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US firm builds nest for lawyers stationed in Spanish capital; plans to boost Latin American practice
Davis Polk & Wardwell has opened in Madrid. The firm, which is known for advising on US listings of major Spanish corporations, has sent one partner, Andres Gil, to work permanently in the Spanish capital. Gil is the head of Davis Polk's Latin American and Spanish practice group. Davis Polk managing partner John Ettinger told The Lawyer that Gil has two or three associates working with him permanently in Madrid. The team will focus on corporate work for major Spanish companies and banks. It already has a strong Spanish and Latin American practice, counting Banco Santander and Telefónica among its clients. According to Ettinger, the firm has opened in Madrid to provide permanent space for lawyers already working in the Spanish capital. "We have a group of lawyers permanently in Spain, so it made sense to get permanent space for them and the other lawyers who work there so much," said Ettinger. Davis Polk also plans to use the Madrid office to boost its Latin American practice. "Our Spanish and Latin American practice is growing, and the way we think of it is that there's an overlap between Latin America and Spain," said Ettinger. "We do more mergers and acquisitions in Latin America than any other American firm." Davis Polk, which has a best friends relationship with Slaughter and May, has so far chosen not to publicise the new development. At the time of going to press, there was no mention of the new office on Davis Polk's website. Consequently, there is some confusion in the Spanish market as to the size, scale and purpose of Davis Polk's new Madrid operation. Ettinger, though, insists that his firm has not been clandestine in neglecting to announce the new office. He said: "There's no mystery to this, it's simply the way we do things. There's no confusion among our clients about our operation in Madrid." One source close to the firm speculated that Davis Polk may be testing the water before it fully commits to the Spanish capital, and Ettinger certainly has no immediate plans to expand the Madrid office. "We have no current intention to hire more lawyers," said Ettinger. As with its other international offices, the firm will only practise US law in Madrid. Ettinger said that any Spanish legal advice his Madrid team needs will probably be referred to Uría & Menéndez. He stated: "We will not take on any local lawyers. In working with Uría, we're providing our clients with access to the best-quality Spanish legal advice."