European 100 rank5

The second of three Iberian law firms in the European top 10, Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira has – much like its peers – evolved out of a family-run firm into a major international player with offices around the world. The firm was founded in 1917 by Emilio Cuatrecasas Buquet and was led by a Cuatrecasas for the best part of a century. Cuatrecasas Buquet’s son Pere Cuatrecasas Sabata succeeded his father and was in turn succeeded by his son, also Emilio.

The second of three Iberian law firms in the European top 10, Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira has – much like its peers – evolved out of a family-run firm into a major international player with offices around the world.

The firm was founded in 1917 by Emilio Cuatrecasas Buquet and was led by a Cuatrecasas for the best part of a century. Cuatrecasas Buquet’s son Pere Cuatrecasas Sabata succeeded his father and was in turn succeeded by his son, also Emilio.

After the Portuguese market opened up to foreign firms in 2001, Cuatrecasas became the first Spanish law firm to find a Portuguese merger partner. It tied up with best friend Gonçalves Pereira Castelo Branco & Associados in 2003, making the critical decision of adding ‘Gonçalves Pereira’ to its branding – although Portuguese managing partner Manuel Castelo Branco quit the firm six years later to pursue other projects.

Like the larger Garrigues, Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira has expanded beyond Iberia too. It has 11 offices outside Iberia, with a focus on Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Over the years Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira has forged alliances with a range of firms, at one time being close friends with Herbert Smith in the UK. More recently it has teamed up with Italy’s Chiomenti, French law firm Gide Loyrette Nouel, and fellow former Herbert Smith ally Gleiss Lutz to create a non-exclusive European alliance. The quartet are working closely together and are sharing office space in several jurisdictions.

Turnover has been steadily but slowly growing in the past few years and Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira employs around 1,400 people worldwide including nearly 900 lawyers.

Tax and corporate are the firm’s major practice areas, with corporate contributing more than a third of total revenue in 2016 and tax just under a third.

In common with its peers in Iberia, Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira has moved towards a predominantly all-equity structure with over 90 per cent of its partners in the equity, on a modified lockstep.

In 2012 Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira split the responsibilities formerly held solely by Emilio Cuatrecasas, creating a new role of chief executive. Managing director Rafael Fontana became CEO and assumed Cuatrecasas’ executive powers.

When Cuatrecasas stepped down as firm president, Fontana took it on and continues in this role, leading the firm’s board with support from other partners. Litigator Jorge Badia was named managing partner in March 2015 and is responsible for the day-to-day running of the practice, although Fontana remains the figurehead.

Emilio Cuatrecasas is still involved with the firm and leads a three-strong partnership board.