Opinion | 16-11-15

Update on the Legal Recruitment Market in Spain

With stability and growth returning to the Spanish economy, here we discuss the associate legal recruitment market and what we have seen in 2015.

2015 has so far been a good year for the lateral associate hiring market in Spain. Having overcome years of economic crisis, during which most offices have been restructured in order to be fit to face the future, with aspirations for growth and an optimistic outlook.

New roles have emerged in this new era, namely for “paralegals” (who are very common in the English and American markets) and new trainees (a result of the implementation of the Law of Access to the Legal Profession).

The practice areas with the highest demand are primarily commercial, with a demand for specialists with a medium to high degree of specialisation for increased workloads, particularly in mergers and acquisitions. This is a clear indication that investment is returning to Spain, benefiting law firms with English speakers, which represent many foreign investors. 

There is also significant demand for "corporate compliance" professionals; following financial events in recent years, new business audit systems have been established. A further area with increased demand is capital markets, also prompted by the arrival of investment funds, followed by banking/finance and tax. Meanwhile, the property, information technology and intellectual property markets have begun to grow.

There is currently demand in the market generally for individuals with excellent language skills; an indispensable prerequisite being a command of legal English, which candidates who are subjected to specific tests have sometimes proved to lack. There is also a significant demand for commercially oriented lawyers who know how to combine excellent practice skills with optimal client management. All of this generates a demand for legal experts for business development positions or leaders for the internationalisation of businesses. 

It is estimated that the biggest firms have hired around 1000 lawyers during 2015, amongst which are the four large national firms - Garrigues, Cuatrecasas, Uría and Gómez-Acebo and Pombo, as well as Pérez-Llorca, and the main UK and US law firms, Clifford Chance, Linklaters, Allen & Overy, Baker & McKenzie, Ashurst, Hogan Lovells and Herbert Smith Freehills, amongst others; those that pay the best rates to associates. By contrast, medium-sized Spanish firms and those associated with professional services - PwC, KPMG, Deloitte, EY and BDO - offer lower salaries.

For more information on the associate lawyer recruitment market in Spain please contact Alejandro Kress.