Going Undercover

 
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Following their successful entry into the Spanish market, the 'Big Four' are now targeting Portugal - some Lisbon lawyers fear decreasing fees and a drain of talent to their new rivals, but others argue that the prospects of success for Deloitte, EY, PwC and KPMG are limited

Look out Lisbon, the 'Big Four' have turned their attention to the Portuguese legal market, and they are using their strong foothold in Spain to do it. Deloitte has added the Portuguese firm CTSU Sociedade de Advogados to its legal network, while Lisbon firm RRP Advogados has joined the EY global law network. Meanwhile, it is understood that PwC is expected to make an announcement regarding its own entry into the Portuguese legal market imminently, perhaps even before the end of the year.

The 'Big Four' are making such moves due to the fact that the Portuguese Bar association forbids multidisciplinary practices (MDPs) - that is, practices that have non-lawyers as partners - from practicing law in the country. Consequently, the 'Big Four' have now spotted an opportunity to enter the Portuguese legal market by acquiring stakes in Portuguese law firms through their affiliated Spanish legal operations.

Deloitte was the first to make the move by using its Spanish office as leverage, with Madrid-headquartered Deloitte Abogados taking a stake in the share capital of the existing Portuguese firm CTSU. This development has caused surprise in the legal market with one managing partner at a law firm in Portugal remarking: "That can't happen because MDPs are not allowed to practice law in Portugal." However, Miguel Rebeiro Telles, one of the founding partners of CTSU, says the link with Deloitte has been a positive one for his firm. "As regards to the national legal market, we believe that it is still too early to identify any potential relevant or significant impact that such event may have caused in the Portuguese legal market," he adds. "Taking into account that most of the Portuguese law firms are investing in the internationalisation of their legal practices, and furthermore, that globalisation is definitively the goal to achieve, we say that by joining the Deloitte Legal Network, CTSU is currently a more ambitious and stronger law firm with regard to facing the needs of the legal market."

Meanwhile, RRP Abogados - a law firm that was founded earlier this year by Ricardo Reigada Pereira, a former managing associate at Linklaters - joined the EY global law network. "Our...

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