On Sale now
YOU’D THINK WHITE & CASE MIGHT BE A LITTLE LEERY OF
opening new offices, considering the dozens of lawyers the
firm has shed over the past several years. You’d also think
the firm might not want to set up shop in economic trouble
spots—and especially not in certain southern european countries still dealing with the fallout from the global financial crisis and a catastrophic real estate collapse. Spain, for instance.
So the new office that white & Case opened in Madrid in
March raises the question: what in the world are they doing?
even Oliver Brettle, a london-based partner who sits on
white & Case’s executive committee, acknowledges that the
Madrid outpost is something of a gamble. Still, in spite of
Spain’s acute problems—which include a recent near-col-
lapse of the banking system and an unemployment rate of 26
percent—he believes it’s a solid bet. “we obviously assessed
the opportunities and the risks,” says Brettle, who notes that
the firm had been considering opening in Spain for the past
decade. “we thought that this was the right time.”
white & Case isn’t the only firm that’s been placing bets
on the Spanish market lately. This past May, Clyde & Co, a
london-based firm specializing in insurance law, launched in
Spain after luring away a nine-lawyer group, including four
partners, from the Madrid office of insurance practice rival
DaC Beachcroft. Meanwhile, more established players in the
market—including Baker & McKenzie, linklaters, allen &
Overy, and Herbert Smith Freehills—also have been beefing
up their Spanish outposts in hopes of a surge of new work.
Certainly, Spain’s economy appears to be stabilizing. not
only have the most apocalyptic predictions about the country’s future not panned out, but for the first time since early
BY SUSAN HANSEN
Five years after the fiscal crisis, there’s still
plenty of economic pain in Spain. But some law firms
see opportunity, too.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JAMES RAJOTTE