Catherine Grun Meyer: "Diversity, inclusion and internationality are embedded in our foundation"
The Niederer Kraft Frey partner speaks to Leaders League about the latest developments in the Swiss market, and what makes NKF different.
Leaders League: What changes did NKF implement during the pandemic, and has this induced any longer-term shifts?
Catherine Grun Meyer: The pandemic certainly forced us to partially rethink the way we work and urged us to accelerate digitalization and use the technology in place in a new way. Thanks to the Business Continuity Plan NKF set into force beforehand and our advanced IT infrastructure, we were able to act swiftly to switch our business to go fully virtual. Today, the majority of our professionals work remotely and clients will be kept informed with latest developments through our webinars, ensuring to provide continuity to our clients and guarantee the health and safety of all our professionals and clients.
NKF has the largest number of foreign qualified associates in the market. How does this make NKF unique in its positioning?
At NKF, diversity and inclusion as well as internationality are embedded in our foundation. Most of our lawyers have studied or gained professional experience abroad and/or are qualified in different jurisdictions. Our teams include first-class lawyers from China, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the UK and the US as well as Switzerland. The multicultural NKF team has a strong reputation for forming and fitting seamlessly into international teams when working cross-jurisdictional with law firms around the world. The combination of our strong domestic client base, our comprehensive understanding of the legal landscape in Switzerland and our international mindset makes us truly unique.
The Swiss legal market is both mature and quite competitive. What type of evolution do you foresee?
While the Swiss legal market becomes more and more competitive, with various international law firms entering the market, we are confident that NKF will continue to succeed in this environment. The provision of legal services still highly depends on trust and personal relationships apart from competent and tailor-made advice for clients. Due to our modern and continuously improving IT infrastructure, we can keep up with our peers in a competitive and digitalized market.
And our professionals are a further key to our success. With our various initiatives in place, our flexible working models, our open mindset and our ability to adapt to needs and expectations of younger generations, we attract the best talents in and out of Switzerland.
What role do women play in the Swiss legal market?
Lately, Swiss law firms have been able to foster gender equality; however, the ratio of women in partner positions is still very low. NKF is one of the Swiss law firms with the largest proportion of women, whereby it needs to be emphasised that all women are equity partners. For many years, women have made up over 50% of law graduates and many of them are highly talented. It is essential for our success to hire young and talented female lawyers and foster them into a partner role.
Valerie Meyer Bahar and I initiated a special “female partner model” back in 2010, enabling these career paths for female lawyers.The Swiss legal market has to continue to enhance equality by providing flexible working models for its employees to avoid missing out on talented women and their workforce. Furthermore, many studies concluded that mixed and diverse teams provide better work results and are more successful, a conclusion we can clearly confirm.
What are the firm’s main priorities over the next couple of years?
Our goals are clearly to further strengthen and advance our position in the market and to keep up with the high standards we have achieved in the past with regard to our services, our clients and our professionals.
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