Smaller firms follow the major players in reporting
revenue increases partly due to rise in compliance and data
protection work as well as innovative pricing and greater use of
The overwhelming majority of Iberia's largest firms
increased their revenue in the last 12 months as new data collated
by Iberian Lawyer shows that the combined billing of Spain and
Portugal's 20 largest firms grew 6 per cent to €1.33
While the heavyweight firms – such as Garrigues, Cuatrecasas,
Gonçalves Pereira and Uría Menéndez –
attributed growth to major Iberian M&A deals, along with
expansion in Latin American markets when announcing their results
earlier this year, smaller players attribute their growth to
increased client demand in the areas of corporate compliance, data
protection, cybersecurity and employment.
In addition, firms are also attributing revenue growth to improved
approaches to pricing, the input of project managers, as well as
new techniques to manage workflow as well as automate a greater
amount of commoditised work.
Aside from financial sector class action specialist Arriaga
Associados – which experienced a three-fold increase in
revenue – other notable performances in 2015 included Rousaud
Costas Duran, which reported a 24 per cent increase in revenue and
Ontier, which recorded a 20 per cent increase in billing in 2015.
Ontier is now the fifth-largest Iberian law firm by revenue –
last year it was placed sixth.
Portugal revenues up
Leading Portuguese law firms PLMJ and MLGTS both recorded
healthy increases in revenue. PLMJ's billing jumped 9 per cent
to €39.2 million, while MLGTS' revenue climbed 13 per cent
to €45 million, according to The Lawyer European 100. However,
there was no growth at Vieira de Almeida, where revenue remained
flat at €36.4 million. In 2015, the firm announced the
addition of a team of six partners from rival Lisbon firm Miranda.
Meanwhile, Lisbon-based Abreu Advogados reported a 9 per cent
increase in revenue, which stood at €24 million in 2015.
Other Spanish law firms to record significant increases in revenue
last year included Lener, which saw its billing increase 14 per
cent to €18.5 million and CMS Albiñana &
Suárez de Lezo, which posted revenues of €24.1 million,
up 13 per cent on the previous year. The only firm in the top 20 to
suffer a fall in revenue was Ramón & Cajal Abogados,
which saw its billing drop 5 per cent to €18.8 million.
Hugo Ecija, founder of Ecija, which experienced growth of 5 per
cent in 2015, says the increase in the firm's revenue was not
only due to cost savings, but also a result of higher demand for
legal services related to "advertising law, corporate
compliance, data protection, cybersecurity and information
technology". He adds: "The digitization process of large
companies and the new regulations in areas of innovation, data
protection and intellectual property, amongst others, are the
trigger for growth." In addition, Ecija says that the
recruitment of new lawyers had also enabled the firm to increase
Emerging industry sectors such as fintech and 'Insurtech'
are also driving growth at law firms and the outlook for the
current year is promising, according to Ecija. "Future
prospects are optimistic, 2016 has started well – we have
developed new practice areas [related to technological innovation
and regulatory compliance] to meet the needs of the market,"
he says. "New sectors, such as fintech, 'Insurtech'
and the 'sharing economy', along with new regulations like
the new data protection regulation, are also an opportunity for law
firms to grow and occupy what was a non-existent market niche a few
The firm's profits are also growing, says Ecija, who adds
that this is partly due to the firm having developed a
"workflow monitoring system that, besides saving costs,
facilitates the daily tasks of our lawyers". Ecija says the
recruitment of a project manager has also improved the firm's
profitability. He adds that new investment in technology has also
enabled the firm to automate much of the firm's commoditised
work. "We have also implemented a "traffic-light work
assignment [system] where associates pick the incoming work in view
of their existing workload," he says.
Rousaud Costas Duran managing partner Adolf Rousaud says an
increase in foreign investment in Spain along with an increased
flow of dispute resolution, labour and public law-related matters
has boosted law firm revenues in the last year. In addition, an
"optimal pricing policy" as well as use of business
intelligence, "both internally and externally" has also
helped to boost profits, according to Rousaud. "We are
ambitious, we are currently in the top 15 of Spanish firms, but we
want to be in the top five," he adds.
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MLGTS is widely seen as the leading firm in Portugal with the most esteemed clients, but the firm says it won't become complacent because acting for the biggest companies means it is under huge pressure...
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