Chambers Latin America Awards for Excellence 2013
More than 450 guests attended the fifth Chambers Latin America Awards 2013 in Miami Beach on September 9th, 2013. The awards honoured those firms that have emerged as leaders in their jurisdictions or in their particular areas of law over the past 12 months.
Awards were given to local firms in each country and to the leading international players across the region. These awards reflected winning firms' pre-eminence in key practice areas, and highlighted notable achievements, including outstanding work, impressive strategic growth and excellence in client service.
To see the full list of 2013 nominations, click here
To see the full list of 2014 nominations, click here
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Lifetime Achievement Awards
Altamiro Boscoli, Demarest Advogados
Altamiro Boscoli is an internationally respected lawyer, best known for his broad expertise in banking and finance, capital markets, and M&A. Mr Boscoli has sat on the administration boards of a swathe of companies, and is also a former member of Lex Mundi's Board of Directors. Currently, he is a member of the Board of Charities and Civil Societies, the Inter-American Bar Association, the Brazilian Institute of Tax Law and the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce. His practice, like his education at the Universidade de São Paulo Law School and Harvard Law School, has had a strong international focus.
Humberto Pacheco Alpizar, Pacheco Coto
Senior Partner and tax specialist Humberto Pacheco currently heads the international asset planning division at Pacheco Coto. He opened the firm's Switzerland office and led its expansion into New Zealand, Spain and Central America. This international focus has also translated into a long-term interest in the development and support of business in Costa Rica. Mr Pacheco is also a founding member of the firm's corporate social responsibility vehicle, the Humberto Pacheco Coto Foundation. Further to his pre-eminent practice, Mr Pacheco has been active in the academic sphere publishing many articles, lecturing on democracy and development matters and spending a period as scholar in residence at the University of San Diego School of Law.
Outstanding Contribution to the Legal Profession
Fulvio Italiani, D'Empaire Reyna Abogados
Fulvio Italiani is a top-flight corporate specialist and a leading light in the Venezuelan legal market. His business skills and legal expertise have been of great benefit to national and multinational companies investing in the challenging economic climate of Venezuela. He handles some of the largest financing and M&A deals in the country. Mr Italiani received his ID from the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello in Caracas before workin as an associate in the New York office of Skadden, Arps, Meagher, & Flom. He is particularly celebrated for his dedication to his clients and his ability to find creative solutions to the most challenging problems.
Latin America Law Firm of the Year
Marval, O’Farrell & Mairal
Marval, O'Farrell & Mairal is internationally renowned for its prowess in high-end corporate work. It is home to some of the most brilliant legal minds in Latin America and has proved immune to the difficult economic climate, going instead from strength to strength. It is a firm that can be relied on to engage actively and tirelessly on behalf of its clients, and which has consistently shows intself to be of the highest calibre.
National Law Firms of the Year
Argentina Law Firm of the Year
Marval, O’Farrell & Mairal
This legal powerhouse, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, has proven immune to the difficult economic climate and has gone from strength to strength. Marval, O’Farrell & Mairal has top-notch capabilities with expertise across a number of sectors that include, but are not limited to, corporate M&A, agribusiness, international trade, tax and intellectual property. The firm's size, established presence and recognised expertise see it handle a diverse range of matters for high-profile clients such as Arre Beef, KP Chemical Corp, Alpargatas and Alto Paraná, Adecoagro. In two key examples from the firm's many work highlights, the firm has recently represented importer Klöckner Pentaplast de Argentina in an anti-dumping investigation into US PVC, and also advised Mead Johnson Nutrition regarding the acquisition of 80% of SanCor Bebé.
Bolivia Law Firm of the Year
Moreno Baldivieso Estudio de Abogados
Moreno Baldivieso Estudio de Abogados is a seasoned, family-run firm with a full-service outlook. The firm enjoys an elevated national reputation for its expertise in corporate, IP, real estate and labour matters, and has a strong offering in dispute resolution and tax. One of the larger firms in Bolivia, it also has offices in Cochabamba, La Paz, Potosí, Santa Cruz, Sucre and Tarija. The firm advises a mainly international client portfolio that includes Credit Suisse, Samsung Engineering and Constructora Odebrecht Sucursal. In a recent standout matter from the corporate arena, the firm has advised the Netherlands Development Finance Company in a multi-jurisdictional syndicated loan facility.
Brazil Law Firm of the Year
Mattos Filho, Veiga Filho, Marrey Jr. e Quiroga Advogados
Preceded by its pre-eminent reputation, this firm stands out for its strength in the capital markets and related areas such as tax, insurance and corporate/M&A. With offices in the USA in addition to in a number of key cities throughout Brazil, it is well placed to advise its active roster of international clients such as BP, Chevron, Shell, Odontoprev and Odebrecht. The capital markets team handles some of the largest equity offerings in the country, and is known for its international outlook and deep expertise. Mattos Filho, Veiga Filho, Marrey Jr. e Quiroga Advogados also has a market-leading reputation for its expertise in oil and gas matters, and has recently advised Rosneft in its acquisition of 100% of the interest in TNK-BP.
Central America Law Firm of the Year
Consortium - Centro América Abogados
The largest of the regional firms, Consortium Centro América Abogados has a bench of 160 lawyers across six jurisdictions and ten offices. The firm is at the vanguard of a number of practice areas, among them corporate, dispute resolution and tax. Furthermore, the banking and finance practice is particularly impressive, and in a representative work highlight the firm advised Scotiabank El Salvador regarding two credit of USD7 million and USD17 million respectively for investment in the Princess Group's regional operations.
