Topics: Federal Councillor, Politics, Lawyer, Notary, University of Fribourg, Career, Advice
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We are pleased to welcome you for this interview. The entire Switzerland knows you as a Federal Councillor, but few are aware that you worked as an independent attorney and notary before. Could you please describe your educational path and tell us how you decided to become a Federal Councillor?
After completing my Type B Matura, I began my law studies at the University of Freiburg in 1982. After obtaining my licentiate in both laws in 1987, I pursued an internship at a law and notary office in Brig-Glis. In 1990, I obtained the notary diploma, and in 1991, I received the attorney's diploma from the Canton of Valais.
Subsequently, I worked as an independent attorney and notary in Brig-Glis from 1991 to 2018. I have always been deeply interested in politics. From 1992 to 2000, I served as a city councilor, followed by four years as the Vice President of the City of Brig-Glis. From 2000 to 2012, I held the position of city president. Starting in 2005 and until 2018, I represented the Canton of Valais as a National Councillor.
When Doris Leuthard announced her resignation, several people asked me if I would consider running. I carefully considered this step and eventually accepted. I enjoy initiating and implementing projects, making a difference, and making decisions. I was in the right place at the right time and brought a wealth of political experience with me.
As an attorney and also as a politician, it is important to listen, inquire, and work diligently. - Federal Councillor Viola Amherd
What skills and experiences from your legal career can you particularly leverage in your current role as a Federal Councillor?
The ability to analyze and think logically, as well as to express oneself clearly both verbally and in writing. As both an attorney and also as a politician, it is important to listen, inquire, and work diligently.
What I miss the most is the ability to plan my schedule freely! - Federal Councillor Viola Amherd
Did you know?
Until 2018, Ms. Amherd worked as an independent attorney and notary at the Advokatur act in Brig. Brig is widely recognized as the political center of Valais.
What does a typical working day for a Federal Councillor look like, and what aspects from your time as an attorney and notary do you possibly miss?
The day usually starts around 7 AM with meetings with staff, organizations, and commission sessions. Often, there are also appearances at events planned. In the evening, there's the task of studying documents or preparing for upcoming meetings.
What I miss the most is the ability to plan my schedule freely!
I don't look back, I look forward! - Federal Councillor Viola Amherd
Did you know?
It is not uncommon for Federal Councillors to have a legal background. Doris Leuthard, whose position Mrs. Amherd succeeded, was also an attorney. Other former female Federal Councillors who studied law include Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, Ruth Metzler, and the first female Federal Councillor, Elisabeth Kopp.
When you look back on your career path, which decisions would you make the same, and which ones might you make differently?
I don't look back, I look forward! As Edith Piaf said: Je ne regrette rien.
Did you know?
Viola Amherd is the first woman at the helm of the Swiss Ministry of Defense. In the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, the Valais native led the most extensive mobilization of the Swiss Army since World War II.
Finally, what advice would you like to give to lawyers who aspire to a career in politics?
I believe it's important to get involved, for example, in associations and organizations or even in a political party.
This also means allowing oneself to be elected to a board, participating in committees, and making oneself available for a political mandate.
Thank you very much for the extremely interesting insights into your political and legal career. We wish you all the best going forward!
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