Category Archives: News

Michael Reiss von Filski elected Chairman of AILFN’s Board of Directors


Michael Reiss von Filski, Global CEO of GGI, was elected Chairman of AILFN’s Board of Directors at their recent London meeting. The board additionally elected Stephen McGarry to the position of AILFN President. Steve founded and previously served as President of Lex Mundi and World Services Group (WSG), the world’s two largest law firm networks. The Board of Directors also elected Adam Cooke, Executive Director of Multilaw, to the position of Chair; Tim Wilson, Chief Executive of MSI Global Alliance, to the position of Treasurer; Lindsay Griffiths, Director of Global Relationship Management at International Lawyers Network to the position of Secretary; and Wendy Horn, Executive Director of The International Alliance of Law Firms, was elected to the board.

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GGI: founding member of AILFN


AILFN (the Association of International Law Firm Networks) is a new organisation that represents the common interests of global and regional law firm networks. AILFN has four purposes: (1) enhance the position and recognition of all networks in the legal market; (2) establish common principles to maintain standard of quality; (3) provide a forum for networks to exchange information; and (4) negotiate agreements with vendors that can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of networks.

AILFN was launched in October 2015, ahead of the IBA International Bar Association congress in Vienna.

Stephen McGarry, founder of Lex Mundi, World Service Group WSG and, has established the new voice of the profession, together with some of the world’s leading law firm networks.

Today, the media is fixated on three models for global legal businesses: big law firms, Swiss Vereins and the Big Four. Structurally, each of these models is inherently ineffective and inefficient for global legal practice. The most efficient and effective model is a law firm network composed of independent firms. Unfortunately, these are not yet recognised as the best strategic option in the global market, undermining both their credibility among their members and their value to clients.

This is because of a lack of awareness of the following:

  • Stand-alone firms can provide the most cost-effective service as each is managed independently within its respective market.
  • The 60 largest law firm networks have been established for average time of 20 years. This provides an extraordinarily stable group of firms who have strong relationships with each other.
  • Network members have global and local coverage while the other models are limited to large cities. Members of the largest 50 networks employ almost 300,000 lawyers within 7,000 independent law firms.
  • The networks are the only organisations to cover virtually all the world’s commercial centres. The largest networks have members with more than 600 offices. Only a handful of law firms have more than 50 offices.
  • Regional networks provide in depth resources in their respective national and local markets.

The issue is that no individual network can change the perception that law firm networks are an unimportant part of the global legal sector. This is because more than 95% of network’s activities are focused internally on members building relationships to benefit clients, as opposed to law firms and the Big Four where 95% of marketing is focused on external brand recognition.

The AILFN can change this misconception by focusing on marketing the general benefits of networks to the legal profession as well as to potential clients seeking the most cost-effective and efficient representation.


GGI add firms in England, Dominican Republic and The United States


CVR Global – London, England

CVR Global is the newest GGI member based in London, England. They are an insolvency practice with a proven track record in advising stakeholders in businesses facing distress, ranging from owner-managed businesses, listed companies and not-for-profit organisations, in the full range of sectors.

Covering the whole insolvency spectrum – from discreet rescues of ailing businesses to formal insolvency appointments – CVR brings a fresh, innovative approach to helping troubled businesses and individuals. Known for their commitment to building strong relationships, they are large enough to supply the full spectrum of services yet small enough to ensure they deliver personalised advice.

CVR Global is staffed by 60 professionals mentored by seven partners in 6 offices in the UK. They have additional offices in the British Virgin Islands, Jersey, Anguilla and Gibraltar.

Mr John Greenwood

Mr John Greenwood
London, England
T: +44 20 3794 8750


Guzmán Ariza, Attorneys at Law – Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Guzmán Ariza is a national law and business consulting firm – the first and the largest in the Dominican Republic. Founded in 1927, their seven offices are strategically located to serve their clients in every major business and tourism centre in the Dominican Republic: the Santo Domingo metropolitan area, including Juan Dolio and Boca Chica; the northern part of the island, Sosúa-Puerto Plata, Cabarete, Cabrera, Las Terrenas, Samaná and the southeast – Punta Cana, Bávaro, Miches, Macao and La Romana, including Casa de Campo and Bayahíbe.

