Serge Calame

Partner, Head Private Clients, Geneva  |  Meyerlustenberger Lachenal (MLL)



Estate disputes
Trust & estate planning
Immigration & relocation

Enhanced Q&A

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

Settling a very complicated family dispute in relation to a third generation trust involving beneficiaries living in three different jurisdictions and "indelicate" trustees and protectors, whilst negotiating tax rulings with authorities in parallel.

How did you get into private client?

Private client work in Geneva is compulsory!

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

Building trust with exclusive clients takes time but the best marketing comes from satisfied clients, so be dedicated, open-minded and imaginative, of course very good at what you do and, perhaps most of all, patient!

What is your favourite quote?

“Please accept my resignation. I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member." Groucho Marx.

Do you have any outside interests or hobbies?

Anything in the mountains!

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

Le Coin du Bar, Geneva.

What do you think will be the biggest three challenges in your practice for the next 12 months?

Clearly the first challenge is to maintain a first class quality of services in the present Covid-19 environment. The second challenge is to reach out to the world when we will be able to travel and meet again whilst facing likely new tax initiatives that will most certainly come to light and impact our clients. The last challenge I foresee this year will be to see what dress-code will apply in the new post-Covid and post home office world!

Can you identify any new areas you have developed within your practice to further benefit your clients?

The present crisis has proven that Switzerland is very robust and provides a strong and stable system in the middle of a very shaken Europe. As such, we have been increasingly instructed to assist clients wishing to relocate themselves and/or their businesses in Switzerland, not only for potential tax benefits but also to benefit from the highest standards of healthcare and education.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Make sure you don’t stay virtually connected for too long! Meeting people and visiting countries is the only real way to understand cultures, people and the world we live in and develop the required emotional intelligence and diplomatic skills we need to properly advise sophisticated clients.