Swiss home for English lawyer

Howard Rosen. British-Swiss Chamber of Commerce

Switzerland is home to thousands of non-Swiss who play a vital part in the running of the Swiss economy.

This content was published on December 21, 2001 minutes

Many have taken a leading place in the Swiss business world and among them is English solicitor Howard Rosen, president of the British-Swiss Chamber of Commerce.

Born in London in 1955, Howard Rosen studied law at Oxford University and then qualified as a solicitor in London. He now has a legal practice in Zug, which he started in 1988.

"I think there is an element of wanting to do right by people and wanting people to get the results they deserve," Rosen said about his choice of pursuing a career in law.

"I became a solicitor rather than a barrister because I saw myself more as a behind the scenes facilitator than someone dancing on the stage. Law is a fascinating area, much maligned at times, but still we perform a very important role in society," he said.

Howard Rosen moved to Switzerland in 1983 for what he thought would be a couple of years.

"The best things happen by accident. I was working for a United States multinational that had its European head office in London," explained Rosen. "It decided in 1983 to move its European head office to Switzerland, and as I hadn't worked outside Britain before, it seemed like a great opportunity."

After five years in Switzerland working for someone else, Howard Rosen decided that he should start up on his own.

"At the end of 1988, I told the company I was working with that it was time to move on. They asked me what I wanted to do and I said that one thought I had was to start my own firm," Rosen said.

"They made me an offer I couldn't refuse in which they gave me a retainer contract so I could start up my own firm, on condition that I remained in Switzerland. That wasn't a great hardship."

Rosen is now a well-known figure on the Swiss business scene. His legal practice is a bustling enterprise and is the only English solicitor's practice in the German-speaking part of Switzerland.

Offering advice on trust issues and asset finance, Rosen advises clients in relation to moveable assets.

"If I was working in London, I would probably be working for a very large law firm and probably not enjoying life as much I am today," said Rosen. "It's easier to be someone special in Switzerland because it's a smaller country and because it's a smaller business community compared with the vast commercial metropolis of London."

Certainly there is still a sense of personal contact in the way business in Switzerland is done, a factor that has decreased over the years in Britain and the United States.

Rosen thinks Switzerland is an "excellent place to run a business in" with its strong infrastructure, good support systems and what he calls "an open business environment".

"The authorities particularly in Zurich and Zug are very open and very willing to help international business," added Rosen "And because there is a high proportion of foreigners working in Switzerland, it creates an international business environment in which we have to work together."

Rosen is also very active in his role as president of the British-Swiss Chamber of Commerce. He took up the post in 1998 and brought a great deal of enthusiasm and energy.

"Soon after I opened my own law firm, I approached the then president of the chamber and asked what it was doing for lawyers," explained Rosen. "So I started out by organising events for lawyers at the chamber, becoming a councillor in 1991, vice president in 1996 and president in 1998."

Rosen's 18 years in Switzerland have seen him build up an impressive legal practice, while he has also taken a leading role in the business scene through his work at the British-Swiss Chamber of Commerce. It seems that for this English solicitor, Switzerland is now home.

"Sure I grew up in London and I go back there regularly but I have no plans to move back to the Britain," said Rosen. "My kids are at school here, my wife has a job here and we are very happy in Switzerland...I think Switzerland is where we will stay."

by Tom O'Brien

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