Anne Véronique Schlaepfer
White & Case LLP
Quai du Mont-Blanc 5
1201, Geneva, Switzerland
Peers and clients say:
"Anne Véronique is a brilliant lawyer"
"She has an excellent understanding of how to present complex matters, such as in construction disputes"
"The best arbitrator for construction arbitration"
"She is almost omniscient!"
Anne Véronique Schlaepfer is one of the leading international arbitration lawyers in Switzerland. She is a partner in the firm’s international arbitration practice and executive partner of the Geneva office. Anne Véronique has held leadership roles at some of world’s most important arbitral institutions (she is has been the vice-president of the ICC Court between 2015 and 2021 and a member of the ICC Executive Board). She has acted as counsel in 150+ arbitration proceedings, served as arbitrator in 30+ cases and represents parties before Swiss courts in arbitration-related court proceedings, in particular in challenges to arbitral awards.
What inspired you to pursue a legal career?
I have been interested in legal issues, the ability to build a strategy and argue a point of view, since I was a child. I think that I simply reached the conclusion that this was a career that matched my interests and personality.
What has been your most memorable case to date, and why?
Many cases are memorable for one reason or the other. I would think most memorable cases are those in which arguments, which were right but not obvious at the outset, finally prevail. Putting in place a strategy to be able to show that the position of our client is the right one is the most interesting part of a case. The more complex it is, the more memorable the outcome is when we are successful.
What is the greatest challenge currently facing arbitrators?
The ability to master cases, which have become huge, and be able nonetheless to determine what the truly relevant issues are. There are also procedural challenges, which tribunals are currently facing. The interests at stake may be huge and this places significant pressure on parties, which then tend to fight with all possible means, notably at a procedural level. Tribunals need to be strong, in order to maintain proceedings on track, which is not always easy.
How does White & Case SA stand out from its competitors in the market?
We have a very competent team composed of practitioners with different legal and cultural backgrounds. Our team focuses on international arbitration and the practical experience gathered by handling a variety of cases is significant. We are also able to rapidly adjust to the particularities of a given case. Nowadays, being flexible and able to address the needs of each case is very important.
Where, in your opinion, does the future of international arbitration lie?
The ability to adapt to the needs of the market, of being fast and focused. Efficiency is often put forward as a key ingredient of international arbitration, and, in my view, it is going to be more and more relevant.
What has been your greatest achievement to date?
Building W&C’s Geneva arbitration practice is one. Success in key matters is another.
What advice would you give to younger lawyers hoping to one day be in your position?
Work is key. Then, there is much to learn in observing how arbitration proceedings unfold. Reading submissions, attending hearings, being involved in strategy discussions are an essential part of the training. Participating in conferences is a pleasant and useful aspect of the training, because it gives young lawyers the opportunity to see how more experienced practitioners would resolve particular issues. Building one’s personal network is another key aspect of being successful and it makes sense to start early in one’s career.