As part of its rapid expansion, LALIVE has also seen the number of arbitration interns it employs grow. The International Intern Committee (ComStagInt) was set up in 2013 and I have been a member since the outset (together with two partners and an associate). As a Committee, we are tasked with selecting interns and, once at the firm, we ensure that they integrate well into the team and make the most of their time with us. Being part of ComStagInt is a hugely rewarding part of my job. I also enjoy helping our interns with any questions they may have.
In general, we offer what most international arbitration firms offer: stimulating work in a fast-paced environment. However, we do pride ourselves in trying to take care of our interns a little better than some of our competitors. In addition to the four-member Committee which is here to help our interns, we have structures in place that are intended to ensure that all interns get a fair balance of different types of work. Interns are in the first instance in charge of dividing tasks among themselves, which means that if someone has been doing cite-checking for three days when an interesting research question comes up, we would assume that she or he will volunteer for the research task. Because many LALIVE lawyers act also as arbitrators, and make academic contributions in the form of articles or presentations at conferences, it is likely that an intern will get a chance to help with these sorts of tasks as well. Often interns get assigned to one of our larger cases and will become full members of the team for the duration of their internship. Our internships usually last six months, which we believe is the perfect duration to get acquainted with different types of work, while not staying so long that certain tasks become repetitive. Some of our interns stay with us after their internship and become associates.
We do not assign interns to a particular partner or associate, as we think it is better for the interns to get exposure to several different people and their working styles. We also do not offer internships specifically in investment law or public international law.
We look for young and motivated people with some experience or knowledge (such as an LLM, participation in a moot competition or a previous internship) of international arbitration. Attitude and a team spirit are hugely important to us. We try to have a diverse pool of interns at any given time to ensure that we have always someone who speaks the most common languages in which we conduct arbitrations (English, French, Spanish and German) and that we have a good balance of people from different legal traditions (civil and common law, with some knowledge of public international law as well). Given the cultural diversity at the firm, we are also interested in unusual profiles. We get numerous applications, which means that the places in our program fill early – usually we are full for at least a year ahead.
I had the pleasure of being one of the first members of the LALIVE Zurich office when it opened in 2010. We were only 3 lawyers back then and in only 8 years have evolved into a structure with 20 lawyers. Naturally, with our Geneva office with a history of more than 50 years and over 60 lawyers from more than 15 jurisdictions and as many languages spoken, the Zurich office never was a real “start-up” but I always enjoyed working in a relatively small and young team in a truly international and very dynamic environment. The flat hierarchy, combined with a great portion of autonomy in my work from day one, have always been a great selling point.
In 2013/14, I had the opportunity to go on a one year secondment at a law firm in Beijing which was part of Terralex, an international network of law firms which we belong to. I was the only foreigner there and thus enjoyed a truly authentic Chinese experience. It was a very enriching time, I was fascinated by the Chinese “can-do” attitude and entrepreneurial approach and was able to further expand the firm’s Asian practice. Shortly after my return from China, I was promoted to Counsel and only 3 years later I became a Partner of the firm. I am very grateful for the opportunities LALIVE has offered me and the support I have received from the individual Partners of the firm throughout my career.
I am immensely proud of the development of the Zurich office, which has now evolved into a well-established player in Zurich. Testimony to this is the high number of excellent applications we receive from young lawyers wanting to develop their career at the firm.
I studied international law and human rights law for a good part of my career, so it was important for me to find an international firm that shared my values. Quite uniquely in Switzerland and in law firms in general, in Lalive I found a firm that is not afraid to defend its ideas on the domestic or international stage, and I had the opportunity to give life to the principles I studied and see international law and human rights law in action.
The cases I work on are diverse, to say the least. In one day, I can work on a range of mandates including a complex international arbitration, whistleblowers’ protection, real estate law, international corruption cases or extradition proceedings. As trainees, we thus have the chance to draft appeals before Swiss courts and international arbitral tribunals, maintain good relationships with clients, participate in hearings before state and federal Prosecutors, and conduct research and draft legal opinions on all topics domestic and international. Even in the biggest cases, Swiss trainees never take a backseat but always remain involved in client meetings, research, strategy and drafting.
While LALIVE is a competitive environment, colleagues and more senior staff do not act as competitors or hierarchical figures but as friendly people eager to share their experience and inspire. This in turn creates a place people are happy to work at. It is even more so the case as the firm offers an excellent work and life balance, which is especially remarkable considering the high-stake and challenging cases the firm is entrusted with.