Guzmán Ariza is client-focused and full-service firm, their multilingual attorneys and business consultants are equipped to help their clients, across a wide variety of practice areas, including but not limited to corporate and business, mergers and acquisitions, project finance, banking, insurance and securities, taxation, intellectual property, litigation, real estate and condominiums, environment, criminal law, immigration, family law and individual legal services.

With a staff of more than 130 managed by 10 partners they provide services to their clients in Spanish, English, French, German, Italian, Russian and Portuguese.

Fabio J. Guzmán Ariza

Fabio J. Guzmán Ariza

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
T:  +1 8092550980
F:  +1 8092550940


Wegner CPAs, LLP – Wisconsin, United States

Founded in 1949 in Madison, Wisconsin, Wegner CPAs has been providing sound, professional services in accounting, auditing, tax, financial and management consulting for over 60 years. Robert E. Wegner founded the firm on personal relationships and putting client needs above all. Today, the firm’s 3rd generation owners still believe in and carry out this philosophy.

Wegner CPAs has grown steadily throughout its 65-year history providing services such as accounting systems consulting, bookkeeping, compliance audits, employee benefit plan audits, business planning, valuations, litigation support, forensic accounting, assistance with criminal tax defense, mergers & acquisitions, real estate transactions & planning, and tax planning & compliance.

This has allowed them to develop the business over a course of six decades.  In addition to their main office in Madison, they have offices in Milwaukee, Baraboo, Pewaukee, Janesville, New York, and Washington, DC.

With a multi-lingual, multi-discipline staff of 115 supervised by 11 partners, Wegner CPAs serves their national and international clients in numerous languages including English, Spanish, Turkish, Mandarin, Chinese, Russian, Hindi, German, and French.

Peter M. Oettinger

Peter M. Oettinger

Wisconsin, United States
T: +1 888 204 7665
F: +1 608 274 0775

Michael A. Bondi Joins GGI member firm Moss & Barnett

Michael A. Bondi

GGI member law firm Moss & Barnett, A Professional Association, is pleased to announce that Michael A. Bondi has joined the firm’s intellectual property team. Bondi focuses his practice on the preparation and prosecution of U.S. and foreign patent and trademark applications. He enjoys the variety of working with both large companies who have complex multi-national trademark and patent portfolios, as well as smaller companies and individuals who are selecting their first trademark or filing their first patent application. Bondi received his J.D. from John Marshall Law School and his B.S. from the University of Illinois at Champaign‑Urbana.

“Michael is a major player in the patent, trademark, and copyright space, and we are excited to have him join us with his substantial portfolio of clients and their intellectual property – his addition to our team complements and greatly enhances our existing work in the knowledge economy,” said Moss & Barnett President and CEO, Tom Shroyer.


GGI member firm

Moss & Barnett

Law Firm

Minneapolis, MN, USA

Michael A. Bondi




Guinness World Records recognises Thomson Snell & Passmore as the oldest law firm

Guinness World RecordsGGI member law firm Thomson Snell & Passmore LLP – now in its 445th year – is celebrating being recognised as the oldest law firm in operation by the Guinness World Records (GWR). The honour will be recorded in the Guinness World Records 2017.

Thomson Snell & Passmore was established in 1570. Since its humble beginnings, the firm and its lawyers have adapted and evolved through the agricultural, industrial and digital revolutions. The firm’s longevity is a tribute to its steadfast and deep commitment to working both for its clients’ best interests and that of the local community. Over 400 years later, a modern law firm has emerged.

As the firm approaches its 450th anniversary in 2020, its growth strategy is focused on maintaining its position as a pre-eminent law firm in the South East. This new World Record accolade supports the firm’s reputation as “Legal advisers of choice to generations of families and businesses”.

Celebrating its 60th year, Guinness World Records is the only authority that records and recognises record-breaking achievements around the world. Record holders, deemed “Officially Amazing”, have their achievements published annually in the Book of World Records.

Simon Slater, CEO of Thomson Snell & Passmore, said of the achievement:

“It is tremendous to be named an official Guinness World Record holder. This is an acknowledgement of the firm’s unique longevity and a testament to our resilience as a law firm. This recognition underpins our promise to our clients that we will always be here to provide legal support. Looking to the future, it also strengthens our resolve to be the legal advisers of choice to successive generations of families and businesses, with whom we have built long-term relationships in the region.”

