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Jose Maria Aznar

Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar has stepped down from his role as an adviser to DLA Piper’s global board, with local partners suggesting he may follow outgoing senior partner and global co-chair Juan Picon to Latham & Watkins.

Aznar, who was prime minister of Spain between 1996 and 2004, has been an adviser to DLA Piper since 2013 and played a key role in its recent Latin American expansion.

His departure from the transatlantic firm, expected to come at the end of February, comes as partners in Spain suggest he may rejoin Picon at Latham.

Picon shocked the legal market in November by resigning from DLA to join the U.S. firm’s Madrid office, though has yet to confirm his start date.

“DLA Piper and Jose Maria Aznar have mutually agreed that he will step down as a senior adviser to the firm’s global board,” a DLA Piper spokesperson said. “We are grateful for all of his efforts and look forward to continuing to maintain our friendship. We wish him all the best.”

Picon and U.S. co-chair Roger Meltzer jointly led the firm’s Latin American expansion, which saw the firm launch in Puerto Rico in 2016 and strike cooperation agreements with firms in Colombia, Mexico and Chile in 2016, and Peru in 2017.

Speaking to the Latin Lawyer, which broke the news of Aznar’s exit, Meltzer said: “President Aznar assisted us in building relationships and gaining a better understanding of the region. We now have a solid foundation on which to continue to build and grow in Latin America.”

Picon’s resignation has triggered an election to replace him as the international firm’s senior partner. Sources say developing markets managing director Andrew Darwin, Amsterdam tech partner Joris Willems, China energy head Carolyn Dong, London corporate partner Jon Hayes, and Brussels competition partner Bertold Bar-Bouyssiere are all interested in the role.

Latham declined to comment.

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James Booth

James joined Legal Week in June 2015. He reports on leading UK law firms, as well as covering the African legal market. He previously worked for legal directory Chambers & Partners as a deputy editor.

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