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Patricia Guerra

Partner, Head of Private Client (Zurich)  |  Meyerlustenberger Lachenal (MLL)
JURISDICTION

Switzerland
United States (NY)

TOP 3 AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Estate and succession planning
Private assets structuring
Philanthropy and charitable giving

Enhanced Q&A

What has been the highlight of your practice over the past 12 months?

It has been a special year and we had to adapt to a new way of working. This notwithstanding, having satisfied clients has been the highlight and extremely rewarding.

How did you get into private client?

I started many years ago as a corporate lawyer advising entrepreneurs. The firm was smaller at the time and lawyers in Switzerland were rather generalists than specialists. I began to advise our clients with regard to their private matters and discovered, enjoyed and developed this area.

What advice would you give rising stars/new lawyers in the private client world?

Advising with sincerity and integrity will reward you.

What is your favourite quote?

"Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value" – Albert Einstein

Do you have any outside interests or hobbies?

Walking in nature and music. Discovering cultures. Painting.

When the restaurants reopen, where would you like to go?

Yauatcha and Zuma in London.

Where have you seen growth in your practice over the last year?

Over the last year we have seen growth in the area of relocation of a younger generation of US and UK executives and UHNW persons and their families from the US and the UK to Switzerland. This resulted in a consecutive increase in demand of services in various practice areas such as taxes (including obtainment of tax rulings for trusts and structures that come with the individuals and family assets restructuring), immigration, family office related advice, review and adaption of estate planning and nuptial agreements, acquisition of real estate, etc. Several of these clients mentioned that they looked at Switzerland for its political, legal and tax stability, as well as quality of life. We have also seen an increase in estate planning requests of clients in general, that picked up after the standstill during the first lockdown.

What is the main area of growth you predict for the next 12 months?

We believe that the above mentioned trend will continue during the year.

What are three top tips for dealing with your clients remotely?

Clients expect the same level of service whether we work remotely or not. It is therefore important to show them that we are still as available and flexible as before.
Of course, all the tools for working remotely, including strong internet, remote access to files, secure communication and reachability by phone (cell or call forwarding) must be available.
In addition, my three tips for successfully communicating remotely with the clients are:
1. Prepare conference calls or video meetings with your team to make them precise, concise and short. Send any documents some days in advance to allow your client and his/her team to get acquainted with the matter at their own pace before the meeting. Remember that people, including your clients and their teams, are confronted each day with many conference/video calls. A different type of interaction has transformed our communication. Constant calls and video calls tire us out. Concentration is bound to decrease after a certain period of time and this will reduce efficiency and the concentration of your client in maybe important matters.
2. If you are participating in video meetings, make a good impression on your clients: have a tidy background (must look professional), choose good strong lighting, meet the expectations of your client with regard to the dress code, keep the video on at all times to show your interest (you may choose to mute for better acoustics in meetings with several participants when you are not speaking) and avoid getting distracted.
3. When constantly working remotely, there is the danger that if you love your job you will end up sitting in front of your laptop for hours without making a transition from work to private life. Remote work can also be isolating. Unplug and disconnect. Your mental health and rest are also important. You cannot take good care of your client unless you take good care of yourself.