60-second interview: Charles “Chuck” Lubar, senior counsel, McDermott Will & Emery
Chuck Lubar is one of the most senior US lawyers based in London, who advises a range of UHNW clients, notably in the recording and film industry. He famously acted for Michael Jackson in the acquisition of the Beatles music catalogue, as well as the production of the Muppet Show in London.
Any thoughts on Trump’s immigration ban? Does it affect your clients?
It is much too early to see what kind of constitutional immigration restrictions would affect our client base but a travel ban would result in a restriction of talent coming into the US. It’s the free movement of talent particularly into the research and technology sectors that has been a bedrock of the US economy over the last few years. Trump’s suggestion that legal immigration will be changed by reducing the numbers of those who can immigrate to the US, including highly educated and skilled individuals, could also impact US the tech sector.
How is the mood in the US?
There is a prevailing sense that non-western European foreigners are not so well welcome in the US which will in time affect foreign investment into the US from the Middle East, North Africa and Latin America. Even with the proposed reduction of taxes by Trump, it won’t make much difference because of anti-foreign sentiment in the electorate.
What are the main challenges for your clients?
Many of our clients are considering the consequences of staying in the UK because of the significant changes to the non-domiciled rules which feel like an attack on Londoners, evidenced in addition by the huge increase in stamp duty, land tax, and prospective business rate hikes. These measures have a cumulative effect as the UK Government is trying to balance the economy away from London and into the regions. It affects the non-domiciled US community moving to the UK or those continuing to live in the UK. We have had requests from several clients to look at other countries such as Monaco, Switzerland, Dubai, New York and Singapore, all of whom have been quick to woo disaffected UK non-doms.
What about your celebrity clients?
Most of my clients come to me with cross-border issues whether they are a performing artist from the US who came to perform in the UK, like singers or, on the other side of the scale, the Muppets Show. In this respect, celebrities are not different from the business world. One of my most interesting clients is a Moroccan who learned his craft in Sweden before going to the US. He now produces songs and records for senior artists in the music industry. A few decades ago achieving this would have been difficult but our internationalised world makes this easier and thus my work very exciting.
Tell me about an achievement you are most proud of?
Being able to integrate my practice across from my previous firm into McDermott Will & Emery at the age of 75. In the words of one client: ‘It’s about time you were venerated not tolerated’.
What trends do you see in the private wealth industry?
For our non-US client base, there is a clear trend towards the internationalisation of the private wealth industry, including the advisory services for large family offices. It is hard to find a major family outside the US that does not have any US related issues to address such as an American spouse, a child working in the US or inbound investments into the US.
What do you do to unwind?
I play the guitar and golf and tennis. I go to the gym once a week and also have a personal trainer once a week. I am still very active with the Royal Academy of Art and the Royal College of Music as well as several other UK based charities.
And anything else we should know?
I’m a voting member of BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts), a member of the National Philanthropic Trust UK and US, and a board member of UK Friends of Yale University.