 2017 from EY Law AG, while Robert Danon left to found Danon & Salomé at the start of 2017.

The ‘outstandingLenz & Staehelindistinguishes itself from other firms in providing specialist advice on succession law, taxation, family governance and cross-border estate planning through a dedicated, multijurisdictional team’. The ‘holistic’ practice is also recommended for its ‘stable relationship with preeminent Swiss financial institutions’ and focuses particularly on regulatory issues, dispute resolution as well as relocation and inheritance matters. Recent highlights include advising Schroder Trust and Schroder Cayman Bank & Trust Company on the transfer of trust portfolios of two bank-owned trust companies. ‘Superb litigator’ and head of the Lausanne and Geneva team Lucien Masmejancuts through all issues and finds a novel strategic solution’, while ‘inspiring great confidence among clients and colleagues’. His counterpart in Zurich, Heini Rüdisühliis recognised as a leading expert on personal taxation and complex cross-border issues’. Also recommended are Mark Barmes, who ‘gives clients the best possible advice’ and is ‘deeply experienced in working with trust companies’, Stefan Breitenstein, Shelby du Pasquier and tax experts Jean-Blaise Eckert and Frédéric Neukomm.

The ‘well-established and broadly experienced practice’ of Schellenberg Wittmer Ltd is ‘ahead of other firms in terms of quality, efficiency and rapidity of its services and personal attentiveness’, especially in connection with ‘complex cross-border tax planning matters and significant trust and estate litigation’. Other focus areas include estate planning and administration, real estate, transport and pre-immigration advice. The team represented family members in an international shareholder dispute concerning the family-owned corporation. Clients recommend the ‘very knowledgeableBernard Vischer, the ‘pragmatic and straightforwardDavid Wilson, ‘superb litigatorManuel Liatowitsch, ‘strong transport lawyer’ Grégoire Wuest, as well as ‘attentive and user-friendly’ counsel Andrea Dorjee-Good.

Proactive and attentive’ firm Walder Wyss Ltddemonstrates strength and depth’ and utilises its ‘unparalleled combination of private client expertise and professional advice across all major centres in Switzerland’, thereby also exhibiting an ‘understanding of international law’. Recent matters include assisting with the creation and registration of Fondation Concours Menuhin, which sponsors young, world-class violin players, and advising Rothschild Trust on a Swiss voluntary disclosure procedure concerning Swiss and Brazilian assets. The ‘charming and capable’ Philippe Pulfer is an ‘excellent listener and litigation strategist’ and ‘one of the very few top lawyers who understand the Anglo-Saxon environment well’, especially in relation to ‘international wealth structuring, succession planning and charitable foundations’. Clients equally recommend ‘trustful and sensitive estate and inheritance expert’ Kinga Weiss, who provides ‘compound and deep analysis’, taxation specialist Stephan Neidhardt, as well as ‘savvy litigator’ and ‘rising star’ Olivier Sigg, who is ‘sought after for his personable manner and precise answers given in record time’.

Baker McKenzie’s particular strengths in the private client area are its ‘depth of expertise and global networking capabilities’, due to which the firm provides ‘service quality irrespective of regions or individual lawyers’. The practice advises families, family offices, wealth managers and financial institutions on wealth, tax and succession management, as well as governance issues, trust and succession disputes. The ‘client-focusedMarnin Michaels has ‘comprehensive US tax and wealth-planning knowledge’ and gives ‘pragmatic advice on the spot’ and Stephanie Jarrett is ‘technically strong’.

Exceptional firmCharles Russell Speechlys AG fields ‘uniformly capable lawyers from senior to junior’, who have ‘solid knowledge in private client issues, including related litigation’ and impress with ‘highest work standards and timeliness’. The broad practice scope spans wealth structuring, governance and succession issues, international tax planning as well as regulatory, immigration, trust and family law matters. The ‘totally dedicated and practical’ Mark Summers, who ‘has good judgement and availability’, jointly heads the practice with the ‘extremely smart’ Michael Wells-Greco, who is ‘at ease when it comes to understanding clients’ needs’. David Cooney, who joined from Ogier in February 2017, has ‘expertise in Cayman trust law’ and Grégoire Uldry is a ‘diplomatic family litigator’.

Meyerlustenberger Lachenal Ltd (MLL) is comprised of ‘extremely personable and able lawyers with a high degree of technical ability and particular expertise in complex cross-border estates, including tax planning and post-death administration’; the team also handles relocation matters, business succession planning, inheritance disputes and asset management. The ‘very knowledgeable, responsive and professionalSerge Calame leads the Geneva practice, while ‘well-connected, seasoned practitionerPatricia Guerra, who ‘uniquely combines charm and class with experience, knowledge and persistence’, is the main contact in Zurich. Further recommended are ‘pragmatic’ inheritance and tax partner Nicolas Didisheim, ‘bright’ relocation and family law expert Maud Udry-Alhanko and counsel Jean-Charles Roguet.

Bratschi Ltdhas strong capabilities in the cross-border taxation area’ and is ‘organised to efficiently face the challenges of the international market’; expertise is further displayed in trust and foundation, estate planning and asset management matters. The ‘reliable and flexibleIngmar Snijders and the ‘extremely experienced and knowledgeableWalter Boss are recommended.

Homburger assists high-net-worth individuals and family offices with estate planning, tax and regulatory matters as well as the whole spread of contentious issues. The group continues to advise the executor on the administration of the late Marc Riche’s estate. The ‘client-centricGabrielle Nater-Bass is ‘a force to be reckoned with’, while ‘rising starClaudia Suteris a very good tax lawyer’. Estate planning lawyer Harold Grüninger leads the practice.

Long-established firmPestalozzihas truly managed to keep up to date on private equity structures for high-net-worth individuals and philanthropic organisations’; the practice also advises on relocations, regulatory services for family offices, yacht and aircraft registration, inheritance, divorce law, as well as trust and foundation disputes. Highlight work included the continuing assistance of various respective family members with the restructuring of Porsche’s ownership structure and representing a Pakistani citizen in an improper currency transaction management claim against his bank in Switzerland. Private equity expert Oliver Widmer and litigator Thomas Rohner are recommended. Christophe Emonet is the main contact in Geneva.

In 2017, Python handled an increasing number of inheritance disputes, while also providing advice on asset protection, tax, estate planning, domiciliation and family office matters. Jean-Christophe Hocke and Thomas Steinmann head the team, while Philippe Kenel, Nicolas Hoffmann and Ingrid Iselin Zellweger are other active partners.

Staiger Attorneys at Law Ltd handles estate and succession planning, inheritance contracts, family and matrimonial law, real estate isssues, tax matters and the establishment and management of foundations and trust. The team provided restructuring and tax planning advice to Nesinco Group and also regularly assists fashion brand Escada with all its legal needs in Switzerland. The ‘very experienced and knowledgeable’ Michael Hamm ‘has the ability to see the bigger picture beyond technical aspects’. Gian Andri Töndury and Hans-Rudolf Staiger are other names to note.

Borel & Barbey covers estate planning, succession law, family office services, foundation and trust law, as well as tax matters. The ‘very assured, experienced and knowledgeableLuc Hafner is recommended, as is Stéphanie La Roche-Dunant, who ‘has a pragmatic approach and is extremely devoted to her clients’. Estate and succession planner Olivier Dunant, immigration law specialist Marc Fischer, charitable adviser Louis Boissier and international taxation partner Laurent Kyd are other key members of the team.

High-quality law firmBurckhardt Ltd. fields ‘specialised lawyers in different fields’, who impress with ‘good networking skills’; the practice is also recommended for being ‘especially strong in inheritance and foundation matters, also on an international basis’ and further handles asset structuring, transfer, administration and distribution matters. In a recent highlight matter, the team handled the execution of a will made by a French citizen residing in Switzerland, concerning assets in France and North America. The ‘profoundly experienced and committedJacqueline Burckhardt Bertossa in Basel ‘presents excellent solutions with a business-oriented approach’. Further recommended are international wealth planning partner Mark Eichner and tax attorney Noëmi Kunz-Schenk.

