About the firm

Foundation and institutionalization of the Firm

Antonio Garrigues Díaz-Cañabate en su despacho

J&A Garrigues was founded in 1941 as a result of the merger of two separate law firms managed by the brothers Joaquín and Antonio Garrigues Díaz-Cañabate.

Antonio Garrigues Walker (son of Antonio Garrigues Díaz-Cañabate) joined the family firm in 1954 and took over the reins as chairman eight years later, following his father’s posting as Spanish Ambassador to the US. The Firm then began to take shape as an institutional organization, moving towards the partnership-type model typical of English-speaking countries, in which firms are collectively owned by their professionals according to merit and length of service.

For Garrigues, the seventies marked the beginnings of the Firm’s considerable reputation, which was being forged among the foreign companies starting to train their sights on Spain, as opportunities began to open up under the country’s new democratic system. Indeed, the Firm’s monopoly in the field of foreign investment advisory services was such that, for some time, Henry Ford was under the misapprehension that Garrigues must be some type of Spanish tax, since a ‘Garrigues fee’ was an ever-present item in the accounts of the US companies setting foot on Spanish soil. Alongside Ford, other noteworthy clients included IBM, Philip Morris, Hewlett-Packard and Avon. A key part of this success was without doubt the Garrigues New York office, which opened in 1973 and was the first Spanish law firm to open for business in the Big Apple.

It was followed in the eighties by the Brussels office (the nerve center for the Firm’s dealings with Europe) and the creation of the Club de Abogados, providing Garrigues with an extraordinary international network under agreements forged with firms from Latin America, Europe and Japan.

Merger of two cultures

Following constant growth in terms of professional headcount and billings, 1997 was to be a watershed year in the modern history of the Firm, to which the beginnings of what Garrigues is today can be traced: the merger with Arthur Andersen Asesores Legales y Tributarios (ALT). It was also a merging of two different corporate cultures that yielded textbook synergies, allowing each to get the very best out of the other and helping Garrigues cement its position as the leading firm in the Spanish legal market.

To properly understand the Garrigues/Andersen ALT merger, it is essential to be aware of the backdrop to the US giant’s arrival in Spain. This took place in 1960, foreshadowing the economic and social change the country was shortly to experience. Within the organization there was a clear understanding that audit work ought not to be restricted purely to US and foreign clients but should rather help Spanish companies to get on the track towards modernity.

In 1997, Andersen and J&A Garrigues stood out as leaders in their respective fields: Garrigues in the field of corporate/commercial, labor and employment, and civil law advisory services; and Andersen in consulting, audit and tax advice. It was then that they first became aware of the complementary fit and potential for synergies presented by the two firms, and a strategy that went far beyond a partial alliance began to emerge. The 1997 merger with Andersen ALT (the tax and legal arm of Andersen), which gave rise to Garrigues&Andersen, was carried out under the umbrella of four core concepts: synergy in practice areas, the perfecting of the management system, the technical training of professionals, and the internationalization of its activities.

Independence regained

The 21st century brought with it the downfall of the multinational Enron, to whose fate Andersen was inextricably tied. On December 2, 2001, it was announced that the energy giant had gone bankrupt. Arthur Andersen was among the worst hit and was formally charged with obstruction of justice in March 2002.

A few days later, the partners decided that Garrigues would regain its independence and recover its former name, together with its corporate identity.

Despite those difficult times, no one at Garrigues would dispute the positive outcome of the 1997 merger. The figures speak for themselves: in the five years following the merger, billings at Garrigues were up 130%, while professional headcount had increased twofold (from 500 to more than 1000).

Striking out on its own again, Garrigues was able to build on its business and professional legacy, which would play a fundamental role in its international expansion.

Consolidating leadership

Fachada principal del edificio de Garrigues en la calle Hermosilla, 3 de Madrid

In order to maintain its leading position, Garrigues worked flat out in the years after regaining its independence and lay the foundations for its own international network.

The Firm began to expand into emerging countries, gaining a foothold with offices in Shanghai, São Paulo, Casablanca and Warsaw. Its extensive international network has been rounded out with new offices in such well-established legal markets as London, without overlooking its strong presence in Portugal thanks to the offices in Lisbon and Oporto, the result of the traditional Iberian outlook that has always been a hallmark of Garrigues.

Garrigues' international legal network also boasts strategic alliances. In 2005, our tax practice was bolstered with the creation of Taxand, an independent network of purely tax firms, made up of more than 2,000 professionals spanning the five continents.

This reinforcement on the international stage was mirrored by the growth of the Firm’s geographic reach in Spain, with offices in 18 cities.

Latin America, strategic cornerstone of Garrigues’ international expansion

An international outlook and a desire to stand shoulder to shoulder with our clients are Garrigues’ hallmarks. This is why, in 2013, we decided to become the firm of choice in Latin America too, where we have been present, in one
shape or form, for over four decades. Latin America represents a natural, strategic region for a fundamental part of Garrigues’ clients operating there. 
 
In 2015, more than 25% of Garrigues’ clients had a presence in the Americas. The firm also advises Latin American clients on a recurring basis as they expand through Europe.
 
The firm is now growing its Latin American legal practice having rolled out a network of own offices providing local law services in the most important countries in the region, such as Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Chile or Brazil.
 
The firm’s expansion is all set to be rounded out with the unveiling of new offices in other countries in the area, that are of particular interest to Garrigues and its clients.

Fernando Vives appointed Executive Chairman

October 1, 2014 marked another seminal moment in the modern history of the Firm. Fernando Vives, Managing Partner of Garrigues since 2010, was appointed Executive Chairman of the Firm following a resolution adopted by the Partners’ Meeting. Antonio Garrigues, upon reaching eighty years of age, stepped down as a partner and was named the Firm’s Honorary Chairman. He will continue as Chairman of the Garrigues Foundation.

The Firm is now entering a new era under the leadership of Fernando Vives, one of the most prestigious corporate and commercial lawyers in the legal industry, with over twenty-five years’ experience at the Firm and eight as head of the corporate and commercial law practice.