Spain: Raising The Bar

Last Updated: 13 June 2018
Article by Iberian Lawyer

With one of the best-paying law firms in the world, Latham & Watkins, looking to boost its team in Madrid, rival firms are bracing themselves for a fight as they look to retain their top talent – however, some observers say money alone will not make partners jump ship

"Latham & Watkins is in hiring mode in Spain." These are the words of one M&A partner based in the Madrid office of a rival Magic Circle firm and they are enough to strike fear in the hearts of managing partners at firms across the Spanish capital. Given Latham's reputation as one of the best law firms in the world to work for – at least in terms of the amounts lawyers can earn – it's a pretty safe bet that they will be able to make offers that will prove severely tempting to pretty much any partner in the Spanish market. Profits per equity partner (PEP) at US-headquartered Latham hit $3 million in 2016.

One managing partner at a leading law firm in Spain says Latham's new Madrid managing partner Juan Picón could be earning up to €4 million per year in his new role. This could be wild speculation, some say that this is more likely to be the size of the pay packets of Latham partners based in London. However, other partners at law firms in Spain – some of whom claim to have been approached by Latham in the past – say that such stories may not be too far away from the truth.

Charismatic rainmaker

Latham currently has 25 lawyers in its Madrid office, but a source close to the firm says the plan is to at least double the headcount in Spain, and maybe even hit the 60-lawyer mark. The firm got the ball rolling by recruiting a new managing partner for its Madrid operation – hence the arrival of DLA Piper's senior partner and global co-chairman Picón, whose move was confirmed in October last year. One senior M&A partner in Madrid says that Latham sounded out a number of highly respected partners at Madrid firms for the role, so why did the final decision go Picón's way? Lawyers in the Spanish market say a number of factors were involved, including the fact that Picón has a very loyal client following, as well as having a reputation for being a rainmaker with a charismatic personality who knows how to look after clients well. Picón was not the only DLA partner to defect to Latham – also joining him were corporate partners Ignacio Gómez-Sancha and José Antonio Sánchez-Dafos.

But the hiring spree will not stop there, with the firm looking to bolster a number of practice areas. A source close to Latham says a banking partner (see box), an employment partner and a real estate partner are among the priorities. And the result is that rival Spanish firms are now gearing up for a fight as they look to keep hold of their top talent. As one corporate partner at a leading firm in Madrid puts it, "this is a challenge for all of us [the top firms in Spain] – lawyers at Latham earn a lot of money." The partner adds: "They are able to offer the top rate and they want more people; this could affect more law firms."

Under pressure

Sources say that Latham is currently attempting to entice partners and senior associates away from rivals, particularly the Magic Circle firms. "They're calling our people, even our senior associates," says one partner at a Magic Circle firm in Madrid. Such firms are now under pressure to pay their senior associates more to stop them jumping ship. "We need to be sure we can cover the gap [between what we pay and what Latham pays]," says one partner, who adds that Latham are likely to be offering senior associates at other firms a 20 per cent increase in their current remuneration.

The view that Latham's rivals could be forced to increase the level of remuneration they offer their lawyers is shared by some recruiters. Stephanie Greaves, managing consultant at Laurence Simons, says that if there is one firm in the market offering significantly higher remuneration packages to lawyers it may "lead to other partners having much higher expectations in terms of what they want in terms of remuneration, but whether firms respond to these demands is another question". She adds that, in such circumstances, partners "may shop around and may try for a significant rise".

Being sensible

However, other market observers argue that the impact of Latham's hiring spree on the Spanish legal recruitment market in general will be minimal. Silvia Pérez-Navarro, managing director of Iterlegis Legal Staffing Solutions, says: "Top law firms have their own hiring strategy and I do not expect that they will change it for one specific move in the market." She adds that the battle for legal talent is always being fought and Latham's recruitment drive does not change the underlying dynamics. "Top law firms want to have the best partners and recruit them when and as they need," she explains. "I do not think that this particular case will have a specific impact."

Pérez-Navarro also doubts that law firms will, in general, begin offering associates bigger remuneration packages. "Firms have their own remuneration schemes and I doubt that they will change them," she says. Pérez-Navarro adds that, while law firms are offering attractive remuneration packages, they will not be increased substantially and will remain "sensible". However, Pérez-Navarro says that lateral hires at partner level in Spain are on the increase. "The economy has very good prospects in Spain, we recovered from a dramatic recession and so law firms wish to increase their teams to respond to client demand." She adds that, in general, "very reputed partners with a large client portfolio" are in demand, but firms are also looking for more junior partners who may have smaller client portfolios, but also have the potential to develop them. "All of our clients demand that the individual fits into their firm's culture," Pérez-Navarro says. "Real estate, corporate, capital markets, IT law and criminal law are the areas where there is the highest demand nowadays, and a good banking partner is always welcome too."

'We are not afraid'

However, there are doubts about whether a strategy of offering lawyers at rival firms more money to persuade them to join your ranks is one that always pays off. While remuneration is a key consideration when partners move between law firms, there are other factors that influence lawyers when deciding their next career move, according to Pérez-Navarro. "In our experience, salary is an important factor, and should be in line with lawyers' profile and value, but it is not the only factor partners consider when they move," she says. "Other non-tangible and very important factors are the new firm's culture and values, its market reputation and its market and client strength."

One leading corporate partner in the Madrid office of a Magic Circle firm sums up his reaction to Latham's desire to recruit top talent thus: "We're not afraid, we pay well, but firms who don't pay at that level may be more worried."

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions