Various components permit the Swiss leading law firm Niederer Kraft & Frey to keep on performing in an ever-changing business environment. Daniel Eisele, partner at the firm, discusses the key elements.
Leaders League. As one of the oldest and most prominent firms in the country, what is your take on the recent changes in the Swiss legal market?
Daniel Eisele. Despite our steady and substantial growth in revenues and in number of lawyers over the last number of years, our prime goal is not quantity, but quality. We want to provide the best possible quality of work to our clients. That is our commitment. International firms have not moved into Switzerland on a large scale, and rather concentrate on niches. NKF and the other large Swiss law firms offer the full range of legal services.
Our focus is on our clients: their business, the industries in which they operate, how their market is changing and how we can help them to achieve their goals and sustainable success. We also focus on being proactive partners to the foreign law firms we work with across the globe so that through us, they can best serve their clients when an issue of Swiss law arises and so that we can guarantee our Swiss clients our introduction to the best international advice when their business takes them beyond the Swiss jurisdiction.
We enjoy providing efficient, first class legal services and applying our advice to the business context in which our clients operate. We continue to be agile and flexible so that we can continue to provide that quality service regardless of how the environment changes.
“Swiss law continues to be an attractive legal framework for international transactions and Swiss courts are often chosen to resolve disputes”
Banking secrecy is coming to an end. Coupled with Brexit, how do you envisage the Swiss legal market in the medium term?
Swiss bank secrecy still exists, even though the scope has certainly considerably changed in the last few years, for several reasons. However, these developments have no strong effect upon our legal practice, as they rather concern the business activities of banks. Brexit has no major effect upon the Swiss legal market. As Switzerland is not a member of the EU, we rather watch these developments in Europe from the sidelines. Our international approach is a global one, not one that only concentrates on Europe. Other regions, like the US, China and other Asian countries, have become significantly more important over the last few years. We consider the prospects of the Swiss legal market to be very good. The economy continues to be very strong. Companies are successfully acting in the international markets, selling products worldwide. Swiss law continues to be an attractive legal framework for international transactions and Swiss courts or arbitral tribunals are often chosen to resolve disputes.
Switzerland has witnessed important deals in the last couple of years. What is your view on Swiss M&A?
We recently handled some major, highly publicized M&A transactions, this year namely the $30 billion public take-over of Actelion and the dual track exit process regarding Landis+Gyr resulting in the largest Swiss IPO of the last ten years, both of which involved close cooperation with major foreign law firms. We don't only concentrate on the large, multi-billion euro transactions though. We are also involved in many smaller M&A transactions, in particular in the luxury goods and technology areas. M&A transactions require excellent teamwork by lawyers from different teams in our firm. The ability to be at the forefront of legal development in each specialist area is key to our success in the M&A area.
Innovation is a considerable attraction for clients. What has NKF put in place in order to be at the cutting edge of innovation?
We are always looking at how we can harness new technologies and innovations to make our work more efficient so that we can pass those efficiencies on to our client. We are innovative in terms of looking at keeping our business lean and efficient. We know that our key focus should always be our commitment to our expertise and up to date industry knowledge. Our experience informs our next creative steps and permits us to be proactive.
For a law firm innovation which adds value is about great judgment, fast thinking, empathy and the ability to handle legally complex matters and to assess potential risks. Whether in transactions or in disputes, the ability to find a creative solution is a key factor.