WWL sPeers and clients say:ays:
“Simone is one of the leaders in investigations and white-collar matters in Switzerland”
Simone specialises in complex domestic and cross-border internal and regulatory investigations for a broad range of topics, including corruption, ESG-related issues and incidents, money-laundering, fraud, cybercrime and harassment allegations. She is regularly retained by corporate clients to advise on crisis management, compliance and remedial action. She also has extensive experience with monitorships. Simone Nadelhofer is ranked among the 100 Women in Investigations 2021 worldwide by Global Investigations Review. She has recently co-edited and contributed to the first edition of The Guide to Internal investigations in Switzerland.
Describe your career to date.
I started my career as a lawyer in the banking and finance team of a leading law firm in Zurich. I quickly developed a strong interest for white- collar crime and investigations. In 2010, I joined LALIVE and helped set up a new office in Zurich with two colleagues, which was a new experience and a great opportunity to grow in an untapped market. Together with a larger team of lawyers, we have since then been able to develop a considerable investigations practice. We have for example, been the Swiss counsel to the US monitor of a large Swiss company, the first foreign monitor based in Switzerland conducting an in-depth investigation into the company’s US-related practices.
What inspired you to pursue a legal career?
I decided to become a lawyer when I was a teenager. I always liked arguing and defending my case, starting with my parents. Therefore, a career as a dispute resolution lawyer was an obvious choice, which I never regretted. What I love about the profession is the constant intellectual stimulation when dealing with complex and high-stake disputes and investigations, as well as the exchanges with interesting people from all over the world. Also, the legal system and issues affecting our clients constantly evolve, so there is no routine in my daily work. Now it is the new ESG regulations which are changing the legal landscape, particularly in investigations.
How has the market changed since you first started practising?
Two decades ago, investigations and white-collar crime did not exist as practice areas in the leading firms. Furthermore, and hard to believe, Swiss law firms had just started using emails as their means of communication at the time. In 2000, compliance issues were mostly related to anti-money laundering regulations for financial institutions. Since then, the world has changed, and investigations are an integral part of any serious compliance programme in companies in any industry. Also, investigations are conducted cross-border and Swiss companies are facing prosecution in other jurisdictions, above all in the US. With Glencore, for the second time, a Swiss company has been assigned a US monitor, which raises interesting questions, mainly of Swiss blocking statutes and data protection. Further new technologies are impacting the world of investigations through volume and granularity of data that can be accessed.
How do you establish a detailed understanding of a client’s business to advise them effectively?
Every engagement starts with thorough research on the client’s business, in particular the client’s public financial and non-financial reports. We also speak to the client’s management and employee’s and ask questions relevant to our engagement. A serious internal investigation or compliance advice requires an in-depth understanding of a client’s business and risks, as there are no tailor-made solutions.
How does your role as Corporate Counsel Forum Liaison Officer of the IBA Business Crime committee enhance your practice, and what are the goals of the organisation?
The IBA brings together legal practitioners from all over the world. My function allows me to closely interact with my peers and exchange insights into the business crime and investigations practice in other jurisdictions. When you follow a cross-border practice, staying abreast of international developments and establishing trusted relationships is key.
What impact will legal technology innovation have on investigations practice over the next five years?
LegalTech tools will further accelerate internal investigations and enhance efficiency of the process without being less concise. Speedy processes are key for companies wishing to cooperate with enforcement authorities and allowing them to complete investigations that would, in the past, have taken years.
Today, the proliferation of data sources is one of the biggest challenges when gathering the data relevant to an investigation. Possible perpetrators use a variety of mobile devices and applications, and devices such as drones, iPods, smart cars, and even cloud plays a role in the commission of crime. The further development of mobile forensics will hopefully make it possible and easier to access and use this type of data in investigations meaningfully.
What makes LALIVE stand out from its competitors in the market?
With LALIVE’s focus on dispute resolution, our team does nothing else than assist and advise clients in high-stake disputes, investigations and crisis situations. The firm stands out amongst its competitors as an independent firm, which is key in investigations, and the international exposure with Swiss roots. What makes the difference I believe, is the people that work for the firm and their drive for excellence, collaboration and inclusion.
You have enjoyed a very distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?
I would like to continue bringing solutions and give back to organisations with responsible business management approaches and apply my skills in ways that can drive sustainable impact. I am quite passionate about the topic of responsible business and am committed to implementing further measures - also within the firm - to create an accepting environment in which all people can thrive. I would also like to pass on my experience and knowledge to the younger generation and help young female lawyers on their career path in particular.