Going against the crowd – Ramón y Cajal

In the current climate, Ramón y Cajal have taken the step of more than doubling the headcount of their Barcelona office

En un paso concienzudo y valiente, considerando el clima económico actual, Ramón y Cajal abogados ha duplicado su presencia en Barcelona. Su Socio Director, José Ignacio Parellada, es consciente del reto que tienen por delante.

In a brave move given the current economic climate, Ramón y Cajal Abogados have more than doubled their presence in Barcelona with the addition of two partners, five associates and two lawyers, taking their office headcount from six to 15 in one go.
Of course, a change of office was also necessary to accommodate them, so they moved to new premises as well.
“We have taken a big step this year,” says José Ignacio Parellada, Managing Partner of the Barcelona office, “and we are extremely happy to be able to increase the number of services we can offer from the Barcelona office, not just in terms of our existing client base but also for potential new clients that we now have the resources to accommodate.”
Founded in Madrid in1986, Ramón y Cajal is better known for that office than its presence in Barcelona. But Barcelona, and Catalonia as a whole, are not only very important to the Spanish legal market, Parellada explains, but also to Ramón y Cajal’s overall strategy. “We have wanted to increase our presence in this market,” he says, “and while we have been there for some years, we adopted the approach of consolidating little by little until we were in a position to capitalise”.
As to what prompted this move in a climate that is more conducive to consolidation than growth, Parellada explains that when he joined Ramón y Cajal in 2007, the Barcelona office was intended as a “support office” to help Madrid with existing clients that were based in Barcelona. However, as client confidence in their services grew, so did the demand. The growth that stemmed from this demand, therefore, was very natural.
“We have a small unique structure that allows us to be much more flexible in the ways in which we can grow,” he says, without the constraints of numbers or internal administrative barriers.
“We had clients giving us a great deal of work that we initially offered from the ‘support office’ with the help of the office in Madrid. As this increased, we saw that the services should have been offered solely from Barcelona.”
Coupled with a demand for assistance in Barcelona coming from their 2007 commercial alliance with Mayer Brown, a global firm advising clients across the Americas, Asia and Europe, which was recently renewed for a further three years, they saw the opportunity to capitalise and strengthen those areas where there was client demand and also a need from the market.
This has included reinforcing their litigation and procedural law practice, in addition to their corporate, M&A and private equity practices, with Luis Briones, a Partner, and his team coming from Jausas.
Álvaro Bertrán also joins as a Partner from Garrigues to strengthen the commercial department, with two other lawyers, to focus, in particular, on the areas of debt restructuring and corporate.
Finally, given the recent labour reforms, they have added a Senior Associate to cover the increase in client demand for labour law advice.
They were searching for people who could fit into a young team, says Parellada, as it is the youth of its partnership that stands out at Ramón y Cajal, coupled with a high proportion of partners that allows direct partner participation in all matters so that clients are guaranteed to have their matters dealt with at partner level.
Looking ahead, “the desire is to keep on growing”, says Parellada, “but for the immediate future we are looking to consolidate the integration of the new teams into the Barcelona office and develop methods of collaboration and cooperation internally to increase the services we can offer to clients”.
The mood at Ramón y Cajal is clearly positive, both for the Barcelona office and the city itself. “Of course there are some days that are more optimistic than others,” he says, “but I think we are going in the right direction. Economically there is still a lot of work to do, but I hope that things will slowly recover, including confidence, and that there will be liquidity again so that businesses can start to develop across all sectors”.