Aiming High

Profession:Iberian Lawyer

Six years ago, Abreu Advogados stated its intention to become one of the top three law firms in Portugal. As the firm appoints a new managing partner, Iberian Lawyer asks: Has Abreu achieved its target?

Back in 2008, the then managing partner of Abreu Advogados, Miguel Teixeira de Abreu, set the firm a simple challenge. "Our goal is to be among the three leading law firms in Portugal," he told Iberian Lawyer at the time. "This is an easy statement to make, but of course the challenge is in delivering."

Fast-forward six years and the question is: Has the firm achieved this goal? New managing partner Duarte de Athayde - who was appointed last month, succeeding Miguel Castro Pereira - argues that the firm has achieved its target in accordance with a number of criteria.

"We are [one of the three leading firms in Portugal] in terms of size, we are in terms of quality, and the firm is undoubtedly the top Portuguese firm in terms of international visibility," says De Athayde. Indeed, the firm is the third largest firm in Portugal in terms of size - with 185 lawyers (of which 27 are partners) - behind PLMJ and Miranda Correia Amendoeira & Associados. However, determining which are the three leading firms in terms of quality and international visibility is a trickier task.

Well marketed

One partner at a rival firm in Lisbon says that while Abreu should be admired for its ambition of becoming one of the three biggest firms in Lisbon, and though the firm is "extremely professional at marketing themselves", Abreu does not, in his opinion, have the same level of high quality clients as the more traditional big players, namely PLMJ, Morais Leitão, Galvão Teles, Soares da Silva & Associados (MLGTS) and Vieira de Almeida (VdA).

But De Athayde rejects this assertion. "A few firms have traditionally had work from the Portuguese state - it's hard to win major established clients in Portugal, there is a lot of competition," he says. "But our strategy is to be very international. We have the same level of high-profile clients."

So, what clients does the firm have? A glance at the Legal 500 reveals that Abreu has advised Banco Espírito Santo in relation to issues such as finance-linked swaps, while other clients include Sony, Credit Suisse, Marriot International, Banco Popular Portugal, Portugal Telecom, and Caixa Crédito Agricola Comun. The firm has also advised PepsiCo Iberia on cross-border data protection and competition issues. De Athayde points out that...

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