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Wednesday, 03 July 2019 10:10

JUAN PICÓN: A ‘giant’ of the legal profession

The managing partner of Latham & Watkins’ Madrid office was one of the highest profile Spanish lawyers in the world, and a man known for his determination, courage, talent and good humour

The death of Latham & Watkins’ Spain managing partner Juan Picón came as a massive shock to the Spanish legal sector. Though it was known that he had been battling severe illness, the news of his passing was still difficult to comprehend due to the size and vibrancy of his personality. The feeling expressed by many in the sector was one of dismay and deep sadness. Picón was only 54 years of age. Few in Spain’s legal sector have achieved, or will achieve, as much as he did at such a relatively young age. Prior to becoming managing partner of Latham & Watkins’ Madrid office two years ago, Picón was senior partner and global co-chairman of international firm DLA Piper, a role that made him one of the highest profile Spanish lawyers in the world.
In total, he spent 11 years at DLA Piper, prior to that he was managing partner at Squire Sanders & Dempsey in Madrid. He also worked as a lawyer at Clifford Chance and Banco Santander. Colleagues and peers speak of a man who constantly pursued excellence with a determination, perseverance and talent that was matched by few. He was also a man of great courage, as his battle with cancer demonstrated time and again. In addition, he stood out for his boundless enthusiasm and optimism. And his sense of humour. He was often talked about, with one of the stories being that he was the highest paid lawyer in Spain. When this story was published, it is understood that, privately, it irritated him, but, in public he played along, joking that he was the “four million dollar man”. Described as a visionary, but also an incredibly considerate person, Picón’s passing leaves a gap that will be difficult to fill. Iberian Lawyer spoke to some of those who knew Picón and asked them about their memories of him.

Salvador Sánchez-Terán, managing partner, Uría Menéndez “The death of Juan Picón is a great loss both personally and professionally. I’ve known Juan since I was seven, because we were classmates at school. He was always a person of great energy and dynamism, and that has contributed to his successful career as a lawyer. Rest in peace.”

Rich Trobman, chair and managing partner , Latham & Watkins “We are mourning the death of an extraordinary and dear friend and partner. Juan was an excellent lawyer, a visionary leader, and an incredibly considerate person who touched the hearts of many members of the firm and our profession. He will be remembered for his unselfish spirit, boundless energy, generous leadership, tremendous courage and inner strength. A giant in so many ways and an inspiration to all who met him who will miss him deeply. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family and friends, as we mourn the loss of a truly special person. Our precious memories of Juan will live forever.”

Ignacio Pallarés, partner, Latham & Watkins “I cannot express in words my gratitude to Juan for providing me with assurance, guidance, and space to develop my career. With no doubt, his enthusiasm, ambition, and kindness have inspired us all and will continue to do so in the future. ‘Upwards and onwards’ was his constant motto when he joined our firm, and I’m sure he would smile knowing that it’s now that of the entire office.”

José Antonio Sánchez-Dafos, partner, Latham & Watkins “Not only has Juan been a unique leader and true lawyer, but also an incredible friend. The way he has always managed to gain the loyalty and admiration of those around him has been mind-blowing. He always sought to support and make sure that his team members grew into the best they could and took pride in the success of others working with him. Clients and the whole industry loved him, and young lawyers saw him as an example. Sharing all these years with him has been a real privilege. He was one of a kind.”ANDREW DARWIN, senior partner and global cochairman, DLA Piper, said: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Juan Picón. Juan has been a great lawyer and an extraordinary person who spent a large part of his life at the firm. He has been a great figure in the Spanish legal sector and in the business of law. We convey our deepest condolences to his friends and family.”

Laura Nemth, partner, Squire Patton Boggs “Juan was a charismatic person and an incredible lawyer with a loyal client following. When I joined the firm almost 20 years ago, it was Juan who introduced me to one of his Spanish clients to handle a US acquisition. This gesture of collaboration laid the foundation for me to develop a cross-border M&A practice. Juan opened my world to Spain, it’s incredible culture and its wonderful people. I have two favourite memories of Juan. In 2000, the firm held a retreat in Phoenix, Arizona. Throughout the retreat, Juan and our other Madrid colleagues could be heard singing from far away. My second memory is from the day the Atocha train station in Madrid was bombed and so many people lost their lives. Juan and I were at a client’s office in Madrid when this happened. Many of the client’s employees commuted to work through that station. Juan’s compassion and support of the client throughout that horrific day exemplified who Juan was as a lawyer and a person. He will be greatly missed.”

To read the article in full please download issue N.86 here