Jennifer Jordan McCall

+1.650.233.4020

Jennifer Jordan McCall

Partner  |  Pillsbury Law
JURISDICTION

United States (CA, FL, NY)

TOP AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Estates, Trusts & Tax Planning
Private Wealth

Enhanced Q&A

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

There have been several highlights -growing our trusts and estates department at Pillsbury, including substantial revenue increase and addition of strong personnel, winning three trust and estates litigation proceedings simultaneously in California courts, advising on dozens of trusts at year end to save federal and state estate and income taxes and to take advantage of current high exemptions with sophisticated and cutting edge planning.

How did you get into private client?

My father was a trust and estates attorney for approximately 60 years; he served as a wonderful mentor. He worked at Cravath and Cadwalader and was second in his class at Harvard Law School. He was instrumental in breaking the Japanese Co. during WWII. Similarly, I have always loved math – I went to Princeton to major in math and I love tax law. It must be genetic.

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

There are no shortcuts. Every case must be handled extremely carefully, as this is highly technical. Double check your work and talk to your colleagues to develop innovative and correct tax strategies. Be patient with your clients, as their needs are highly personal and sensitive. If you follow these steps, you should develop a strong practice.

What is your favourite quote?

“The people who say it cannot be done should get out of the way of the people who are doing it.”

Do you have any outside interests or hobbies?

I love to make ceramics on the wheel – I actually had a Fulbright grant to make Ceramics in Copenhagen, Denmark after Princeton. I still have a studio. I also love to play golf – my favorite golf course is Royal County Down in Northern Ireland.

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

Café Benoit in Paris.

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

The international environment involving tax regulations and recent changes to US tax law. Some of the rules that have led to growth include: new controlled foreign corporation constructive ownership rules; GILTI, CRS, FATCA, and repeal of the 30-day rule.

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

Generation Skipping Tax (GST). With the new administration in the US, federal GST exemptions are likely to go down. They are at historic highs at present. The current GST exemption can exempt assets in a trust for an unlimited number of generations, however, to take advantage of that, clients would need to set up a trust in a jurisdiction that allows for long term trusts such as WY or DE. Currently, the limitation of the deduction is causing more high-net worth clients to relocate to FL and to use a FL resident as trustee of very large trusts, greatly increasing our FL business.

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

We have recently been coordinating more formally with our partners on Pillsbury’s award-winning Litigation team. Our team has successfully resolved conflicts, in trial and out of court, at home and in jurisdictions around the globe. Our team focuses on the various litigation-related needs of ultra-high-net-worth individuals, families and family offices bringing a seamless and holistic legal approach to resolving unique disputes and creating tailored solutions for our clients.


Patricia Guerra

+41443969191

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.


Robin Rathmell

+1 646 327 9424

Robin Rathmell

Partner  |  Kobre & Kim
JURISDICTION

Washington DC
New York
British Virgin Islands
England and Wales

TOP 3 AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Asset Protection
Dispute Resolution
Asset holding structures

Enhanced Q&A

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

Working on high-profile civil and criminal asset forfeiture and related trusts matters, as well as commercial and insolvency litigation around the world, often involving parallel actions brought by both U.S. and non-U.S. government agencies.

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

Don’t be a lawyer, be a problem-solver.

What is your favourite quote?

"If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” – Albert Einstein

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

1. Travel! It’s essential to meet certain clients face to face – not just if they have sensitive business to discuss, but also to build or maintain a human relationship. We’re not out of the COVID woods yet and Zoom meetings are starting to feel very old.
2. Travel Part 2! I think as the world opens up again people will travel far and wide and “rebound” from their locked-down 2020. Catching our high net worth clients wherever they are seeking sun or snow will be exhausting but necessary.
3. Travel Part 3! The world will open at different paces – concepts such as vaccine passports will affect who can travel where, and the inevitable (and tragic) unequal distribution of vaccines means that high net worth individuals based in non-first world countries may be more constrained than their competitors and may be harder to reach for their lawyers.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Stop analyzing the client’s problem as a black letter law question. It is a commercial and/or relationship problem that needs to be addressed holistically. Clients want someone that understands this and can explain a solution to them based on the outcome they want to achieve, not on the (undoubtedly brilliant) lawyering that is going to get them there.

