Senior Partner and Head of Arbitration Daniel Hochstrasser gives some insights about the prominent Swiss law firm Bär & Karrer, focusing on its international network, innovation and the careers of women within the firm.
Leaders League. Bär & Karrer currently has four offices. Would you say that you have all your bases covered to compete with both domestic and international law firms?
Daniel Hochstrasser. With our offices in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug we are present in all language areas of Switzerland and well positioned to advise clients on domestic and cross-border matters. We will continue to grow these offices organically and – if an opportunity arises – with carefully selected lateral hires.
Leaders League. Over the years Bär & Karrer has developed a strong network of lawyers from the US, the UK and Continental Europe. In what ways has this helped the firm gain worldwide recognition and increase workflow?
D.H. Since most of our work has an international component, we have broad experience in handling cross-border proceedings and transactions. We built our strong global network and our reputation by always performing and
by matching or exceeding the expectations of corresponding law firms from all over the world. Our frequent involvement in high profile transactions and disputes also makes us stand out internationally.
Leaders League. Innovation has been a major priority. What’s currently on your agenda?
D.H. We are currently focusing on fie projects of strategic importance: Firstly, we are improving quality, speed and efficiency of standard document production by introducing automated document assembly. Secondly, we are improving client know-how development and cross-selling opportunities by introducing a CRM tool. Thirdly, we are we increasing efficiency in matter management with a new system to manage documents and emails. Fourthly, we are building a new management information system by integrating the principal functions of a comprehensive business intelligence strategy into a single application. This will improve the information and data available to Bär & Karrer’s management team. And last but not least we are in the process of switching to a paperless system wherever possible to improve the firm’s ecological footprint.
Leaders League. Law firms have a reputation for being male-dominated. This statement, however, doesn’t ring true as many of your female counterparts have taken on some of the most complex transactional and litigation work (i.e.: Tina Wüstemann, Susanne Schreiber, Mariel Hoch, Nadja Jaisli and Phyllis Scholl). Tell us more about the firm’s inclusion and diversity efforts.
D.H. We do our best to support our female talent in pursuing their career by offering flexible working and partner track models. However, all female partners you mentioned achieved their success based on their own outstanding performance, not because of a special inclusion and diversity program favoring women.
Leaders League. Switzerland is home to many arbitration centers (the World Trade Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization and the Court of Arbitration for Sport etc.). In what ways has this helped your firm in developing its arbitration desk?
D.H. The fact that Switzerland is an international hotspot for arbitration certainly helped – and continues to help – our firm to develop our arbitration practice. We are particularly strong in this field, with growing teams of arbitration specialists in Zurich, Geneva and Lugano. We will further strengthen our practice by adding two high-profile partners in 2017. Whereas I am one of two Swiss arbitrators at the ICC Court of Arbitration in Paris, one of my partners frequently sits as arbitrator in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.