James Partridge, Senior Partner at Thomson Snell & Passmore, said:

“This is wonderful recognition of the firm’s achievements so far. We are at an exciting place in our history, and as the firm looks ahead – with its extensive experience and heritage – we will continue to grow by prioritising the needs of our clients and adapting our approach to the changing legal landscape.”


GGI member firm

Thomson Snell & Passmore LLP

Law Firm

Tunbridge Wells, Dartford, UK

James Partridge




David Neste joins GGI Executive Committee

David R NesteDavid R. Neste CPA, MBA, CGMA, Co-Managing Partner of GGI member firm Prager Metis, has joined the GGI Executive Committee, effective January 2016, after being unanimously elected by the Executive Committee.

He succeeds Rick Mastrocola, who was a dynamic and dedicated member of the GGI Executive Committee for a number of years.

Neste is a Partner in the Audit and Accounting Department of Prager Metis CPAs, LLC, a member of Prager Metis International Group. He has been an accounting professional since 1975 and also serves as Co-Managing Partner of the firm.

In this capacity, he provides leadership and strategic planning to more than 40 partners and principals and 200 staff members working at the seven Prager Metis office locations. He acts as a key advisor to his clients, often going above and beyond to ensure their success. Specialising in accounting and tax matters for privately held businesses, his primary areas of practice include business planning and consulting services, accounting, tax issues as well as audit and attest engagements.

Neste started his career at a Big Four firm before opening his own practice. In his spare time he likes to travel and play golf and enjoys music and spending time with his family.


GGI member firm

Prager Metis CPAs, LLC

Auditing & Accounting, Tax, Advisory, Corporate Finance, Fiduciary & Estate Planning

New York, NY, Basking Ridge, NJ, Long Island, NY, Los Angeles, CA, White Plains, NY, USA

David R. Neste




GGI add firms in Canada and The United States of America.

News Flash

Stein Monast L.L.P. – Québec QC, Canada

Stein Monast L.L.P. is an independent law firm, with over 60 years of professional history. The firm was originally founded in 1957, with the current partnership dating from 2007. Based in Quebec City, Stein Monast L.L.P.’s lawyers offer a vast portfolio of legal services and legal experience in cases involving almost every field of economic activity, its lawyers acting for clients in a wide range of business matters, including mergers and acquisitions, and representing clients before judicial and administrative authorities at every level.

Stein Monast L.L.P.’s lawyers constantly work at developing and implementing an efficient and economical approach that takes into consideration the business objectives of its clients, remaining also aware of the importance of controlling costs and finding solutions that are both pragmatic and adapted to the specific problems of every case and client.

Stein Monast L.L.P.’s clients can depend on a multidisciplinary multilingual staff of over 100, with the ability to make representations in both French and English.

5823fd03-283f-408d-a4de-7b9dcc70c532Charles G. Gagnon

Québec QC, Canada
T: +1 418 529 6531
F: +1 418 523 5391



Moss & Barnett  – Minnesota, MN, USA

Established at the start of the 20th century in Minnesota, Moss & Barnett have been succeeding in business for over 120 years. Over the last century they have developed national practices in corporate law, commercial real estate finance, creditors’ remedies, regulated industries, accountant law, construction, communications, IP and technology.

Moss & Barnett have helped protect the intellectual property rights of entrepreneurs across the world. By providing forward-thinking and team-based custom counsel that keeps clients in business, financial, technology, and professional services competitive in the digitally driven marketplace.

Moss & Barnett have a professional staff of over 110, supervised by 39 partners and a primary operating language of English.


Brian Grogan

Minneapolis, MN, USA
T: +1 612 877 5281
F: +1 612 877 5999



Barbich Hooper King Dill Hoffman – Bakersfield, CA, USA

Headquartered in Bakersfield, California, Barbich Hooper King Dill Hoffman is a full service accountancy firm.  For more than 30 years, BHK has been providing quality services to their clients.

Barbich Hooper King Dill Hoffman provides quality services to individuals and businesses, both domestically and internationally, including attestation, review and compilation services, business consulting, client accounting and bookkeeping, controllership services, employee benefit plan audits, estate and trust planning, litigation support, and tax planning and compliance.

