Spain: Firm In Transition - Ashurst

Last Updated: 11 November 2016
Article by Iberian Lawyer

Major changes are taking place at Ashurst at a global level as the firm reviews its management and equity structures – meanwhile, the firm's Spanish office is also taking steps to alter its working practices to maximise cross-selling opportunities

"The only constant in life is change." This is a quote often attributed to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, though its origins are disputed. Regardless of who actually said it, the words ring as true today as they ever have, especially in light of the seismic shift in Europe following the United Kingdom's decision to leave the European Union.

At a more micro level, change is also a recurring theme for many law firms with Ashurst being no exception. In addition to currently undergoing a management restructure at global level –under the leadership of global managing partner Paul Jenkins who assumed his new role on 1 June this year – the firm is also in the process of reviewing its equity structure.

Collaborative approach

However, despite this period of transition at the firm, Ashurst Spain's managing partner María José Menéndez is viewing the changes in a positive light. "The firm's global management restructure might impact on the Spain office in that we might have a greater degree of influence across the whole firm," she says. "In the last two years, the firm [globally] has been industry-driven and practice-area driven, so reporting lines were transnational – but in offices of our size [the firm has 60 lawyers, including 13 partners, in Spain], we can't focus on a particular industry." Rather than striving for an industry-sector focused structure, Menéndez emphasises the need for Ashurst's Spain office to have a "collaborative approach, to work as a team and maximise opportunities for colleagues in other groups". She adds: "We ensure all partners talk to each other and we create extra opportunities for people to talk to each other – the office has a good atmosphere, in an office like ours the divisions are blurred."

Equity review

Menéndez believes the review of the firm's equity structure will also bring benefits to Ashurst. "There is no decision on the lockstep and equity structure as yet," she says. "But it could involve expanding the lockstep at the top and creating a "super plateau" level for the top performing partners and a bonus pool for partners who perform especially well." This will make Ashurst more attractive in the legal recruitment market, Menéndez says. "It will help in attracting good performing partners who outperform the average partners."

Menéndez assumed the role of managing partner of Ashurst Spain on 1 May when she replaced outgoing boss Eduardo Gracia, who had completed the customary three-year period in the role and is now the firm's global head of tax. Continuing the theme of a firm in a transitional phase, July 2015 saw the departure of the firm's banking partner Juan Hormaechea, who left to join Allen & Overy after ten years at Ashurst. It was a couple of months before he was replaced by partner Fernando Navarro, who arrived from Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira in September last year. Meanwhile, the firm's banking and finance practice in Spain will also be impacted by the imminent retirement of Gonzalo Jiménez-Blanco.

Winning clients

However, the changes in the make-up of the firm's banking and finance team represent an opportunity, according to Menéndez. "We've revisited how we organise the finance team," she says. "There used to be a division between financial regulation and project/infrastructure finance, but now there will be a more structured approach to winning clients, there will be a clear opportunity to share connections and maximise opportunities for receiving instructions from clients – I think we will quickly see the fruits of this change."

Yet the departure of Hormaechea and the delay in the arrival of his replacement, Navarro, was partly responsible for the dip in the firm's revenue for the financial year 2015-16, Menéndez acknowledges. Ashurst Spain's revenue dropped 5.2 per cent to €22.1 million in 2015-16, but the previous year they had climbed 8 per cent and the year before that they jumped a massive 22 per cent. Menéndez says that, as the firm's financial year runs from April to April, the firm's latest yearly results were more significantly affected by the reduction in activity in the spring of this year that impacted on all firms. "We also had a great result the year before [2014-15], a record result, and the 2015-16 result is still the second best result we've had," she says.

Brexit: Businesses relocating?

The subject of Brexit is covered in greater depth elsewhere in this issue, but briefly what is Menéndez's take on the development? "It would be nice if Spain was the beneficiary of businesses relocating [from the UK], but it remains to be seen how much relocation will actually happen," she says. "Dublin has an advantage in that it has the same language, but it's not a very big city, and then with Paris, Frankfurt and Madrid, there are cultural and language differences – I´m not sure the extent of the relocation will be massive, it's difficult to see London being dismantled as a financial centre."

In general, clients are adopting a 'wait and see' approach to the ramifications of Brexit, Menéndez believes. "The reactions to Brexit are not that intense," she says. "Though it could stall decisions on acquisitions and investments, and real estate activity might drop a bit – I´m not sure to what extent advisory work will make up for the decrease in transactional work."

Business as usual

Menéndez maintains that, for the time being at least, business will continue largely as normal despite Brexit. "You can't freeze the economy for two years, after the initial shock Brexit will be factored into investment decisions – work will pick up in Spain after the summer, which is typical," she says. "If there are no signs of activity by October, that would be more of a concern."

Remaining efficient is one of the key challenges law firms now have, according to Menéndez. This is partly due to the services now being offered by the 'Big Four' auditors, she says. "The 'Big Four' are interested in the legal function and they are an additional source of competition as they often come to clients with a combined package." This is why Menéndez is determined to improve efficiency at Ashurst. "We want to reinforce, and improve, the productivity of the team, maximise cross-selling, expand market penetration and utilise the team better," she explains.

Menéndez argues that Ashurst has a clear proposition for clients in the Spanish market. "We have a proposition of quality, we are a small homogenous, good quality team across all areas," she says. "At some larger firms, the service can vary between teams – we also have a user-friendly style, we don´t take pride in winning every battle against the lawyers on the other side, clients perceive us as facilitators of transactions."

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.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
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