Farrer & Co has become the third UK firm this year to establish a presence in Zurich, as private client practices seek to take advantage of the city’s growing strength in the area.
Senior partner Jim Edmondson said the firm’s head of tax Robert Field and private client partner Nick Dunnell were spending alternate fortnights in Zurich.
For the time being the firm is operating out of serviced offices, but Edmondson said Farrers would keep this under review and could well set up a permanent base within the year.
Farrers follows fellow private client specialists Withers and Speechly Bircham into Zurich. Withers opened in the city in January, citing an intention to attract instructions from high-net-worth individuals from Russia, Eastern Europe and Israel. The firm also has an office in Geneva.
Meanwhile, Speechly Bircham announced a fortnight ago that partner Mark Summers was relocating to Zurich (TheLawyer.com, 1 June).
Zurich is the first foray overseas for both Speechlys and Farrers, highlighting the importance of Switzerland as a source of private client work for UK firms.
“We didn’t want to go out with a full office or set up a structure that might seem to be competing with local lawyers, and we’re also very conscious that we’re not the first people there,” said Edmondson. “It’s an understated approach.”
Other UK firms focusing on private client work, including Charles Russell, are in Geneva but not Zurich. Geneva has traditionally been seen as the Swiss centre for private client work, but Zurich is increasingly picking up the more institutional side of the business.