Barbich Hooper King Dill Hoffman have a committed and professional team of 44, managed by 5 partners and the main office languages of the company are English and Spanish.


Ronald O. Dill

Bakersfield, CA, USA
T: +1 661 332 6862

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Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well

Thanks for the Feedback

We swim in an ocean of feedback. Bosses, colleagues, customers – butalso family, friends, and in-laws – they all have “suggestions” for our performance,parenting, or appearance. We know that feedback is essential for healthy relationships and professional development – but we dread it and often dismiss it.

That’s because receiving feedback sits at the junction of two conflicting human desires. We do want to learn and grow. And we also want to be accepted just as we are right now. Thanks for the Feedback is the first book to address this tension head on. It explains why getting feedback is so crucial yet so challenging, and offers a powerful framework to help us take on life’s blizzard of off-hand comments, annual evaluations, and unsolicitedadvice with curiosity and grace.

The business world spends billions of dollars and millions of hours each year teaching people how to give feedback more effectively. Stone and Heen argue that we’ve got it backwards and show us why the smart money is on educating receivers – in the workplace and in personal relationships as well.

Coauthors of the international bestseller Difficult Conversations, Stone and Heen have spent the last ten years working with businesses, nonprofits, governments, and families to determine what helps us learn and what gets in our way. With humor and clarity, they blend the latest insights from neuroscience and psychology with practical, hard-headed advice. The book is destined to become a classic in the world of leadership, organizational behavior, and education.

Thanks for the Feedback:
The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well
by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen
Hardcover: 368 pages
ISBN-10: 0670014664

The New UK Succession Rules – A Brief Overview

UK Succession

By David J Kidd


When a person dies “intestate”, that is without leaving a valid will disposing of the whole of his property, the distribution of his estate is governed in the UK by special legal rules. These intestacy rules typically prescribe that the estate passes to certain surviving family members or relatives in prescribed proportions and a prescribed manner, whether absolutely or in trust. The rules take effect automatically without the intervention of a Court application.

Studies have shown that in the UK up to two-thirds of people die without leaving a will, and thus are brought within the scope of these rules.

Applicants for financial provision

It does not follow, however, that making a will in the UK means that the estate necessarily passes entirely in line with the deceased’s will. There is no complete testamentary freedom in the UK. Since 1975 certain family members and dependants may apply to Court for reasonable financial provision from the estate. If successful, this results to a greater or lesser extent in the will being overridden. The persons who may make these applications are:

The husband or wife or former (not remarried) husband or wife; a person who lived in the same household with the deceased as man and wife; a child, or stepchild, provided in the latter case the deceased was married; and, most importantly, any person who was maintained wholly or partly by the deceased.

Such claimants must apply to the Court. Though bound to have regard to certain facts, it has discretion as to how much, if any, “reasonable provision” will be made. Naturally this uncertainty in the place of clear rules encourages disputes over deceased’s estates.

Example: The wife of a man, both with previous dissolved marriages, left her entire £2.3m estate, including a family home in London, to her two sons from a previous marriage. Her surviving husband received no other benefit from her will than to live rent-free in the family home. Application to the Court resulted after three years dispute in the husband receiving £375,000 in cash as well as reasonable provision for his daughter from a previous marriage. The stepsons shared £235,000 and any property bought with the proceeds of the London family home when the husband dies.

Law Commission and statutory changes

The UK’s Law Commission, a body established to review areas of law and make recommendations for amendments, recently made proposals in these two areas, part of which were enacted in late 2014. This was in the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014.

Intestacy changes

  • Spouse entitlement where deceased leaves no issue

Where a married person dies leaving no children, his entire estate will now pass to the surviving spouse. The prior position was that the surviving spouse received personal chattels, a statutory legacy, and one half of residue absolutely. The remaining half-share of the estate passed to the surviving parents or brothers or sisters or their children.

Thus the most significant change is that neither parents nor siblings nor the latter’s children will have any entitlement; they have been disinherited on intestacy in favour of the surviving spouse.

