Friday, March 31

Albert Rivera’s former law firm accuses him of being “obsessed” with the media and points to a war in the courts

The battle between Albert Rivera and José Manuel Villegas with Martínez-Echevarría, the office where they provided their services until last week, will be long. Rivera and Villegas claim compensation equivalent to fixed and variable salaries until 2025 or 500 days for each of the two years they have been hired.

Albert Rivera’s former law firm refuses to negotiate: “We will not reach an agreement even if it consists of paying him 1,000 euros”

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In the office they do not see any margin for the agreement and assume that there will be a trial. “We know that we are absolutely right and we hope that we will be notified of the lawsuit. There is no negotiation nor will there be, we have nothing to negotiate. The truth helps us. We do not know what has happened to his head for that request, ”explains Rafael Martínez-Echevarría, founding partner, to

The office replied on Wednesday afternoon by sending a burofax to Rivera’s lawyers in which it describes his claims for compensation as “offensive” and “fantasies.” “The non-pecuniary damage that he talks about is a boutade that, when quantified and how he does it, becomes rude,” he says. In that communication, signed by Vicente Morato (CEO), Rivera is accused of starting a media battle, of having an “absolute obsession with his presence in the media” and of being “convinced of the power of his image” and the position of advantage that it would give him.

Story of a breakup: “At first we didn’t even give it credibility”

From the office they now appeal to prudence and to lower the tone, after the statements issued from their headquarters (always on condition of anonymity) in which Rivera was accused of being lazy. The war has lasted three days, since Monday The confidential advanced the abrupt departure of the former politicians from the office that signed them, with great fanfare, in March 2020, just before the state of alarm.

They found out about his departure in the office through an email sent by a lawyer to Vicente Morato, CEO of Martínez-Echevarría. “At first we didn’t even give it credibility. How are you going to believe it?”, an authorized source explained to this medium last Wednesday. The previous Friday Rivera had participated normally in an act in the office and for this week he had an agenda with professional appointments that had to be canceled, according to that source.

The origin of the resignation is, according to Martínez-Echevarría, a performance well below what was expected when he was signed. “His resignation is caused by our constant demands to improve his performance, which is very low from the beginning. We have always done it with the typical ways of a company to get better performance from people, insofar as it is being null ”, the same internal source explains to this medium.

Rivera and Villegas, for their part, wield the alleged breaches of the company to make effective their appointment as president and executive vice president and the allocation of a percentage of the shares, according to El Confidencial. Nor would he have paid them a part of the bonus linked to results. “In any company, every variable is related to the result”, they reply in the office.

A statement to the partners: “empty speeches” and “protagonism demands”

On Tuesday, the partners received a statement, which this medium has accessed, in which the management stressed the “non-existent involvement and no contribution” of both, which had resulted in a “huge disappointment”. “Although we knew of his complete inexperience in our sector, we have all been surprised by his inactivity, his lack of involvement, interest and his most basic ignorance of how a business organization works,” he says to himself. “We are not used to empty speeches in our profession; to fill the spaces only with words without real support; to such pronounced demands for protagonism; nor to formalities of personal exaltation that are non-existent among colleagues in the profession”.

The text, centered on Rivera, accuses the former Ciudadanos leader of having “marked professional weaknesses.” However, the firm hired him, even making a financial effort that they now see as excessive: “he forced us to commit more financial resources than our consultants recommended.”

Now, the office prefers to wait for the most likely lawsuit to progress to comment in detail on Rivera’s alleged breaches. If it comes to trial, contractual details of the relationship could end up coming to light, such as the requirements to attract clients or the salary, which in the sector is above 450,000 euros.

“It’s going to bring tail,” predicts a lawyer who knows the office very well, who predicts a possible line of attack for Rivera that, in turn, could turn against him: was he pressured to use his contacts in politics and the institutions? Did he? Rivera had no experience in the legal sector, beyond two years as an intern at La Caixa, as Martínez-Echevarría has recalled these days. He and Villegas came to the firm when Ciudadanos was part of regional governments in Castilla y León, Madrid or Andalusia, and coinciding with a plan in the office that was to consolidate its presence in Seville.

Another lawyer who also worked for Martínez-Echevarría warns of another conflict: “Rivera and Villegas signed a lot of people. The key is whether they are now taken to their new project.” The scope of the non-compete clause will determine the future activity of both.

A controversial office

Martínez Echevarría is an office with origins in Marbella, which currently has 262 workers (141 on staff), twenty partners, eleven offices in Spain, nine in Portugal and two in Turkey. In its welcome website a large photo of Albert Rivera as “executive president” still appears. This is a very commercially oriented firm, with sales strategies that many lawyers consider “aggressive”, to say the least. From day one, lawyers and salespeople are required to meet ambitious business goals, which escalate as soon as they are achieved. Sources familiar with the office believe that Rivera and Villegas have not been exempt from that pressure. “Although they will have been treated differently, more gently.”

At times, their expansion attempts in other cities have also ended badly. This was the case in Seville, where he signed a collaboration agreement with a firm rooted in the city. “There were fights between partners. They expel one of the partners, who had precisely brought Martínez-Echevarría, set up the office in the front door, and take part of the staff, promising to put them on the payroll at the end of the state of alarm, ”he explained to this medium. a source familiar with the situation last spring. He also assured that Albert Rivera appeared in Seville in the midst of the state of alarm for “a clandestine meeting” related to this operation.

His fame among many former workers is bad or very bad, as Andalucía has repeatedly confirmed. It is common for them to end up denouncing the firm, or the firm to them, once their contract ends. This medium knows several cases. It has also been denounced on several occasions before the Bar Association, for aspects such as its exclusivity clause (which prevents it from practicing in the same territory once the contract has ended) or its commercial practices.

A millionaire contract in the middle of an ERTE

Shortly after Rivera and Villegas landed, in the middle of the first wave of the pandemic, this outlet published that the workers were carrying out face-to-face work by express order of the management, unlike most offices. “There is an interview with Albert Rivera saying that thank God he is teleworking. It is nauseating hypocrisy,” a worker who lives with a person at risk protested to this medium at the time.

Another of the complaints in recent times has been, precisely, that the firm undertook an ERTE for “productive reasons” while executing an ambitious expansion strategy, which included the opening of an office in Madrid and the signing of Rivera, Villegas and several more partners from other firms. The ERTE was challenged in court, which validated it.

As this media reported, from April 2020 to June 2021 the office kept dozens of workers in ERTE, whose unemployment benefit was assumed (70% or 50%) by Social Security, while boasting in the growth media and incorporations. “Those who are in ERTE should be glad that we in Madrid are incorporating people, because those people are largely the reason that they can keep their jobs,” Vicente Morato told this media at the time, in front of an office that then made flag of his signing changing the name to Martínez-Echevarría & Rivera.