In the 1980s, the practice of securities law was essentially a local activity. A company that wanted to conduct a private placement or initial public offering ("IPO") would negotiate a contract with a broker-dealer that was willing to act as the company's selling agent or underwriter, and then hire a local law firm to prepare a private placement memorandum or SEC registration statement.
The local character of the securities practice started to change in the late 1980s when advances in data processing and communications made it possible for lawyers in one city to represent clients in another. Our first experience with this phenomenon was in 1986, when we were based in Houston and agreed to represent a series of public venture capital partnerships that were based in San Francisco.
Since the mid-1990s, the scope of the securities law practice has changed dramatically. The large law firms have expanded their reach into the global market by opening branch offices in key domestic and international cities. Our approach has been create a base iin the center of Europe within easy driving distance of several global financial centersd so that we can effectively deal with clients in Europe, North America and Asia during normal business hours.
In 1997, we were based in Houston and working for a client in New Jersey that was preparing to open a manufacturing plant in Switzerland. In connection with that engagement we spent a great deal of time in Canton Fribourg, and developed a close relationship with the Fribourg Development Agency.
In 1998, we had an opportunity to buy a portion of a lakeside castle and decided to move our practice to Switzerland and establish a practice with a global focus. The decision was fraught with uncertainty because we were not sure that a small firm that focused on small company finance would be able to compete with the large law firms that are active in the global market. Now, ten years later, we represent clients in Europe, North America and Asia, which probably makes us one of the smallest international law firms in the world.
As lawyers, we operate differently from most firms, not solely for the sake of being different but to provide exceptional service and value to our clients.