  • Spouse entitlement where deceased leaves issue

Where children are left, personal chattels, a statutory legacy, and one-half of residue will go absolutely to the surviving spouse. The other half of residue will be held on trust for the children. The former position was that the surviving spouse had no more than a life interest in one-half of the residue, so that the capital was in principle preserved ultimately for the children on her death.

The change represents a further move in favour of the surviving spouse, whilst affecting adversely children’s long-term entitlement to capital.

  • Trustees’ powers changes

As part of its review of intestacy, the Law Commission had to consider trustees’ powers. Where a settlor is living, the extent of trust powers is largely a matter of choice, but a person who dies intestate never considers the position. It is currently governed by Trustee Act 1925, dealing with powers to apply income, and advance capital. The provisions are, however, widely regarded as technical and restrictive, and rather than restrict the changes to intestacies, they have been generally changed, so that the wider new versions in relation to powers of maintenance or advancement apply to any intestacy, will or trust created after 1st October 2014.

Changes concerning Court applications by dependants for financial provision

One of the categories of persons who can apply to the Court to make a claim against a deceased’s estate is a person who was wholly or partly maintained by the deceased, “dependants” for short. An existing hurdle on such applicants succeeding was removed.

The Courts had held such dependency could not be demonstrated in cases where the parties benefited each other, such as by contributing roughly equally to a household budget. There needed to be a net benefit to the person claiming to be dependant, which was often difficult to show. This restriction was removed. Only commercial arrangements are now excluded from qualifying, e.g. an employed live-in nurse.

Stepchildren where stepparents not married or are single parents

Another category of applicant was a stepchild, but only if the stepparents were married. This restriction was removed and now any child may apply provided the deceased stood in the role of a parent, even if there was no marriage, and even if the deceased was the only person apart from the child i.e. single parent.

Extension of powers of Court to vary deceased’s trust

There is added a power to the Court to make an order varying for the applicant’s benefit the trusts on which the deceased’s estate is held (whether under a will or on intestacy).

Matters not enacted

  • Jurisdiction change from UK domicile to habitually resident

The Commission recommended that the Courts have jurisdiction in financial provision cases whenever the applicant was habitually resident in the UK. Currently the Court only has jurisdiction if the deceased was domiciled in England and Wales. ‘Domicile’ essentially means that a person of foreign origin can remain domiciled overseas, and thus not subject to jurisdiction, whilst remaining for long periods of residence in the UK. In one case a Cypriot had been in the UK for forty-three years and lived with the applicant for ten years, but as the applicant could not show that the deceased Cypriot had become domiciled in England and Wales, her claim against his estate could not proceed. The Commission’s recommended change to use the applicant’s “habitual residence” in the UK was not enacted.

  • Cohabitation and intestacy

The Commission recommended that intestacy rules be extended to cohabitants, but the matter has not been taken forward by the government. However, a privately sponsored Bill was introduced to this effect in Parliament in 2014, but has made no further progress towards enactment.


Citroen Wells

Auditing & Accounting, Tax, Advisory, Corporate Finance, Fiduciary & Estate Planning

London, United Kingdom

David J Kidd


25-28 February 2016: GGI ITPG winter meeting High level tax meeting in Barcelona


By Oliver Biernat and Carlos Frühbeck

All tax experts at GGI member firms are cordially invited by the GGI International Taxation Practice Group to its famed winter meeting. Back in spring 2015, senior members at ITPG voted in a poll to decide the venue for 2016: Barcelona was the winner and Carlos Frühbeck from Ficesa Treuhand, S.A.P will be your host.

Barcelona is one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations, offering an outstanding mix of culture, gastronomy and shopping. No matter which district or neighbourhood of Barcelona you may find yourself in, there is always something of interest to see and experience. For example, a vast array of architectural jewels: Gaudi features prominently and the modernist movement is stamped across the city. Food markets and relics dating back to Roman and medieval times are also popular with tourists. Barcelona is located on the Mediterranean coast and enjoys a mild winter climate. The average temperature in February is between a low of 6 ºC and a high of 14 ºC. Barcelona has an international airport with direct connections to most European capitals in addition to many destinations in North America and the Middle East.

