Spain's Pérez-Llorca adds senior government lawyer for Brussels opening

Sonsoles Centeno joins from EU's Ministry of Justice to spearhead office launch

Top 10 Spanish law firm Pérez-Llorca has hired an EU law expert to lead the opening of a new office in Brussels.

Sonsoles Centeno has joined the firm as a partner from a role as deputy director general for European Union and International Affairs (Ministry of Justice) and brings almost two decades of experience as a senior government lawyer.

The firm said the Brussels launch, which it expects to happen in the latter half of next year, will help it expand its client base given that a significant portion of its business revolves around advising large Spanish companies on matters related to public, competition and EU law.

The firm litigates before the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg and is involved in proceedings before the European Commission and in the EU’s regulatory development processes, which it said means its partners are often in Brussels.

It will be the first since it set up shop in New York in 2015, a year after it launched in London. The vast majority of the firm’s more than 300 lawyers are based in its two Madrid offices, while a team of around thirty also work out of its Barcelona arm.

Centeno has served as chief state advocate before the Court of Justice of the European Union (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation) and as agent of the Kingdom of Spain. Her responsibilities included directing legal advice on EU law within the state attorney’s office and managing state attorney office teams in Madrid and Brussels, as well as defending and representing Spain before the Court of Justice. 

The firm, which made its debut on Iberian Lawyer’s ranking of top 10 Spanish law firms by revenue in April after its 2020 income hit €68.5m, also announced last month that it was set to move its London office from the City to Mayfair. The firm said the move was intended to make it closer to the international funds based nearby that make up a large part of its London client base and would also see a trio of lawyers relocating from its offices in Spain to join resident partner Álvaro Ramírez de Haro.

A number of US firms have looked to Brussels in the wake of Brexit, including Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, which opened there in September with a team of six lawyers advising clients on European merger control, competition law and regulatory matters.

King & Spalding, meanwhile, hired antitrust partner Salomé Cisnal de Ugarte from Hogan Lovells in August to launch a competition practice in the city and back in May Curtis Mallet-Prevost Colt & Mosle announced that Simon Batifort, a partner in its international arbitration and public international law groups, was relocating from New York to spearhead the launch of its Brussels office.

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