CMS is ‘well known in the Zurich area, especially for cross-border estate matters between Switzerland and Germany’, during which the firm ‘impresses with fast, high-quality service and its very good and approachable international network’. A more recent focus was the European Succession Regulation, which also affects Swiss individuals, families and entrepreneurs. The creation of bespoke living wills due to legal incapacity is another source of work additionally to divorce or post-mortem matters and disputes. The ‘smart, committed, reliable and experienced’ inheritance specialist Tobias Somary is recommended, as is senior associate Louise Lutz Sciamanna.

Excellent and well-reputed law firmFBT Attorneys-at-Law provides ‘impeccable services’ in fund and wealth management matters, but is also ‘very helpful in resolving transnational tax and legal issues to the utmost client satisfaction’. The focus further lies on family business restructuring, succession planning, relocation, estate planning and administration, will execution, real estate, philanthropy advice, private banking and dispute resolution. Frédérique Bensahel and Jean-Louis Tsimaratos are both ‘analytical, thorough, highly available and risk-managing’; the ‘organised, professional and empathicMichel Abt and tax practice head Jean-Luc Bochatay are also recommended.

The ‘outstanding, flexible and very professionalFroriep provides a ‘very good and timely service to private clients, with special expertise in the art and non-profit sectors’; cross-border estate and tax planning, relocation and litigation advice are other mainstays of the practice. The client roster includes Jean-Claude Gandur, the human rights organisation Fondation Act on Your Future and the Philippe Hatem Foundation for a Happy Childhood. The ‘clear and promptJulie Wynne has a ‘broad experience in the charity and social enterprise sector’ and ‘exceeds clients’ expectation beyond the legal support’; counsel Oliver Arter is ‘capable and academically impressive’.

Lalive has ‘impressive experience in advising on wills and related areas across international jurisdictions’ and also handles tax, trust, estate planning and marital property issues; special expertise exists in the field of art law and inheritance disputes. Alexander Troller is representing an individual in proceedings regarding the recovery of assets from a Swiss private bank after the client’s offshore company accounts had been blocked due to alleged tax compliance and money laundering issues. The ‘highly competent, dedicated, committed and knowledgeableWerner Jahnel and ‘careful listener’ and associate Marion Binder recently represented several heirs in an estate succession dispute, which also concerned the release of funds.

MME Legal | Tax | Compliancehas profound expertise and know-how in private client matters and offers an excellent level of competence in business succession law’ as well as ‘a high service level and an outstanding work quality’; inheritance law and the financial aspects of matrimonial law are equally important core areas for the team. ‘Insightful and trustworthy strategic thinker’ Balz Hösly is ‘very experienced and hands-on in succession planning for small and medium-sized companies’ and senior associate Alexandra Geiger is also recommended for her inheritance and estate planning expertise.

Competent and professional’ firm Niederer Kraft Frey is ‘easy to work with’ and delivers ‘efficient, helpful, timely solutions which cover all the bases’. The practice combines estate planning, matrimonial property law, divorce law and philanthropy expertise with longstanding experience in tax matters and is thereby particularly noted for its’strongly business-oriented outlook’. Key figures are ‘reliable and pragmatic tax expert’ Thomas Graf and the ‘talented, practical and thoroughCatherine Grun Meyer, who ‘always asks the right questions’ and is ‘effective in driving projects forward’. Thomas Sprecher is ‘very experienced in advising on foundations’.

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  • Bär & Karrer awarded by Mergermarket as "Switzerland M&A Legal Adviser of the Year 2018"

    At this year's Mergermarket European Awards Ceremony on 6 December 2018 in London, Bär & Karrer has been awarded as the "Switzerland M&A Legal Adviser of the Year 2018".
  • Bär & Karrer Advises the Sellers of Astes4 SA

    The owners of Astes4 SA, a company based in Balerna, Switzerland, which is engaged in development, production and sales of patented automated sorting solutions for sheet metal laser processing machines, sold their interests in the company to Mitsubishi Electric Corporation. Mitsubishi Electric is active in the manufacture, marketing and sales of electrical and electronic equipment used in information processing and communications, space development and satellite communications, consumer electronics, industrial technology, energy, transportation and building equipment. By acquiring Astes4, Mitsubishi Electric will further strengthen its lineup of automation systems together with sorting solutions for sheet metal laser processing machines to provide its valued customers with integrated solutions that require less manual loading, unloading and sorting to realize higher productivity and efficiency.
  • Bär & Karrer Advises Constellium on the Sale of Rolling Business Assets in Sierre, Switzerland, to