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

1. Be as available and responsive as possible. Show them that you are still fully engaged. Reply to texts/ emails faster than ever before, even if it’s just to let them know you got their message and are working on it.
2. Video wherever possible. It is nowhere near as good as in person but much better than a conference call or email. Make an effort for your Zoom- if they are joining by video, don’t just dial in. Try not to take calls when driving or otherwise distracted. You wouldn’t be driving during an in-person meeting so don’t do it now.
3. Obviously your health, safety, and legal obligations come first, but if you can travel to see them, do. They really appreciate the effort during these times.


Basil Zirinis

+44 20 7959 8900

Basil Zirinis

Partner  |  Sullivan & Cromwell
JURISDICTION

United States (NY)

TOP 3 AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Complex cross border trust and tax planning
International trust and estates litigation
Family business governance and succession planning

Enhanced Q&A

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

Working with a team of leading English and offshore advisers on a series of complex restructurings of a network of large trusts to enable the settlor and beneficiaries to live wherever they wish, without adverse tax consequences.

How did you get into private client?

Good fortune!

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

Culture – focus on understanding the cultures (both legal and national) of the jurisdictions with which you are working.

What is your favourite quote?

“Direct action… It beats legislation." Ernest Hemingway.

Do you have any outside interests or hobbies?

Tennis and shooting.

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

Oswald’s in London.

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

US Citizens who wish to create non-US offshore trusts as a safe haven in case of political unrest or similar instability, as well as clients leaving the US to relocate in Europe.

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

Review of trusts and similar structures to stress test them for the next crisis and to revise the structures as needed to be most flexible, durable and compliant with all reporting requirements.

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

Expanding our ability to advise clients relocating on all the relevant jurisdictional needs, including the best advisors to add to their team so that advice is seamless and coordinated.


Joshua Rubenstein

+12129407150

Joshua Rubenstein

National Chair Private Client  |  Katten Muchin Rosenman
JURISDICTION

United States (NY, NJ)

TOP 3 AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Cross border planning
Litigation
Family office

Enhanced Q&A

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

A phenomenal victory that saved our client millions of dollars.

How did you get into private client?

I am the fourth generation Rubenstein to do private client work and was expected to join my father’s firm. However, I never wanted to be a lawyer. I was a Greek and Latin major at university. I finished my coursework for a doctorate in Latin. When it was time to pick my doctoral thesis, everything had already been done – you had to do something so microscopic that it was boring. Even though I realised I loved the Classics, I wanted to be practical – dissecting conjunctions wouldn’t help anybody! Then I wanted to be a lawyer, but not a trust and estates lawyer. Then I did a rotation to trust and estates and realised that I figured it out for myself, and I did want to do it, versus what was expected of me.

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

While the nature of legal practice and being a lawyer is changing rapidly, the need for private client lawyers may be closer than most things to being a constant, since it is based upon greed or opportunity but rather upon mortality – for which at least at the moment there is no cure.

What is your favourite quote?

"Ain't no use worrying about the things you can do something about, 'cause there's always something you can do about them. Ain't no use worrying about the things ain't nothing you can do about, 'cause ain't nothing you can do about them.”

Do you have any outside interests or hobbies?

I love travelling, fine dining, music (and playing the piano and guitar).

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

Five Fields, London.

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

1. When to resume in-person meetings. My answer is as soon as possible, but that depends upon everyone’s tolerance given the then state of affairs.
2. Crystal ball gazing. The world is in an unprecedented state of flux. Clients will want our best predictions, and wrong or right, they deserve them.
3. Client management. The easiest thing to do is exactly what our clients “say” they want. Because in reality they often don’t know what they really want, we will need to interpret their words, based upon our knowledge of them, and then help them achieve their actual as opposed to perceived goals. Tough job.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I trusted my instincts at the start of my career, when I chose private client over transactional work. It was counter-trend, but it was what I cared about. I was stressed for a long time over whether or not I should not have become an investment banker. I would reassure my younger self to trust my instincts.

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

1. Respond as soon as humanly possible, even if only to say that it will take more time to answer their question. Everyone is on tenterhooks and wants to know at least that you received their communication and are working on it.
2. Follow up proactively. Clients can be simultaneously exorcised about an issue but then in avoidance mode when it comes to responding.
3. Give practical advice. Clients want to benefit from our experience, not necessarily to know what saves the most taxes but more often what makes the most sense to do (which may or may not be the same thing).


