Uría Menéndez on course to beat the crunch with 10 per cent revenue jump

Uría Menéndez on course to beat the crunch with 10 per cent revenue jumpLeading Spanish firm Uría Menéndez is set to post a double-digit increase in revenue, with a 10 per cent turnover boost for 2008 expected ;despite ;the ­economic downturn.

The firm reports on a ­calendar year basis, and at the end of last year posted
a ;turnover ;of ;e161m (£144.11m). A 10 per cent boost would see it hit e177.1m (£158.52m) following a e16.1m (£14.41m) increase in 2008.

Uría co-managing partner José María Segovia said: “This year has been a pretty good year and we expect to be closing up between 9 and 11 per cent. We hope it will be around 10 per cent and my feeling is that the other big Spanish firms will ­probably be the same.”

Segovia also said he expected to make up around four associates to partner, taking the total number of partners through the 100 mark to 101.

The firm, Slaughter and May’s best friend in Spain, attributes some of its ­success this year to the differences in the way in which Spanish lawyers are trained and developed compared with their UK counterparts.

“The reason is twofold. On the one hand, the ­difficult times arrive in ­continental Europe later than the UK,” said Segovia. “On the other, in my view at least, the continental lawyers are much more ­versatile than those in the UK. Our M&A people can do bankruptcy. The M&A and capital market practices are below last year, but now these lawyers are doing a lot of finance work, refinancing and bankruptcy. For a Continental lawyer, the training is five years long and very theoretical, with a lack of practicalities. But in the long run that probably helps. In the good times, the UK model is more efficient, but in the bad times we’re probably more flexible.”

Uría is budgeting conservatively for 2009 despite a relatively buoyant 2008, expecting a modest increase in turnover of between 4 and 6 per cent.
Segovia was adamant that the firm’s policies for hiring, promotions and salaries would remain unchanged.

“Clearly we’ll be hiring lawyers,” he said. “We made a mistake in the last crisis, in 1993, and hired fewer people. We paid for that for years afterwards because we didn’t have enough senior people. That was an enormous mistake. So we will hire lawyers, pay the same salaries and not make redundancies.”

Segovia added: “If things don’t go so well then the partners will just make less money. We won’t cut salaries. There’ll be no cut in promotions. We sign a ­contract with people that says that if they’re good enough then they become a partner. It doesn’t say, ‘only in good times you’ll become a partner.’”

This year Uría bagged a mandate together with Slaughter and May to advise British Airways on its proposed merger with Spanish airline Iberia. Allen & Overy scored the role advising Iberia.

Meanwhile, in October, the firm advised a group of 52 Spanish and ­inter­national banks on the restructuring of Spanish real estate group Reyal Urbis’ E3bn (£2.69bn) debt. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer advised Reyal Urbis.