Schiff Hardin Expands Estate Planning Practice With Former UBS Wealth Strategist

This post was originally published on link to post

Stephen Liss, a partner with Schiff Hardin. Courtesy photo.

Schiff Hardin is growing its estate planning practice, adding three attorneys in New York and Chicago, including Stephen Liss, a former UBS strategist who advised high-net-worth families.

Liss joined Schiff Hardin’s New York office as a partner in its private clients, trust and estates practice group. The firm also announced Wednesday that Lisa Lukaszewski joined the firm’s practice as counsel from Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg while Anna Luna joined as an associate from Ernst & Young. Both will be based in Chicago.

The trio’s move comes as Schiff Hardin’s revenue has dipped in recent years, according to ALM data. The firm said earlier this year that it was leaning into its trusts and estates practice, as well as other practices that other firms are overlooking.

Liss previously worked as a senior wealth strategist at UBS Financial Services and Barclays. Before that, he was a partner at Withers Bergman.

Schiff Hardin said that during his time in financial services, Liss helped domestic and international high-net-worth clients on income and estate tax planning matters, planned charitable giving and sophisticated life insurance structures.

Liss said that experience will help him as he transitions back into private practice and that he plans to use relationships he’s cultivated through his years in financial services to grow his practice.

“It will be nice to be able to see a project from inception to completion,” he said in an interview, explaining that while at UBS and Barclays, he was a subject-matter expert who taught clients about what options were available to them, but did not work with them from start to finish. Now, he hopes to bring his two expertise areas of law and financial planning together at Schiff Hardin.

“I’m excited to use my experience to integrate legal and financial planning and explore how a financial planner can help a client,” he said.

His decision to join Schiff Hardin was also influenced by relationships he already had with attorneys there.

“I had worked with their lawyers before, and I had a really good sense of who did quality work based on what they actually produced, compared to who [in the legal industry] just talked about doing good work,” he said, noting that a number of Schiff Hardin partners were certified by the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.

“This has been an important department for [the firm] for a long time,” he said about Schiff Hardin’s  private clients, trust and estates practice group. “They have a really supportive culture. They’re just good, decent people, and I knew that coming in.”

In a statement, Thomas Abendroth, leader of the firm’s private clients, trusts and estates practice, complimented Liss’ combined experience in private practice and working directly with clients and advisers while at UBS. He said Liss has a “strong background with counseling private clients and handling complex tax work from his years in private practice.”