Switzerland: The swiss defence
Switzerland's commercial lawyers, buoyant with optimism only a year ago amid the growing corporate and private wealth that was pouring into the country, now look ahead with some uncertainty. Private equity deals, a staple of many Zurich practices, dried up at the high end during the latter half of 2007, as transactions that were close to being inked fell apart, victims of shaky investor confidence - or outright bolting. Nevertheless, Switzerland's lawyers are putting a brave face on the crunch, playing down the business they have lost and touting the practice areas that remain robust: M&A and arbitration, for example. Smaller-scale transactions show no sign of ebbing, firms say. And other practice areas are growing to fill the gaps - defence mandates are booming, thanks to an increasing number of corporate hostile takeover attempts in the market. Tax, competition and initial public offering (IPO) work remain healthy, bolstered by new legislation that went on the books recently. Some firms are growing their practices into niche areas such as energy law, or are looking at business beyond their borders - the courting of Russian private and corporate clients, who have money to spend, is a growing story in Switzerland's legal market.
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