Spain’s Cuatrecasas looks to trim partnership in wake of all-equity move

Iberian firm Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira has put 28 non-equity partners on notice that they must improve their performance or leave the firm, just months after announcing plans to to move to an all-equity partnership.

During a partner meeting in March the firm decided to ditch its salaried partner rank and bring all of its partners into the equity (26 March 2012). The move coincided with the promotion of five lawyers to partner, making the total number of equity partners at the firm 210.

There were some 28 partners who were not immediately promoted in March, although it was understood that the intention was for them to join the equity at a later date. However, sources close to the firm have told The Lawyer that the group has been told that they will have to leave the firm unless they improve their performance.

Although the firm declined to comment on this development, it is understood that the majority of the partners concerned handle corporate and commercial matters and that they will begin leaving in the coming weeks. Most of the partners are believed to have been at the firm for over 20 years.

Cuatrecasas is not the only Spanish firm moving towards an all-equity model, with Garrigues announcing a similar move last year (31 October 2011).

The news comes at a time when Cuatrecasas, like many other Iberian firms, has found growth difficult to achieve in the current economic climate. The firm saw a minimal increase in turnover for the 2011 financial year, with revenue rising by just under €1m to €242.6m (£202m) from €241.7m in 2010 (7 February 2012).

Last month a group of the firm’s labour lawyers defected to KPMG Abogados. Labour partner Antonio Bartolomé, who was an equity partner at the firm, joined KPMG’s Madrid office along with four associates (25 June 2012).

Prominent labour partner Javier Hervás Martínez then left the firm on 30 June. It is unknown where he is now working but it is thought that he was one of the original orchestrators behind the exit plan to KPMG, according to a source close to the firm. A spokesperson for KPMG confirmed that he has not joined the firm to date, although neither Hervás nor Bartolomé were able to be reached for comment.