I joined LALIVE in early 2009 and work on a very good mix of commercial and investment arbitrations, ranging from the very large to the smaller cases. Given that I am qualified both in England and Wales and in Spain, arbitrations subject to a broad range of laws, both from common law jurisdictions and civil law jurisdictions, have come my way. The dual-qualification has also been a boom in the field of investment arbitration where the issues often have a mixed origin.
Over the years, I have been given more responsibility, particularly at hearings which is the part of the job I most enjoy. We have also grown substantially since I have been here, thereby allowing me to be on a greater number of arbitrations at once and manage larger teams.
My practice is veering towards arbitrations in Latin America, which the firm rightly sees as a market with huge potential. That is a very natural fit for me given my background and I have been involved in several Spanish-language arbitrations. Though the competition is intense in that market, I think that our many decades of experience in the field gives the firm a grounding not only in investment arbitration but also in commercial arbitration.
I enjoy a good dose of freedom at LALIVE to develop business. The firm’s management always has an open door to brainstorm and encourages new ideas. The feel is definitely very entrepreneurial and open. Although long-term relationships are important everywhere, I would say that they are even more so in Latin America, so it is necessary (and enjoyable!) to be present as much as time allows and the firm has been very supportive in that regard.
The Latin American market is definitely receptive to what LALIVE represents, a firm that cut its teeth on the world stage from the very beginning and is therefore very open to new ideas and different cultural approaches.
What I most enjoy and appreciate about the firm is the cultural diversity of the team members, their open-mindedness and general good-heartedness. I clicked here immediately. Each person has their own cultural background and there is a respect for the different approaches. Hence, Germans, French, Spanish, British, Turkish, Argentines and a long etcetera, can all live and work well under one roof. A close second is the diversity of the type of work, as well as working with people whom I profoundly respect. I am convinced that we have a team that is among the very best in the world.
I joined LALIVE in January 2013 as an international trainee in the arbitration department and was offered a position as an associate at the end of my traineeship (having been admitted to the Bar in Paris in the meantime).
When I was a trainee, I was treated like a full member of the team on the cases I worked on (which included attending hearings). Since becoming an associate, I have been given more responsibility and the opportunity to manage small cases from beginning to end. On larger cases, I work closely with experts and witnesses on a day to day basis on the issues I am in charge of. Furthermore, I have already been offered several oral advocacy opportunities.
I am currently advising both governments and corporates on commercial arbitration cases in the construction sector in the Middle East and in Europe. In the past, I also worked on cases related to many different industries, including telecommunications, oil & gas, metals and real estate and spanning jurisdictions including Africa, USA, Europe and Asia.
The thing I enjoy the most about working at LALIVE is the extremely friendly environment. I work with amazing colleagues, some of whom have become very close friends. It is a pleasure to know that you can count on them when working on very demanding and stressful tasks. I find the partners very accessible and close to the associates of their teams. With time, I have built strong relationships with some of them.
I also like the balance between work and private life. Though there are busy periods close to filings, I generally have the impression that partners and colleagues try to help in order protect my private life, avoiding unnecessary work at night or weekends whenever possible. The partners tend to encourage us to be autonomous in the organisation of our time and our work. As a result, there is a feeling of mutual trust, which is highly appreciated in this very demanding job.
After 13 years at the Swiss Federal Police, working primary in a leadership role, I was looking for a new challenge in the private sector. While I had a legal background, my experience in law enforcement was not an obvious fit for a traditional law firm. However, my background and skills were a perfect match when LALIVE was looking for support to coordinate their larger internal investigations projects. I was impressed by LALIVE’s open mindedness to explore new paths, their sensitivity for new trends and exceptional team spirit.
My role was new when I joined the firm and the department continues to grow. I coordinate and supervise the firm’s larger investigations and compliance cases and act as a central contact point internally, for clients and external service providers. This role allows me to capitalize on my ability to motivate, communicate and implement projects.
The firm has invested in my training, allowing me to develop. I have had the opportunity to speak at conferences and trainings focusing on my area of expertise.
In addition, LALIVE has been very strong in supporting women over the past few years. As part of this, it is open to flexible working arrangements. I am a mother of two children at school age and work 70%, which allows me to spend time with them. I greatly appreciate this flexibility and in return I am strongly committed to the firm which places so much importance on these values.
I have recently become a father and have been the first to benefit from the firm’s new initiative to grant two weeks of fully paid paternity leave. I find this to be a good gesture of the firm in its efforts to improve working conditions, support its employees and promote gender equality in the workplace, which I believe can only be attained by allowing fathers to be more involved at home. Going forward, I appreciate the firm’s flexible working hours policy which includes working from home when needed.