    On 23 July 2018, Constellium Valais SA, a company of the Constellium group engaged in the aluminium plate and extrusions businesses for industry, aerospace and transportation applications, successfully completed the sale of its aluminium rolling business assets in Sierre, Switzerland, to Novelis Switzerland SA for EUR 200 million. The assets, consisting of real estate, machinery and equipment, were previously leased by Constellium Valais to Novelis Switzerland and both parties will continue to operate in Sierre following the transaction. Concurrently with the asset sale, Constellium Valais contributed the Sierre site's shared infrastructure to a newly established 50-50 joint venture with Novelis Switzerland.
  • Bär & Karrer Advises Bank Cler in Connection with the Public Tender Offer by Cantonal Bank of Basel

    On 20 June 2018, the Cantonal Bank of Basel, which already holds 77.52% of the share capital and the voting rights of Bank Cler Ltd., published the preannouncement for a public tender offer for all publicly held bearer shares of Bank Cler, which is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange. Subsequently, Bank Cler concluded a transaction agreement with the Cantonal Bank of Basel regarding the public tender offer. The Cantonal Bank of Basel offers CHF 52 per share of Bank Cler. Taking into consideration the results of the Fairness Opinion of an independent Expert, the board of directors of Bank Cler recommends to its shareholders to accept the offer.
  • Bär & Karrer Successful in Appeal Proceedings before the Federal Administrative Court Against the F

    On 11 May 2016, the French tax authorities requested administrative assistance from the Swiss Federal Tax Administration. The request was made based on lists containing several thousand UBS Switzerland AG account numbers which are or were held by persons presumed to be French residents for tax purposes. The French tax authorities were asking for Switzerland to provide names and dates of birth of the persons connected to the accounts as well as the account balances. UBS Switzerland AG (which the Federal Administrative Court ("FAC") had granted party status in its judgment A-4974/2016 of 25 October 2016) and private individuals directly affected lodged appeals with the FAC against the Federal Tax Administration’s final decisions, which were issued on 9 February 2018.
  • Bär & Karrer Advises BZ Bank on Purchase of United Grinding Group

    BZ Bank Aktiengesellschaft, through its acquisition company LEMRO AG, purchased the United Grinding Group from Körber Beteiligungen GmbH. The United Grinding Group is one of the world's leading suppliers of precision grinding machines.
  • Bär & Karrer advised PSP Swiss Property on Sale of a Commercial Property

    PSP Swiss Property sold a commercial property in Petit-Lancy, Geneva. The property at the Av. des Morgines 8/10 (approx. 14'000 m2 of rentable space) was sold for CHF 55 million to an affiliate company of Epic Suisse AG.
  • Bär & Karrer Advises Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs in a Combined Offering on the Placement of Sha

    Idorsia Ltd successfully placed 11,912,000 new shares by way of an accelerated bookbuilding in a private placement with institutional investors. The placed shares are sourced from the company's existing authorized share capital and the pre-emptive rights of the existing shareholders have been excluded. The offer price was set at CHF 25.62 per share. Additionally, Idorsia successfully placed CHF 200 million of senior unsecured convertible bonds due 2024 in a private placement with institutional investors.
  • Bär & Karrer Advises Vontobel on the Placement of CHF 450 Million Tier 1 Bonds to fund the acquisit

    Vontobel Holding AG successfully completed the placement of CHF 450 million perpetual additional tier 1 subordinated bonds. The additional tier 1 subordinated bonds were issued at 100% of their nominal amount with an interest of 2.625% until 2023. The proceeds of this capital market transaction will be mainly used to finance the acquisition of Notenstein La Roche Private Bank.
  • Bär & Karrer Advised Swiss Re in the Offering of USD 500 Million Senior Exchangeable Notes with Iss

    Swiss Re Ltd (Swiss Re) has completed an offering of USD 500 million, 6-year senior exchangeable notes, which may be stock settled at the option of Swiss Re or may be exchanged at the option of noteholders for registered shares of Swiss Re, unless Swiss Re elects to settle the exchange of notes in cash. Swiss Re has purchased call options on its own shares, which allow it to settle an exchange by noteholders without issuing new shares.