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Legal market overview

While times remained tough for Spain, the sale of many of the country’s distressed assets has attracted the interest of the international business community and law firms saw a resurgence of M&A as a result of companies’ divestiture of their Spanish operations.

Despite the prevalent optimism, 2014 was punctuated by aborted transactions, while restructuring and regulatory work remained very substantial focuses, with a persistent lack of liquidity and reluctance among financial institutions to provide new loans.

Competition practices across the board noted an uptick in merger clearance work and the majority also reported an increase in litigation and behavioural mandates, due in no small part to the merger of the country’s regulatory and competition agencies in 2013, creating the National Commission for Markets and Competition (CNMC).

Law firms suffered a downward pressure on fees, often describing the situation as an open price war. In other market headlines, Uría Menéndez acquired a 30% stake in the merged entity of leading Latin American firms prietocarrizosa from Colombia and Philippi Yrarrázaval, Pulido & Brunner from Chile. Garrigues also strengthened its Latin American presence by opening offices in Colombia, Mexico and Peru to supplement its existing presence in Brazil.

Spain’s three powerhouses – Uría Menéndez, Garrigues and Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira – remain at the pinnacle of the legal market, picking up much of the emerging transactional activity. Behind the leading trio is a chasing pack including Gómez-Acebo & Pombo Abogados, Baker & McKenzie, Clifford Chance, and Linklaters.

Firms in the spotlight

Gallego, Martos & Quadra-Salcedo Abogados

The Firm is a small (in terms of the number of lawyers), legal boutique established in 2008 by lawyers coming from multinational firms (Clifford Chance – all partners have had a common experience in said firm –, CMS Albiñana, Cuatrecasas, Cremades & Calvo Sotelo), with broad, practical experience and with strong participation in public and private Spanish universities as Professors (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, ICADE, Universidad Carlos III, etc).

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