Spain: Firms Need To Sell Advantage Of ‘Trusted Advisers' To Clients

Last Updated: 28 April 2016
Article by Iberian Lawyer

With clients' loyalty to legal service providers diminishing, lawyers say firms should do more to promote the benefits of more in-depth relationships between clients and their advisers

As clients display a greater tendency to shop around for legal services, it is argued that lawyers need to make greater efforts to communicate the value of the `trusted adviser´ relationship as this benefits both the law firm and the client. As a consequence, lawyers argue, potential problems are more likely to be anticipated.

A number of recent Iberian legal market studies have emphasised the importance of trust in a lawyer-client relationship. Iberian Lawyer's Generation 3.0 research – which sought to identify the characteristics clients look for in the lawyers of the future – revealed that key to the success of the next generation of lawyers will be the ability to create close, personal client relationships based on trust.

Other conclusions were that lawyers will have to have "stronger commercial empathy" with their clients in the future.

Indeed, in a 2015 survey of in-house lawyers in Spain and Portugal, 61 per cent said one of the biggest mistakes law firms made when pitching for work was that "they did not demonstrate an understanding of our business".

Anecdotal evidence suggests that despite law firms in Iberia reporting higher rates of growth, lawyers are only now starting to come to terms with the damage caused to the lawyer-client relationship during the crisis years.

One member of Iberian Lawyer's In-House Club, who prefers to remain anonymous, says: "Since the start of the financial crisis, I have had a daily battle over fees with the very lawyers I respect and rely on the most – I think that we all have new scars to show for this." It is in this context that some lawyers argue that more needs to be done to sell the benefits of the 'trusted adviser' to clients.

"The term trusted adviser is commonly used to describe professionals that provide an integral consultancy service to clients," says Juan Antonio Ruiz, litigation partner at Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira in Barcelona. "Most clients value and understand the benefits of this type of service – this is because it is a win-win deal that increases value for both parties."

Ruiz argues that being a trusted adviser makes communication between a law firm and its client more effective. He adds that this enables information to "flow properly and results in a broader understanding of problems and weaknesses."

'Communication is paramount'

Yet despite claims that clients understand the value of a trusted adviser, some lawyers argue that law firms need to do more to promote the idea to clients. Fernando Navarro, partner and co-head of banking and international finance at Ashurst Spain, says law firms could make a greater effort to communicate the value of the trusted adviser relationship. "One of the pillars of any law firm should be getting to know its clients better, and to learn more about the businesses they are engaged in," he says. "Communicating this should be paramount for law firms."

Navarro argues that lawyers that embrace the role of trusted adviser will have a competitive advantage. He continues: "Lawyers must be prepared to adapt to the trusted adviser role because clients will be looking for this – and this will set a lawyer apart from the rest."

However, Carlos de Cárdenas, partner at Uría Menéndez, believes that rather than communicating the value of the trusted adviser relationship, lawyers have to earn clients' trust. He adds: "You have to build trust by being credible, reliable and reaching a certain intimacy level with the client without losing your own independence – you must truly care." De Cárdenas says lawyers should aspire to reach the status of trusted adviser to clients. "Lawyers must evolve the relationship to that higher level where it goes from being based on service to being based on trust," he continues. De Cárdenas believes the relationship requires that "both parties, client and lawyer, invest time and resources in it – it takes time to earn trust".

PLMJ partner Thomas Pessanha says a trusted adviser relationship can have many different meanings. He adds that it could be argued that a trusted adviser is technically strong but also with an outstanding ability to use communication skills, business acumen and strategic thinking. Pessanha continues: "One can identify a lawyer as a trusted adviser when he or she is repeatedly asked to give advice beyond his or her area of expertise."

Mutual trust

However, there is a widely held view that more clients are shopping around for legal services before making a decision on which firm they will use. Ruiz says: "The legal sector is going through some changes, but this does not mean that the trusted adviser relationship is absolutely affected by this as the relationship is not defined in monetary terms." He adds that such relationships involve "mutual trust and dependability". He continues: "In fact, lawyers have to work with great professional diligence and competence, regardless of the fees charged."

It is crucial that lawyers adapt to this new environment, according to Ruiz. "Law firms must find new forms of advice to complement their main activities and can do so by educating their lawyers, focusing on knowledge and inter-personal skills," he argues. "This makes the client's confidence grow, leading to a 'trusted adviser' relationship."

"Trust was one of the first casualties of the downturn," one Madrid managing partner told Iberian Lawyer. "And it is too soon to say how that can be rebuilt".

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions