Switzerland opens its doors to change

Author: | Published: 1 Nov 2000

The traditional international reputation of Swiss law firms goes something like this: over-protective, pedantic and, on a bad day, downright neurotic. It is a harsh stereotype, particularly as Swiss firms have had such characteristics forced upon them by their country's strict culture of confidentiality.

Until recently, a Zürich lawyer was prohibited to tell you his area of specialization, let alone anything concerning the deals he was working on. Bound by famously inflexible secrecy rules, law firms in Switzerland have failed to cultivate the swagger and strut of their European counterparts and, until recently, have had little need for the pyrotechnics of self-promotion. But things are changing.

Daniel Daeniker of Homburger in Zürich tells the story of a particular listing (due to take place on the Frankfurt exchange) that his firm handled this year: "For the teaser press conference in Frankfurt, one single financial journalist turned up. One single journalist. So they called off the...