Garrigues is the product of its more than 80 years at the forefront of the legal industry. At each stage, we have evolved and anticipated the changes that lay ahead, remaining true to the essential values of our profession and our firm: standing by every client and making sure we identify and interpret their needs and offer the best possible service.
In continuos evolution
J&A Garrigues was founded in 1941 as a result of the merger of two separate law firms managed by brothers Joaquín and Antonio Garrigues Díaz-Cañabate. Antonio Garrigues Walker (son of Antonio Garrigues Díaz-Cañabate) joined the family firm in 1954 and took the reins as chairman eight years later, after his father left to take up his appointment 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 1970s marked the beginnings of the firm’s considerable reputation among foreign companies starting to set their sights on Spain, looking to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the country’s new democratic system. The firm’s leadership 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 US companies setting foot on Spanish soil. Alongside Ford, other notable clients included IBM, Philip Morris, Hewlett-Packard and Avon. A key part of this success was undoubtedly due to the Garrigues New York office, which opened in 1973, making us the first European law firm to open for business in the Big Apple.
Following constant growth in terms of professional headcount and billings, 1997 was a watershed year for the firm. It saw the merger with Arthur Andersen Asesores Legales y Tributarios (ALT), the tax and legal arm of Andersen, which helped shape the Garrigues of today.
The merger was carried out under the umbrella of four core concepts: synergy in practice areas, refinement of the management system, technical training of professionals, and the internationalization of activities. It was also a merging of two different corporate cultures with important synergies, allowing each to get the very best out of the other: Garrigues was a leading provider of labor, commercial and civil law advisory services, while Andersen was a leading consulting, audit and tax advisory firm.
The 21st century brought with it the downfall of the multinational Enron, which would spell the end for Arthur Andersen. In 2002, Garrigues’ partners decided to embark on a new journey, moving on from the Andersen era and recovering the firm’s former name: J&A Garrigues. Despite the difficulties at that time, the positive outcome of the merger was clear from the beginning. The figures speak for themselves: in the five years following the merger, billings at Garrigues were up 130%, while the professional headcount had doubled to more than 1000.
In order to maintain its leading position, the firm worked flat out to lay the foundations for its own international network. The early 2000s saw Garrigues’ expansion into growing markets such as China, Morocco and Poland, and the opening of additional offices in more established markets such as Portugal and the UK.
On October 1, 2014, Fernando Vives, one of the most eminent corporate/commercial lawyers in Europe, was named executive chairman of Garrigues (following his appointment as managing partner in 2010). He succeeded Antonio Garrigues, who was named honorary chairman of the firm and remains at the helm of the Garrigues Foundation. Since then, Vives has twice been re-elected as chairman by the firm’s partners, most recently in 2022.
Fernando Vives’ chairmanship marked the beginning of a new era in which Garrigues has become a firm of choice in Latin America, with a management model based on setting up own offices and a strong team of professionals who share the same corporate culture and values. The opening of offices in Colombia, Peru, Mexico and Chile has given Garrigues one of the largest direct presences in the region, with the ability to offer clients local, regional and global advice covering every angle of business law.
This decade, bookended by two major crises (the 2008 financial turmoil and the Covid-19 pandemic), also saw the beginning of the firm’s digital transformation and the deepening of its ESG commitment, among other milestones.
The COVID-19 global health crisis revealed the wisdom behind our executive chairman’s belief: “Above all, our firm must be prepared to face whatever the increasingly uncertain future brings.” And it showed Garrigues’ capacity to deal with the unexpected. We now face the future with increased confidence, encouraged by the trust of our clients, the talent of our people, our diversification by service line and country, and our sound financial footing.