Joint managing partners: Gonzalo Rodés, Rafael Sala
Number of partners: 11
Number of lawyers: 40
Main practice areas: Banking, employment, private equity, real estate, tax
Clients: Banco Santander, Inter-American Development Bank, El Coto
Number of offices: Two
Locations: Barcelona, Madrid
Barcelona-based Rodés y Sala is growing quickly after riding on a wave of private equity activity in Spain over the last few years.
The firm uses a boutique approach to pick up clients that larger firms in Spain would envy, such as property developer El Coto and the Inter-American Development Bank.
Julio Veloso, managing partner of the Madrid office and a former partner at SJ Berwin, says the firm’s success is due to the level of client care it provides. “We take good care of clients from a professional and personal point of view,” he says. “We’re not cheap, but we’re not quite as expensive as the big firms.”
Although Rodés has managed to build up a name for fund structuring work and boutique M&A advice, the firm’s real aim is to go full service and compete with other national champions such as Perez-Llorca.
Veloso says: “I think we should try to be in the same range as Perez-Llorca and Ramón y Cajal. We need time, but we should try to play in that league.”
This year the firm has made up two new partners, both based in the Barcelona office, to boost its various practice areas. Litigation partner Jaime Fernandez and labour law specialist Guillermo Puig bring the total number of partners to 11. The firm is also planning to grow its real estate and arbitration practices, possibly through lateral hires.
“We’ve got a real estate team and we’re really developing that. We’re receiving a lot of work. We want to become a full-service firm,” emphasises Veloso.
Despite these grand ambitions, Rodés’ growth is hampered by the tight labour market and a lack of international outlook compared with the larger firms’.
Veloso sees exclusive alliance agreements with firms in France, Italy, Portugal and the UK as the way to plug this gap.
He adds: “At the moment clients don’t come to us for international transactions. With an international alliance, I’m sure they will.”
The firm also has plans to triple the size of its Madrid office over the next three years and has signed a lease to take the office space from 350 square metres to 1,100 square metres. Finding the right lawyers to fill the space will not be easy, however.
“We have two fronts in this battle – clients and recruitment. If you want to have lawyers of top quality then you have to work very hard to compete with firms like Clifford Chance,” says Veloso.
Rodés has a long way to go before it can compete with the larger firms across all practice areas.
The firm is setting about its task with determination, though, and has an ace up its sleeve – youth. The average age of the partnership is around 40, and new partner Fernandez has made partner at the age of 30, something almost unheard of in Spain.