It is the most famous signing in the legal sector for a long time. And although it inevitably reopens the debate about the revolving doors, limiting its analysis to that circumstance would be to leave out some key elements to understand the reason for the movement and its consequences. The incorporation of the former vice-president of the Government Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría to the Catalan law firm Cuatrecasas entails undeniable opportunities for both parties, but also some risks that will not be easy to deal with for either of them.
Although It is not the first signing of a politician by a law firm, this presents some particular characteristics that make it impossible to compare them with others. Sáenz de Santamaría has been designated partner and member of the board of directors of the firm; that is, she will act as a lawyer and will be subject to demanding billing objectives. Nothing to do, therefore, with the case of former Minister of Justice Rafael Catalá, who in October joined the advisory board of the law firm Herbert Smith Freehills, or that of former President José María Aznar, international advisor to Latham & Watkins (formerly in DLA Piper ). "You can not make a parallel with situations in which the only thing you ask is help to open a certain door or participate in two or three strategy meetings a year. Santamaría is going to demand full dedication and annual results ", explains Javier Moreno, partner of the legal headhunting firm IurisTalent.
¿What Cuatrecasas has seen in Santamaría? In the first place, the exceptional technical knowledge that proves that she is a lawyer of the State (and number two of her promotion), a very coveted quality by law firms. So much so that one in three members of the legal body of the Administration elite (247 of 634) is in voluntary leave, according to the data of the annual report of the State Lawyers of 2017.
But, evidently, their hiring can not be explained only by the interest in their legal profile. The own Rafael Fontana, executive president of the signature, has praised the "great dowries of management" of the exvicepresidenta. And the fact that, in addition to being a member, it has been incorporated into the board of directors, a governing body reserved for members with a long and well-established career, proves that something more is expected from it.
Ignacio Bao, managing partner of the Signium scout company, points out that his time in the Executive, and more in the qualified position of vice president, gives Santamaría a "differential relational capacity". Or, which is the same, a privileged agenda and an influence superior to that of other lawyers. "It's not that other large offices can not call certain positions or organizations, but yours can be the qualified call, the one that tilt the balance." In addition, his political background will allow him to contribute significantly to the growth of the organization in Latin America and gives him an authoritative view on very complex issues (but very profitable for an office) such as energy, transport or telecommunications. To all this, the sector is aiming at one more element: that it is a tactical movement that reinforces the image of Cuatrecasas as a national office and not exclusively Catalan. A strategy for which it is key to have a great key to entry in the Administration.
What does Santamaría earn? At the professional level, it is integrated into the second Spanish firm by billing - in 2017 it received 208 million euros - which competes to participate in the largest operations in the country. And, in economic terms, your remuneration, at least, will double that of a State lawyer. According to sources of the sector, in no case would fall of the 150,000 annual euros, being the hairpin more likely between 250,000 and 400,000 euros.
On the other side of the scale, the office and the former vice-president will have to face some minor risks. The first one is that the incorporation negatively impacts the reputation of the firm. In a double sense: on the one hand, that is perceived as a signing in which the willingness to lobby (the activity that bad press has in Spain) weighs more than its technical-legal contribution; and on the other, that causes discomfort among clients and members of the organization in Barcelona close to the independence movement. The signing of politicians is a delicate operation in which other large firms, such as Garrigues or Uría, have the habit of not embarking.
The second is Santamaría's own integration. The sociatures are complex structures, with a much more horizontal operation than the hierarchical Administration, "and not all those who come from the public sector know how to understand and empathize with this demanding ecosystem," says Moreno.
And finally, the fulfillment of the objectives required by the category of partner. It is wrong to think that Santamaría has found a golden retreat in Cuatrecasas. Nothing is further from reality. All the sources consulted coincide in pointing out that the large incorporations of the sector have accompanied a business plan and annual billing goals, from which the variable part of the salary is made dependent. "You will have to justify your remuneration," says Bao, who, nevertheless, is convinced that the firm will have taken into account that the former vice president does not bring with her a portfolio of clients, so she probably needs more time to reach the results. that are required of any other partner. "It is a signing that is profitable in the medium or long term," he concludes.
The technical knowledge and high-level contacts available to state lawyers, such as Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, make them very attractive professionals for law firms. However, in some cases, these lawyers do not opt for a voluntary leave, but request permission to reconcile their public and private activities. The only limit is that they do not sue the State. A border that is not always clear and on which there is no exhaustive control. This type of media signings generate controversy when remembering situations from the past. In the case of Santamaría, when she was vice-president of the Government, Emilio Cuatrecasas reached an agreement with the prosecutor's office and the State's legal profession to avoid prison for a fiscal offense in exchange for a heavy fine.