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UK firm Davies Arnold Cooper has expanded its Madrid operation by integrating its long-time Spanish associate firm, Estudio Juridico Muniz (EJM), under the DAC name.
The new firm will have 16 lawyers, two thirds of whom will be ex-EJM. It will be headed by Pablo Wesolowski, a Spanish-qualified DAC partner. The restructured branch will mark its growth by moving to new offices in Madrid.
Wesolowski described the Spanish branch as generalist but with a focus on the international insurance and reinsurance market.
"Davies Arnold Cooper has shared an office and marketed jointly with EJM since it arrived in Spain seven years ago," he said. "However, due to DAC's London insurance connections, most notably Lloyd's, all the solicitors in the office found themselves devoting themselves more to insurance work."
He added that DAC had, in return, reaped the benefits of a Spanish partner.
"In Spain, as with everywhere else, it helps to be established with local partners. EJM was an extremely prestigious local firm which has helped build up DAC's name in Spain," said Wesolowski.
"The integration will allow us to work jointly under one name now that the name is established."
He explained that the office was staffed purely by Spanish qualified lawyers, which cut out the need for a partner from England. "We are in permanent contact with London and Kenneth Mckenzie [London contact partner for DAC] is here once a month. Our telecommunications and IT capability allows British and Spanish lawyers to access and work on the same files."
Wesolowski also said that by Spanish standards the firm had grown quickly from two to 16 lawyers in seven years. "There is only one firm which is big in Spain and that is the recently formed Garrigues Andersen, but that is a strange firm merging a traditional Spanish firm with an accountancy firm's tax law practice. And it doesn't worry us because we are bigger in the insurance market."
Mckenzie said: "The Spanish market is an important one for us. We saw that there were increasing opportunities to develop the business there, but realised we needed to establish a stronger foothold - it was therefore an obvious step to integrate EJM into DAC."
Laurence Messer, DAC managing partner, described the move as client led.
He added that the branch would focus on insurance work, which is expected to grow in Spain, as well as help serve the UK-based clients with Spanish interests.