60-second interview with Michael Wells-Greco

Michael Wells-Greco , 10/5/2017

Dr Michael Wells-Greco TEP is a partner at Charles Russell Speechlys, head of its Geneva office and Assistant Professor at Maastricht University. Michael advises on family law and private client matters, both contentious and non-contentious. 

What does your firm do?

With offices in the UK, France, Luxembourg, Switzerland and the Middle East, Charles Russell Speechlys is a full service firm dedicated to families and their businesses. From our offices in Geneva and Zurich, we offer integrated Swiss, UK and cross-border legal and tax advice.

What has STEP done for you, individually, or as a business?

STEP offers a unique forum in the private client industry for exchange with others – nationally, regionally and internationally.

What is the most important thing STEP does, in your opinion?

I particularly value STEP’s lobbying for the private client sector, and the work of its diligent committees and Special Interest Groups in taking the lead with forging policy and reviewing legislative consultations.

What do you most like about your job?

I like sticking up for people, making sure they are not taken advantage of.

.. and what do you feel is most worthwhile?

Finding pragmatic, bespoke solutions in an age when some tend to commoditise, is key to me. The fact that details of some of my cases never enter the public domain is also very rewarding.

Would you tell us about your contribution to the new Advanced Certificate in Cross-Border Estates course?

I want to thank Richard Frimston TEP, STEP and CLTI for the opportunity. It was good fun. The course addresses civil, common and Sharia law succession systems and identifies where family law meets succession law. The aim was to try to identify the elephant traps and to explain difficult concepts simply, and I think we did the best job we could.

Are cross border matters more complex now?

The reality is that very personal and sensitive areas of practice, such as succession law, mental capacity and family law, rarely join up internationally. This has led to a creeping privatisation of private client solutions, leaving a two-tiered system – one for the rich and one for the poor.

Considering some do not appreciate the interactions between civil and common law or the cross-over with EU law and treaty planning, it makes it all more important for clients to take advice from those with the necessary skill set.

What would you say to a young person thinking of a career in this industry?

You need a real understanding of what makes your client – and their family – tick. Going to court is sometimes a necessary evil, but many cases don't settle early enough. Nearly all clients would prefer an agreement rather than to go to court.

Where do you see future growth, both in terms of sectors and jurisdictions?

The vast majority of family and succession law issues will continue to be resolved by the parties rather than by the courts. Where a practitioner is involved, that may well be to facilitate agreements. I see real potential for cross-border family agreements and an increased use of mediation for the internationally mobile, and I am quite excited to be able to use the skills that we have at Charles Russell Speechlys.

What do you feel are the main challenges facing practitioners at the moment, and how will you deal with them?

It is still unclear how the Brexit negotiations will play out over the next 24 months.

The task now is to track developments and the impact on other jurisdictions where clients reside, operate, or have property.

Which social media channels do you use and why?

I am not particularly active on social media, but the firm uses Linked In and Twitter (@CRS_Lawyers). Team members are encouraged to create and maintain their personal Linked In profiles and it is routinely used as a platform to promote the firm’s thought leadership research and marketing campaigns. We have seen consistent success on Twitter, receiving thousands of views per month and a steady increase in followers.

Dr Michael Wells-Greco TEP contributed to the Advanced Certificate in Cross-Border Estates course and is speaking at the EU Parliament Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) on the implications of Brexit on family law on 30 May.