Cautious optimism for the year ahead

As we draw to the end of one of the most challenging years for law firms and their clients
in recent history, what are your thoughts on what 2010 will bring? Will the 'difficult 2009'
be followed by an even more difficult 2010, or are we now seeing light at the end
of the economic tunnel?

'We think 2010 will still be a difficult year, the activity should start recovering
although the process will be slow and take a long time. We hope to see certain movement
in M&A and capital markets even in this time of restructurings and insolvencies and
therefore the mix should not be that bad for legal firms, particularly those that can
credibly offer those services.'
'However, this is subject to a number of uncertainties: after the Dubai World
moratorium, could this be followed by a collapse of the Greek public debt? If this
happens, the domino effect can restart again and then the better prospects would have
to wait for longer.'
Gonzalo Jiménez-Blanco, Madrid Managing Partner, Ashurst

'We certainly have more encouraging
news as we approach 2010 than we had at
this time last year. We are seeing signs of
global economic recovery and while Spain
may be later to recover we are certainly no
worse than we were a year ago. If the
markets perform as expected, 2010 could be
an interesting year for capital markets, we
will see the restructuring of the savings
banks plus the possible return of private
equity activity. I am more optimistic this
December than I was a year ago.'
Luis de Carlos, co-Managing Partner,
Urí­a Menéndez

'2010 will, in my opinion, be a
transitional year. Provided that new
adverse events do not put paid to it, the
global economy will begin a slow
recovery and this will lead to activity
picking up again to some extent in
practices such as M&A and capital
markets in certain sectors. The times of
economic euphoria will take longer to

Fernando Vives,
co-Managing Partner, Garrigues

'2010 will still
be a very
demanding year for
law firms.
Nevertheless we
are already seeing
light at the end of
the economic
tunnel which gives
us definitely more
hope than last

Nuno Galvão Teles, Head of Corporate,
Morais Leitão, Galvão Teles, Soares da
Silva & Associados

'We don’t see major changes but the trend is that our markets will
improve: more corporate activity, including some mid-tier PE deals
and probably some major M&A deals in sectors that need
consolidation. The credit market will continue to be very weak but
capital markets will remain strong. Restructurings, insolvency and
litigation will remain strong throughout the year.'
Ignacio Ojanguren. Madrid Managing Partner,
Clifford Chance

'2010 will not be as difficult as 2009 but it will take at least two or
three years to recover the levels of 2008'
Manuel Martin, Managing Partner, Gómez-Acebo & Pombo

'A difficult 2009 will be followed by an at least equally difficult 2010.
Unemployment levels are rising in Portugal and companies are facing serious
problems. The competitiveness of the Portuguese economy will continue to be an
issue. Even if the international crisis is fully overcome Portugal still needs to tackle
internal structural problems. Recent news of the downgrade of Greece and the
placement of Spain on negative watch by the rating agencies are not good news for
Portugal and will increase investor concern in respect of the stability of the Southern
European economies with immediate impact on the cost of funding for the
Portuguese State and Portuguese companies in general.'
Rui Pena, Senior Partner, Rui Pena, Arnaut & Associados