Spanish firms trail global competition

UK and US firms are beating Spain’s indigenous market leaders hands down in the race for profits


There are six international firms in the top 10 of the profitability tables, with just one of Spain’s highest grossing native firms.
Corporate heavyweight and Slaughter and May best fried Uría & Menéndez is still the best firm in Spain, coming top of the table, which is published by Spanish business paper Expansion. But Garrigues and Cuatrecasas, Spain’s two firms with the highest turnovers, are nowhere to be seen in the top 10 of the most profitable firms.
It is a myth that the Madrid offices of US and UK firms simply service US and UK clients at transatlantic market rates, argues Squire Sanders & Dempsey Spain managing partner Juan Picon.
He explains that Squire Sanders counts Telefonica among its long-term clients and also acted for infrastructure company Abengoa on its £102.4m acquisition of US chemical company High Plains early this year.
But nowhere to be seen at the upper end of the profitability tables are the international accountancy-tied firms Landwell, KPMG Abogados and Ernst & Young Abogados. In terms of turnover, these firms are fourth, fifth and seventh. Landwell also has the highest revenue per partner of all the law firms in Spain.
One leading Spanish corporate lawyer advanced a simple reason for this: “The accountancy-tied firms do mainly tax work, where you can’t charge so much per job.”

Spain’s most profitable firms 2001-2002
Rank Law firm Profits* (€m/£m) Turnover (€m/£m) No of partners Total fee-earners
1 Uría & Menéndez 3.11/1.93 78.07/48.46 46 251
2 Clifford Chance 2.61/1.62 35.76/22.2 19 137
3 Squire Sanders & Dempsey 2.47/1.53 6.91/4.3 6 28
4 Linklaters 2.34/1.45 11/6.83 7 47
5 Lusfinder 2.31/1.43 19.6/12.17 20 85
6 Alzaga Caro G Palencia 2.28/1.42 11.41/7.08 7 50
7 Allen & Overy 2.26/1.4 5.2/3.23 5 23
8 SJ Berwin 2.07/1.28 5.8/3.6 4 28
9 Nauta Dutilh 2/1.24 3.6/2.23 3 18
10 García Añoveros & Pérez-Llorca 1.95/1.21 5.85/3.63 5 30
11 Gómez-acebo & Pombo 1.94/1.2 30.8/19.12 35 158
12 Cuatrecasas 1.82/1.13 102.47/63.6 75 562
13 Bufete Barrilero & Asociados 1.72/1.07 18.8/11.7 7 109
14 P&A Consultoriá Jurídico Empresarial 1.6/0.99 29.28/18.17 14 183
15 Garrigues 1.51/0.94 142.9/88.7 92 949
16 Albiñana & Suàrez de Lezo 1.5/0.93 12/7.45 13 80
17 Píqué Abogados 1.5/0.93 8.1/5.03 15 54
18 Baker & McKenzie Briones 1.49/0.92 24.83/15.41 26 167
19 Martínez-Echevarría 1.47/0.91 2.5/1.55 6 17
20 KPMG Abogados 1.34/0.83 33.4/20.73 17 249
21 Denton Lupicinio R 1.34/0.83 5.34/3.31 6 40
22 Pedro Brosa & Asociados 1.3/0.81 7/4.34 14 54
23 Roca & Junyent 1.29/0.8 13.52/8.39 26 105
24 Stephenson Harwood Abogados 1.28/0.79 3.97/2.46 3 31
25 Bufete Olivencia-Ballester 1.24/0.77 2.23/1.38 5 18
26 Lagos Estudio Jurídico y Fiscal 1.22/0.76 4.88/3.03 5 40
27 Landwell-PwC 1.16/0.72 62.15/38.58 27 537
28 Bufete Díaz-Arias 1.09/0.68 10.8/6.7 8 99
29 Ernst & Young Abogados 0.94/0.58 46.9/29.11 33 497
30 Larrauri & López Ante 0.9/0.56 2.42/1.5 6 27
31 Deloitte & Touche Jurídico y Fiscal 0.84/0.52 15.2/9.43 12 180
32 Práctica Legal 0.84/0.52 8.41/5.22 7 100
33 Hispajuris 0.83/0.52 24.2/15.02 107 291
34 Mazars 0.82/0.51 6.76/4.2 10 82
35 Legalia 0.81/0.5 4.63/2.87 5 57
36 Balms 0.51/0.32 3.7/2.3 9 73
37 Alza 0.46/0.29 1.85/1.15 8 40
 
*Rounded to nearest e1000/£1000
Source: Expansion