With another member of the 'Big Four' opening in Lisbon to target M&A and real estate work, smaller law firms fear loss of SME clients, while calls for regulation increaseWith another member of the 'Big Four' opening in Lisbon to target M&A and real estate work, smaller law firms fear loss of SME clients, while calls for regulation increase
With PwC Legal becoming the latest member of the 'Big Four' to open in Portugal, calls from some Lisbon lawyers for the Portuguese government to regulate multidisciplinary practices (MDPs) have intensified.
PwC Legal recently announced it had incorporated newly-established Portuguese law firm CCR Legal into its legal network. CCR Legal - which was founded in January of this year - has a team of 12 lawyers led managing partner Cristina Cabral Ribeiro. The announcement meant that PwC became the latest member of the 'Big Four' to venture into the Portuguese legal market in recent times. In the last few years, Madrid-headquartered Deloitte Abogados acquired a stake in the share capital of Portuguese firm CTSU, while RRP Abogados - a law firm founded by former Linklaters managing associate Ricardo Reigada Pereira - joined the EY global law network.
The 'Big Four' have already made substantial inroads into the Spanish market - PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and EY are all ranked in the top seven law firms in Spain by revenue, with PwC being the largest with total billings of 150.7 million in 2016.
Cabral Ribeiro says PwC Legal was attracted to the Portuguese market because of its positive economic outlook, as well as the growing need for a Lisbon base. "Portugal was a missing link for the PwC legal network," she says. "For our Spanish colleagues it was critical because many matters are Iberian, and it was also important for other Portuguese-speaking clients." Corporate, M&A and real estate are among the main areas of focus for CCR Legal. "Currently in Portugal, almost every M&A deal has a real estate component," says Cabral Ribeiro. She adds that the firm is also looking to expand its public law practice. "We are currently conducting talks with a senior lawyer to join our regulatory and public law department," says Cabral Ribeiro. "We are also recruiting in M&A." According to Cabral, there has been significant interest from lawyers at other Lisbon firms who are interested in joining a rival that is part of a massive network - this will undoubtedly be cause for concern among law firms in Portugal, some of which report...