Interview: Dr. Petra Arends-Paltzer, Switzerland

CLP has been accompanying colleagues from very different areas of the legal industry on their professional path to success for years. This third series of interviews will focus on the many ways in which lawyers from all over Europe are involved in and alongside their profession. And, of course, we have also asked you again about your very personal secret of success!

The CLP - interview series goes into the third round: After the expert round as well as the Legal Coaches it concerns now primarily special commitment in and beside the lawyer occupation. Some of them have already been honored for this commitment with prizes; in any case, all colleagues in this circle are very successful in what they do. This may be due to the rousing passion with which they are committed to their cause. Or their personal recipe for success, which they reveal to us in the end. 

Dr. Arends-Paltzer, may I ask you to briefly introduce yourself?

After my 2nd state examination, I worked in the legal department of various banks and wrote a dissertation on copyright law while working part-time. Soon I changed sides and then worked as a banker and project manager for large international banks. Among others in Zurich, New York, London, Sydney, Melbourne, Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

After years of banking, I reoriented myself 5 years ago and co-founded the Swiss Legal Technology Conference and Hackathon, among others, and wrote a book on digital transformation in the legal market. I have also founded Rechtdigital and a think tank around the topics Smart Cities/Villages, the Davos Digital Forum.

I have lived in Switzerland since 2000, first in Basel and Zurich since 2017 in Klosters/Davos and am married to a wonderful man. From my desk in winter I can see the cross-country ski run that passes directly in front of our house. I am an enthusiastic hobby chef, among others Meera Sodha and Yotam Ottolenghi Fan. In winter I go to the slopes, in summer to the golf course and at least every 2nd day to the yoga mat - I love the Down Dog App.

For years I have been working as a mentor and support young people in their start into the professional world. I took part in three big #VersusVirus-Hackthons (Germany, Switzerland and EU) as a mentor and jury member during the lockdown and I still supervise some of the resulting projects until today.

#1 What does the Davos Digital Forum mean to you?

The Davos Digital Forum, which I founded in 2018, is a think tank that covers far more classical legal topics. The aim is to make the topics of the digitization focus Smart Cities/Smart Villages understandable for everyone by means of real "hands-on" workshops. Thus, solutions to problems will be shown, which will give suggestions for implementation.

This year the first Online Edition took place and we will pick up current topics in 3 parallel live streams. Topics that appeal to both beginners and professionals. Live Stream 3 is in English and we are proud to have international partners such as Google, UBS, e-Estonia and the Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society on board in addition to Swiss partners such as the Association of Cities and Municipalities, the Post Office and the EWZ.

This year we also offered free participation for individuals and are already working on further (monthly) editions of the forum. We have also integrated an Academic Track with 15 universities into the Forum this year. This gives us direct access to research and teaching and allows us to integrate them into our projects and ideas.

#2 When did you first get involved in this and why?

I started with Legal Tech and the Swiss Legal Technology Conference, but soon realized that the focus on legal topics was (for me) too small. So I came across the topics of digitalization around Smart Cities as early as 2017/2018. These include mobility, logistics, education + work, participation + communication, health, smart grids + energy. In my view, these are much more comprehensive and exciting topics than just Legal or Legal Tech. Law is always involved, keyword "embedded law", but plays a subordinate role. In my view, this is the right positioning - in other words, getting actively involved in projects to jointly advance digitization.

#3 How do you choose your topics?

I follow the overall topic throughout the year and also regularly exchange ideas with our partners, such as e-Estiona, the Academic Track or Google Developers. In order to spot real "hot topics" I spend a few months in London every year, where I attend numerous relevant events.

In March, we actually had the program for the (analog) Davos Digital Forum ready - which we then completely rewrote. The pandemic and the lockdown have shown that suddenly other topics are taking center stage. These include, for example, the topics around Participation + Communication. We try to be as up-to-date as possible on the topics and group them in such a way that both beginners and professionals can participate.

#4 Who is your audience?

Our audience are digital pioneers in cities and communities as well as the supplying companies.

#5 What do you see as the added value for lawyers in addition to their demanding profession?

When you deal with topics that go beyond classical law, you expand your background and suddenly see more light at the end of the tunnel. As a result, we can only achieve new challenging goals if we pull together with different people and professions.

#6 Who supports you in this process or with whom do you prefer to work together?

I work together with my business partner, who covers exactly what I can't do or can do less well and vice versa. I have received support from my husband from day one - and that is perhaps the most important thing.

#7 Your personal tip for success:

Stay on the ball, even if success does not come immediately - and very important, support from your immediate environment.

Thank you very much. 

Look forward to further extraordinary personalities and be inspired! 

You can find more interviews here.

More from Dr. Arends-Paltzer here: 


Davos Digital Forum



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