Delegates and their guests can also enjoy the gastronomical and cultural delights Barcelona has to offer should they wish to extend their stay. For example, there are several walking tours dedicated to subjects including Roman and medieval history, the artistic movement of Modernism as well as specific Gaudi or Picasso routes. There are also places of interest in the vicinity of Barcelona, such as the Benedictine Abbey located atop the mountain of Montserrat, the historic city of Girona and the Dalí Theatre and Museum in Figueres.

The Gallery Hotel has been chosen to host the conference. It is a boutique hotel located in the heart of Barcelona, a three minute walk away from La Pedrera and the most exclusive shops of Passeig de Gràcia. The hotel offers comfortable and recently renovated meeting rooms perfectly suited to our conference needs. The hotel is located only 20 minutes from the airport by taxi.

On Thursday evening all delegates and their guests are invited to a welcome reception in the lobby of the hotel, followed by a walk to “Miguelitos” restaurant where we will enjoy traditional Spanish tapas and good wine.

The technical agenda starts on Friday morning at 9 a.m. with an overview of current ITPG projects in the various regions and a discussion on potential future projects. As requested by the majority of senior members, the rest of the morning session will again be spent discussing an international tax case, this time presented and moderated by Ashish Bairagra from India. Ashish will run a problem solving session focusing on a mix of transfer pricing and cross-border income and inheritance tax issues. Several groups will work on various problems and be tasked with finding different solutions. When the groups present their work, the aim is ultimately for all participants to have learned something new about tax issues in many different countries.

After the lunch break, further tax related PG meetings such as “Immigration & Expatriate Services”, chaired by Huub Kapel and “Indirect Taxes”, chaired by Steve McCrindle and Toon Hasselman, should be of interest to delegates. The PG meetings will take place consecutively in the conference room with each scheduled to last one hour.

In the evening, delegates will have a little time to relax before a 25 minute stroll to “Els Quatre Gats” (The Four Cats), a restaurant which was at the heart of the modernist movement of Barcelona and a favourite haunt of Picasso. The restaurant serves traditional Mediterranean fare with live music in the background. After dinner, delegates are free to walk back to the hotel or enjoy the nightlife in one of the many bars in Barri Gòtic (the Gothic Quarter). A taxi back to the hotel will cost around EUR 10.

On Saturday morning, various speakers will deal with recent national tax issues which involve cross-border effects in the framework of a general discussion on international tax topics. And of course, Oliver will show funny YouTube films as per usual for a little light relief between presentations.

Later in the morning we will focus on marketing aspects for tax experts. Marketing professional Paul Atkinson from Lawrence Grant, Chartered Accountants, has been invited to talk about online marketing. His talk will cover several areas including: increasing website traffic, SEO vs SEA, company logos and social media. Paul is also happy to offer one-to-one sessions after the presentation if you would like to receive general feedback on your website or help setting up a social media page. If this is of interest, you may of course bring along your own marketing experts to learn some tips and tricks first hand or exchange ideas with other experts.

After lunch, a two hour guided sightseeing walking tour of Barcelona is available to all delegates. We would recommend bringing appropriate, comfortable footwear for the tour. After enjoying a little free time, we will meet for dinner at the restaurant “El Tragaluz”, where the conference will be brought to a close in good company and with delicious food and drink. For those wishing to make a night of it, Carlos can recommend a few places to extend the evening’s festivities after dinner.

Barcelona 2

On Sunday, there is the option of going on an excursion by bus to the Bodega Alella winery, which will include food and wine tasting for those delegates who wish to make the most of the final day in Spain and catch an evening flight home. The winery is located just 20 km from Barcelona.

The last few ITPG winter meetings have combined high quality tax work with opportunities for fun, and there is no reason to think that Barcelona won‘t live up to previous years’ standards, with its Mediterranean climate, not to mention excellent flight connections and convenient journey time from the airport.


Benefitax GmbH, Steuerberatungsgesellschaft, Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft

Auditing & Accounting, Tax, Advisory, Corporate Finance, Fiduciary & Estate Planning

Frankfurt/Main, Germany

Oliver Biernat




Ficesa Treuhand, S.A.P. Auditores y Asesores Fiscales

Auditing & Accounting, Tax, Advisory, Fiduciary & Estate Planning

Barcelona, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Madrid, Marbella, Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Carlos Frühbeck Olmedo



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