Zurich Switzerland. (Photo: Pocholo Calapre/Shutterstock.com)
Baker & McKenzie, the world’s second-largest firm by gross revenue and head count, announced Tuesday the addition of 10 lawyers in the Swiss financial services center of Zurich.
The team includes M&A partners Beat Barthold and Pascal Richard, banking and finance partner Ansgar Schott, antitrust partner Boris Wenger and IP and IT partner Alessandro Celli, as well as five associates. All join Baker & McKenzie in Zurich from Froriep, a Swiss firm that also has offices in Geneva, London, Madrid and Zug, Switzerland.
“Many of our global clients have major business in Switzerland and this team’s global outlook, commitment to excellence and international client base is a perfect fit, allowing us to serve our clients even more effectively,” said a statement by Erik Scheer, a tax partner at Baker & McKenzie in Amsterdam and member of the firm’s executive committee.
Baker & McKenzie, a 6,045-lawyer global legal giant with offices in 47 countries, currently has about 130 lawyers in its Geneva and Zurich offices. The firm is the largest full-service shop in Switzerland and considers the practice areas provided by the new Froriep team to be of strategic importance, said Baker & McKenzie tax and private banking partner Marnin Michaels in Zurich.
Client demands for an international network to service their needs across different areas of law pushed some of the Froriep partners to approach Baker & McKenzie about the possibility of joining the firm some time ago, said Oliver Schmid, an M&A associate in the firm’s Zurich office. Rather than a hostile takeover, Schmid said the move was indicative of a changing legal market in Europe where clients are demanding firms that provide a wide range of high-end legal services.
“It’s the beginning of a process that happened in the U.K. and the U.S., where there’s a concentration on big law firms that can serve clients efficiently in all countries,” Schmid said. “Now this process is in Switzerland.”
Baker & McKenzie opened its Zurich office in 1958 and expanded to Geneva a decade later. The firm has advised clients—such as Swiss financial services giant UBS AG—on some of the most significant matters across Europe and elsewhere.
In 2015, in a case that The American Lawyer named one of its top global disputes of the year, Baker & McKenzie’s Zurich office advised 44 Swiss banks on negotiations with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding tax evasion liabilities that helped begin a new era of cooperation between the banking industry and governments.
The new recruits from Froriep will work alongside Christoph Wild, a health care and life sciences partner hired by Baker & McKenzie in Zurich last month from Swiss firm Wenger Plattner. Wild will officially join Baker & McKenzie on Nov. 1 and his new colleagues—none of whom were available for immediate comment—are looking forward to working together.
“We see it as a big chance to have access to Baker & McKenzie’s global reach for the benefit of the clients we bring with us and to be involved in Baker & McKenzie’s global network with its complex and multinational transactions,” Froriep’s Barthold said in a statement.
The latest Zurich additions build on what has been a busy hiring season for Baker & McKenzie in global financial centers.
In July, Allen & Overy finance counsel Filip Kurkowski left the Magic Circle firm’s Frankfurt office to join Baker & McKenzie as a partner, while bankruptcy partners Debra Dandeneau and Peter Goodman joined the firm’s New York office.
Baker & McKenzie’s Big Apple base also recently picked up corporate partners Steven Canner and Jan Joosten from Kaye Scholer and Hughes Hubbard & Reed, respectively. In London, Baker & McKenzie brought on former KPMG LLP senior partner Stephen Labrum as a tax partner for its transfer-pricing team.