Todd Martin Beutler

+1 702 695 1471

Todd Martin Beutler

Managing Partner  |  BMT Law Group
JURISDICTION

United States
- New York
- Ohio
- Florida
- Illinois
- Oregon

TOP 3 AREAS OF EXPERTISE

International tax and trusts
Succession planning
Dispute resolution

Enhanced Q&A

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

In a 7-year legal battle in California, successfully defending the individual trustee chosen by the deceased settlor against multiple malpractice claims over a period of years, and through a successful appeal overturning an erroneous trustee removal with the court upholding the pro-settlor legal principle that a settlor-selected trustee cannot be removed by beneficiaries based on their hostility to the trustee who, inter alia, enforced the settlor’s distribution requirements and limitations against the beneficiaries.

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

Seek out mentors in and outside the trusts and estates field, gain experience in complimentary areas of the law, understand your client’s business and personal goals, and provide practical advice that solves problems and doesn’t just identify them – thereby becoming a trusted advisor to your client.

What is your favourite quote?

"Laws control the lesser man... Right conduct controls the greater one.” Mark Twain

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

During COVID, I have seen growth in family office / family governance matters. Also, the US election has triggered many US tax-driven queries.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

In hindsight, I would tell my younger self to arrange remote workspace for a couple months at a time in locations like Tuscany, The Cayman Islands, Hawaii, etc, so I could combine working remotely with the unique opportunity to spend time somewhere out of the ordinary business travel for an American based in Asia.

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

Working remotely has certainly led to an increase in utilization of Zoom and other video conferencing for most communications. Many clients still hope for in-person meetings but there has been no downturn in the practice. In fact, it was one of the busiest years ever.


Elizabeth Kubanik

+44 20 7959 8403

Elizabeth Kubanik

European Counsel  |  Sullivan & Cromwell
JURISDICTIONS QUALIFIED IN

New York

TOP AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Personal and estate planning
Succession planning
Residency and domiciliation

Q&A

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

The highlight of my past 12 months is being part of a fast paced global practice which allows me the honor of working with a diverse range of clients, and brilliant lawyers on some of the most exciting matters.

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

Be proactive, both in building your network and in terms of always seeking to grow your knowledge and experience. Always remember that there is something to learn from everyone and every work opportunity, so stay open and say yes.


Vlad Portnoy

+1 212 920 6371

Vlad Portnoy

Managing Partner  |  Law Offices of Vlad Portnoy, P.C.
JURISDICTIONS QUALIFIED IN

New York
New Jersey

TOP AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Estate Planning
Probate and Administration of Estates (including cross-border)
Guardianships

RECOMMENDED SPECIALISMS

Private Investment Office

Q&A

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

Many exciting and challenging legal matters, including several highly coveted fiduciary Court appointments

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

Listen to your clients. Understand not only their immediate needs but also their hopes, dreams and motivations. Always try to understand your client better as a human being before bringing it back to the legal or business talk.

What sets you apart from your peers?

Personal touch and care. Also, I am bilingual in English and Russian. Having received high school education in Russia, and having gone through graduate and law programs in the United States, I keenly understand the way both countries operate and the way their citizens think and behave. As court-certified interpreter, I can translate not only between the two languages but also convey ideas, so nothing is ever lost in translation.

What is your favourite quote?

"I can accept failure. But I can't accept not trying." - Michael Jordan


Claudia Caffuzzi

+12124640894

Claudia Caffuzzi

Vice Chairman  |  JP Morgan
JURISDICTIONS QUALIFIED IN

New York

TOP AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Planning for Latin American individuals
US cross border planning

RECOMMENDED SPECIALISMS

Private Banker
Multi-National Families

Q&A

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

I have been advising clients in Latin America for over twenty-five years, and have had the pleasure of helping families pass their wealth across generations, with multiple jurisdictions involved. Through my practice and professional network I have been able to share trends and experiences from across the globe to clients throughout Latin America, with a focus on Mexico.

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

I think the best advice I can give to someone starting out in their career is that private client work requires a deep sense of empathy, great curiosity, a strong moral compass and a keen eye for detail.


Wei Zhang

+852 3711 1644

Wei Zhang

Partner, Registered Foreign Lawyer  |  Withersworldwide
JURISDICTIONS QUALIFIED IN

California, USA
New York, USA
Connecticut, USA

TOP AREAS OF EXPERTISE

Tax
Wealth planning
Structuring