Our story

In 1946, Rodrigo Uría González opened a small law office in Madrid to provide specialist legal opinions on complex legal issues. That year, he co-founded the company law journal Revista de Derecho Mercantil with his good friend Joaquín Garrigues.

 In 1950, Rodrigo met Aurelio Menéndez in Madrid. At that time Aurelio was a law graduate with a strong academic vocation looking for a mentor to help him prepare his civil service entrance exam to become a chaired professor. Aurelio went on to become not only Rodrigo’s student, but also his business associate and friend. While preparing for the exam, Aurelio also contributed to the Revista de Derecho Mercantil and got a taste of what it was like to practise law. 

In 1954, they parted company when Aurelio became a chaired professor at the Escuela de Altos Estudios de Bilbao. They remained close friends and continued to work together.

In 1953, Rodrigo became a chaired company law professor at what is now the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and in 1958, he published the first edition of the renowned Manual de derecho mercantil. This text is still the go-to book on company law for many Spanish and Latin American university students. 

Aurelio Menéndez returned to Madrid in 1960 as a company law chair, while Rodrigo Uría González’s law firm was cementing its position in the market by taking on important cases. But it was to be their role representing Spain in the Barcelona Traction case that brought them to the fore of the legal sector. The International Court of Justice in The Hague set an important precedent and ruled in Spain’s favour by rejecting Belgium’s claim in this lengthy and complex case.

Their work in The Hague only strengthened their friendship and sowed the seed of a project that would materialise over the next decade in the form of one of the most successful legal partnerships in Spain.

 

In 1973, Aurelio Menéndez, Rodrigo Uría González and his son, Rodrigo Uría Meruéndano, joined forces to turn the small corporate and commercial law practice in Madrid into a fully-fledged law firm, called Uría & Menéndez.

Following a very productive spell in the New York firm Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle, Rodrigo Uría Meruéndano returned to his father’s traditional law firm intent on implementing some of the practices he had seen in the more modern US law firms: efficiency, technology and know-how.

In 1978, when Spain was on the verge of embracing democracy again, Rodrigo son was appointed managing partner of Uría Menéndez and set his ambitious project in motion.

The small Madrid-based firm began to expand with the opening of the Barcelona office. It was headed up by Charles Coward, a US lawyer that Rodrigo Uría Meruéndano had “signed” during his stint in New York.  

As the firm grew, the Urías’ love for art became part of the firm’s DNA.

In 1985, Uría Menéndez advised the Spanish government on recovering Goya’s La marquesa de Santa Cruz, which had been exported illegally. A team of the firm’s lawyers led by Rodrigo Uría Meruéndano prevented the painting from being auctioned at Christie’s and recovered the painting for Spain. The firm saw this work as a contribution to Spain’s artistic and cultural heritage and waived its fees.

In 1987, Uría Menéndez once again represented national interests but this time in the negotiations to bring the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection to Spain. The case concluded successfully in 1993, when the Spanish State purchased the collection.

In the 1990s, as the Spanish economy boomed, the firm continued to grow both nationally and internationally following in the footsteps of leading Spanish and Portuguese companies that were expanding abroad. The firm opened offices in Brussels, New York City, London and Valencia.

In 1997, Uría Menéndez became the first Spanish law firm to open an office in Portugal (Lisbon). The next year, the firm opened its first office in Latin America (São Paulo) and began collaborating with prestigious local firms in Argentina, Chile and Peru.

It is also during this period that Uría Menéndez joined forces with the leading independent law firms in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy to create the “Best Friends” network.

Rodrigo Uría González and Aurelio Menéndez were awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences in 1990 and 1994 in recognition of their contribution to the Spanish legal system in democracy.

The 21st century began with the sad news of the passing of Rodrigo Uría González on 17 September 2001 at the age of 95.

In 2005, after leading Uría Menéndez for almost three decades, Rodrigo Uría Meruéndano stepped down to make way for the younger generation and handed over the reins to José María Segovia and Luis de Carlos.

That same year, Rodrigo Uría created the Professor Uría Foundation in honour of his late father. Through its projects, members of the firm work on charitable initiatives designed to help some of the most vulnerable groups in society. That same year, Rodrigo Uría created the Professor Uría Foundation in honour of his late father.

Also in 2005, Uría Menéndez began its art collection with a clear purpose: to support contemporary Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American artists. The collection is made up of more than 200 works, which are on permanent display in the firm’s offices.

Uría Menéndez continued to grow and opened offices in Bilbao and Mexico City. After many successful years, on 17 July 2007, the firm was hit with the sad news that Rodrigo Uría Meruéndano, president and the true essence of Uría Menéndez, as well as the chair of the Prado Museum’s board of trustees, had passed away at the age of 66.

José María Segovia later described this period as one in which, “We went from having a charismatic leader to leadership by consensus". The firm’s transformation was consolidated and in 2011 Luis de Carlos was reappointed as managing partner and José María Segovia became senior partner of the firm: another great alliance.

 

In 2010, Uría Menéndez joined forces with Daniel Proença de Carvalho’s law firm in Lisbon to create Uría Menéndez-Proença de Carvalho in Portugal.

After almost two decades in Latin America, 2015 saw the creation of PPU (Philippi, Prietocarrizosa, Ferrero DU & Uría), the first leading Ibero-American firm with around 400 lawyers and more than 50 partners. PPU is present in Chile, Colombia and Peru.

On 3 January 2018, Aurelio Menéndez passed away in Madrid at the age of 90. That year, the firm opened a new office in calle Suero de Quiñones in Madrid and named it “Edificio Aurelio Menéndez” in his honour.

In January 2019, after 13 years at the head of the firm, José María Segovia retired and was replaced as senior partner by Luis de Carlos, who in turn was succeeded by Salvador Sánchez-Terán as managing partner. The firm’s transformation was complete.

The firm’s 70th anniversary, marked in 2017, celebrated its collective success over the past seven decades. That success has made Uría Menéndez not only a successful business, but also a school for lawyers and an institution.

 

This decade has got off to a challenging and unpredictable start. The global health crisis has forced individuals and businesses alike to take stock and focus on what really matters: people and humanity. These are uncertain times, but at Uría Menéndez we are sure that the future, come what may, will always be better if we stay true to the core values that have been embedded in our culture from day one. We will always be more Uría and a better Uría with you by our side.