Clifford Chance is in talks with Ramon Mullerat, the name partner of Spanish firm Mullerat & Roca, plus at least two other partners and a team of assistants from its Barcelona office, following the firm's demerger.
Clifford Chance saw its opportunity when high-profile Mullerat and fellow name partner Sebastian Roca decided to split the firm in two after failing to agree on strategy.
Mullerat said that he expected a decision to be made about whether he and his colleagues would join the UK firm in the next few weeks.
“There is no full agreement yet, but the talks are towards a merger with Clifford Chance,” he said.
The Roca side of the Spanish firm – which numbers 40 lawyers – will continue to operate as a domestic and international Spanish practice, with offices in Spain and a 10-lawyer office in Moscow.
Two weeks ago Mullerat explained the split to The Lawyer: “We have decided on the demerger because the two old firms which merged to create Mullerat & Roca had different views on the future.
“Our side wanted to expand more internationally, the Roca partners wanted to concentrate on developing the local practice.”
Clifford Chance currently has 71 lawyers in its Barcelona and Madrid offices.
The recruitment of corporate heavyweight Mullerat and his colleagues would further strengthen Clifford Chance's successful Spanish operations.
Madrid-based Clifford Chance partners Juan Jose Lavilla and Inigo Gomez-Jordana recently acted on the $11bn (£7bn) securitisation of the stranded costs, derived from the break-up of the monopoly in the Spanish electricity sector – by far the largest securitisation in Spain and Europe yet.
The Clifford Chance partners were the sole advisers to the financial arrangers of the deal: Morgan Stanley, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya and Banco Central Hispano.