As well as bringing threats, recent years have shown that a crisis can also bring welcome opportunities for change. The challenge for lawyers is, of course, in understanding how best to navigate away from the first while embracing the second.
This summer has seen a major test of Spain’s banking system following the restructuring of the country’s savings banks (cajas) with the listing of two new banks – the first major Spanish IPOs since 2007 – with the risk of failure potentially catastrophic for many within the finance sector.
The prospective bailout of Portugal by the “troika” of the European Union (EU), European Community Bank (ECB) and IMF (International Monetary Fund) may not be cause for celebration but it at least brings certainty to the country’s finances, say lawyers in Lisbon. It requires however the newly elected Social Democratic-led Government of Pedro Passos Coelho to complete an ambitious trick, to overcome vested business and political interests and achieve a dramatic financial turnaround.
The announcement in February that Madrid-based Eversheds Lupicinio was to leave the Eversheds International network and strike out on its own, followed by the decision of competition boutique Martínez Lage to regain its independence, has once again brought into question the relative merits of exclusive ties between national firms and global networks.
Law firms like their clients are looking to new markets to balance declining or at best flat revenues at home. For some this means a greater focus on established markets, forging new alliances or even rethinking the way they approach their international operations. In certain parts of the world there may still be a “land grab”, but firms seeking to build their international profile also wish to do it in a more collaborative way.