Legal Business

European movers: Bakers bolsters Madrid office with team of 20 as Hogan Lovells launches in Luxembourg and Wragges takes on Paris team

European movers: Bakers bolsters Madrid office with team of 20 as Hogan Lovells launches in Luxembourg and Wragges takes on Paris team

In many ways it is a curious time to be building up corporate and finance capability in the depressed Spanish market but Baker & McKenzie has significantly bolstered its strength in its largely third-tier Madrid office with the hire a local team of 20 lawyers from Mayer Brown’s former Spanish ally, Ramón y Cajal, including five partners.

Two of the founding members of the Spanish firm; Alberto Ureba, co-head of Ramón y Cajal’s corporate team, and Francisco Bauzá, co-head of the firm’s finance practice, are leaving to join the global behemoth by the end of the month.

Other key partners expected to leave include Guillermo Guerra, Rafael Bazán and Fernando Marroquín, none of whom were able to comment at the time.

Baker & McKenzie confirmed the news, first reported by a Spanish website, although said it did not release the news as the firm waits until lawyers are in place before announcing hires.

Mayer Brown entered into an exclusive alliance with Ramón y Cajal in 2007, although the US firm confirmed that this alliance is now over.

Elsewhere in Europe, Hogan Lovells looks set to open in the Grand Duchy after partners began voting on the move last Friday, with a Luxembourg office expected to launch at the end of the summer.

The top 15 Global 100 firm is planning on taking advantage of Luxemburg’s attractive tax status and world leading investment funds platform to set up a practice in that space. The office is likely to service a number of other practice areas and clients including corporate, real estate, private equity and tax.

‘We have plans to open in the country later this summer as there are a number of attractions for us in that market,’ said a spokesman for the firm.

This is the latest of a series of international plans to come to fruition. The firm recently bolstered its Latin America presence after obtaining a license to practice in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo last week. It also took three partners from Chadbourne & Parke earlier this year, including one based in Mexico, as the firm announced it was exploring the Mexican market.

In Paris, meanwhile, Wragge & Co has come back from the news last week that a seven-lawyer team had departed for local firm Franklin with the announcement that it has hired a four-lawyer Paris real estate team from the local office of leading UK firm Bird & Bird.

Partner Constance de La Hosseraye, who will lead the Paris-based real estate team, has joined together with three associates.

Wragge & Co’s Paris joint managing partner, Pierre Appremont, said: “Constance and her team are outstanding lawyers and exciting additions to the firm. Highly regarded in the market-place, Constance has a strong track record advising major French and international institutional investors on the full range of real estate matters.’

La Hosseraye added: ‘Wragge & Co has a compelling full-service offering and a market-leading real estate practice. In the three years since opening, the firm has made a big impact in Paris with its single team approach and ability to provide creative, pragmatic solutions to complex transactions. It’s this reputation which attracted me to join.’

Legal Business

71 new shareholders and a Madrid chief – today on Baker Mac’s intranet

71 new shareholders and a Madrid chief – today on Baker Mac’s intranet

It says something about the evolution of the legal market when a single global law firm makes up more partners annually than the total partnership of a sizeable UK practice like Travers Smith but a handful of players are now in that camp.

Passing that threshold with ease is Baker & McKenzie, which has just promoted 71 partners globally as the firm also today (1 July) announced that leading arbitrator Jose Maria Alonso will take over as managing partner of its Madrid practice just over a year after he joined from Garrigues.

The partner promotions, which take effect today, represent a 13% increase on last year and 19 of the promotions are in the Asia-Pacific region, including five in Bangkok, four in Sydney and three in Hong Kong. Twenty five partners have been appointed in the EMEA region, 18 in North America and nine in Latin America.

The group join a partnership fast closing in on 1,400 globally, roughly the equivalent of 23 Travers Smiths, as it happens.

By practice area, global M&A has benefited most with 20 of the promotions, followed by tax (15) and dispute resolution (9) with the remainder spread across other practice areas. Thirty two percent of new partners are female, an above average performance by the standard of large international law firms.

However, only one partner was elected in London, corporate tax specialist James Wilson, who in 2013 acted for Best Buy on its £500m sale of a 50% stake in Carphone Warehouse Europe to Carphone Warehouse.

Meanwhile, in Madrid the 4,000-lawyer firm has elected high-profile arbitrator and former Garrigues managing partner Alonso as regional managing partner for a three-year period, effective today. He succeeds Luis Briones, who will continue to practise as a partner in the tax team.

Alonso will combine managing the Madrid office with overseeing Bakers’ local litigation and arbitration department. He said: ‘We will work creatively and tirelessly to continue finding legal solutions for our clients and investors in Spain, and to use our unrivalled global coverage to help Spanish companies internationalise.’

You can see how Bakers fits into the international elite on Friday (5 July), when the July edition of Legal Business will reveal this year’s Global 100, assessing the performance of the world’s largest law firms.

Legal Business

Baker & McKenzie secures first UAE merger

Baker & McKenzie secures first UAE merger

Baker & McKenzie has become the first global firm to merge with a leading United Arab Emirates law firm after securing a tie up with Habib Al Mulla.

The merged UAE office will be known as Baker & McKenzie Habib Al Mulla and will advise clients on local and international law across its offices in Dubai and, if it receives regulatory approval, Abu Dhabi.

The team will be jointly led by Habib Al Mulla as chairman and co-managing partner, along with Borys Dackiw, managing partner of the Gulf region.

Habib Al Mulla has been operating in the UAE since 1984 and has a team of over 40 Arabic and internationally qualified lawyers across its offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The merger brings the number of Bakers offices in the Gulf to five, and a total of 73 offices in 45 countries.

Chairman of Baker & McKenzie’s executive committee, Eduardo Leite said: ‘The combination with Habib Al Mulla cements our presence in the UAE as it once again experiences strong economic growth.’

Koen Vanhaerents, chair of Baker & McKenzie’s EMEA region, added: ‘We are committed to investing in high-growth markets, and the UAE has been among the fastest-growing economies in the world in recent years. GDP has more than doubled since 2006.’

Al Mulla was the architect of the Financial Free Zones legal framework, which led to the establishment of the Dubai International Financial Centre as the first Financial Free Zone in the UAE.

Legal Business

Baker & McKenzie becomes first global firm in Peru

Baker & McKenzie has extended its increasing strategic focus on Latin America by becoming the first international law firm to establish in Peru.

The firm announced a new partnership with Estudio Echecopar, a leading Lima-based firm, in October. It is one of the largest firms in Peru, with over 200 staff, and is ranked in the top tier in the current issue of The Legal 500 Latin America for corporate, M&A, disputes, projects and banking and finance.