Chile Law Firm of the Year
Philippi, Yrarrázaval, Pulido & Brunner
One of Chile's leading firms, Philippi, Yrarrázaval, Pulido & Brunner dominates the market in a variety of areas of law, and also attracts particular praise for the high levels of client service it provides. The full-service group has a pre-eminent reputation in corporate and finance matters, and recently advised Embotelladora Andina in its merger with Embotelladoras Coca-Cola Polar. Environmental law has recently been a particularly active area for the firm, and this has seen it provide legal support to a number of clients in a variety of mining projects, in addition to assisting Methanex regarding a methanol plant in Punta Arenas.
Colombia Law Firm of the Year
The firm is a long-standing leader in the Colombian legal market, and is known for a blend of legal acumen and corporate knowledge that places it at the vanguard of areas such as banking and finance, corporate/M&A, energy, projects and real estate. In a recent energy highlight, the firm advised Trafigure in a crude and fuel export programme. The firm also advises a number of government agencies, such as the Asociacion Nacional de Hidrocarburos, who the firm has advised regarding the agency's analysis of alternatives for trading of crude oil royalties.
Costa Rica Law Firm of the Year
Insurance, real estate and corporate/M&A are BLP’s strongest suits, but the full-service firm also has a solid reputation in a host of other practice areas such as labour and employment, TMT and IP. In a corporate highlight, the firm represented Grupo Gollo in its acquisition by Unicomer. The firm has also advised Securitas regarding its acquisition of Costa Rican security service provider CSS International. Multinationals with Costa Rican and regional interests turn to the firm for regular day-to-day advice, and the team counts names such as BASF, GDF SUEZ, Siemens and UPS among its regular clients.
Dominican Republic Law Firm of the Year
Pellerano & Herrera
The Dominican member of the Lex Mundi network's main strength lies in complex transactional matters, which it handles for predominantly international clients. This expertise is coupled with the firm's market-leading role in real estate and tourism matters, resulting in a formidable market player. Recently, the firm acted for Dominican hotel chain Amhsa Marina in the sale of the chain's holding companies to Irish and Canadian investors. Pellerano & Herrera also provides day-to-day advice to Barrick Gold regarding the operations of the Pueblo Viejo mining project. In a related matter, the firm has also defended Barrick Gold in a USD100 million lawsuit brought against the company by a family claiming ownership of part of the real estate used in the Pueblo Viejo mining project.
Ecuador Law Firm of the Year
Pérez, Bustamante & Ponce
Pérez Bustamante & Ponce is one of the largest firms in Ecuador and enjoys a long-standing reputation as a legal powerhouse at the forefront of the corporate arena. The firm also has a market-leading reputation in a range of other sectors such as dispute resolution, real estate, tax, corporate and natural resources. Of late, the firm has advised Nutreco International in its acquisition of feed company Grigis; advised the local Zara concessionaire, Macromoda, regarding its set-up in Ecuador and relationship with the firm's Spanish counterpart; and advised Procter & Gamble regarding the re-engineering of their distribution contracts in Ecuador.
El Salvador Law Firm of the Year
Arias & Muñoz
This regional presence features highly in the Salvadoran market and is particularly renowned for its transactional and cross-border prowess. As such, the group is one of the leading firms for banking and finance and corporate matters. This has seen Arias & Muñoz advise Suramericana, the purchaser of Aseguradora Suize Salvadoreña, regarding the regulatory process before both the antitrust and financial systems superintendencies. The group has also recently assisted Decameron in the company's securitisation in order to place it on the stock market.
Guatemala Law Firm of the Year
Consortium - Centro América Abogados
The Guatemalan outpost of this regional firm enjoys an outstanding reputation across a number of sectors, particularly for its work in the banking and finance arena. The firm frequently advises financial institutions in transactional matters, such as Bancolombia in its acquisition of 40% of Banco Agromercantil de Guatemala; Deutsche Bank in its acquisition of treasury bonds issued by the Republic of Guatemala; and Citigroup Global Markets in the acquisition of bonds issued by the Central America Bottling Corporation. Furthermore, the group enjoys a stellar reputation in the corporate/M&A, dispute resolution, intellectual property and tax sectors.
Honduras Law Firm of the Year
Aguilar Castillo Love
The Honduran outpost of this regional power is best known for its ability to handle complex transactional matters, particularly those involving energy and natural resources, projects, finance and real estate. The firm advises its predominantly multinational clientele such as Deutsche Bank, Bank of America, General Electric and Goldcorp on a broad remit of matters, often with a cross-border element. In a recent highlight, the group advised Bamboo Finance regarding the its acquisition of a controlling interest in a private equity fund, Acción Investments in Microfinance. In addition to its strong corporate reputation, the firm also stands out for its dispute resolution practice.
Mexico Law Firm of the Year
Galicia Abogados, S.C.
Galicia's expertise in banking, corporate, energy and associated projects makes this firm the first choice for a number of multinationals and domestic clients that are seeking top-level advice in complex, often cross-border mandates. Recent key mandates have seen the firm act as counsel to sponsor InterGen regarding the Energía San Luis de la Paz and Compresión de Altamira project. Regarding the firm's corporate work, the team has represented HSBC Seguros in the sale of its P&C portfolio to AXA Seguros; Cinemex in the acquisition of Cinemas Lumiere; and Vasconia in its acquisition of Almexa Aluminio.
Nicaragua Law Firm of the Year
Consortium - Centro América Abogados
The Nicaraguan office of this regional behemoth has a reputation that places it among the top of both the local and regional market. The firm boasts a top-notch offering in a variety of practice areas that include corporate, transactional, litigation and arbitration, and real estate. Furthermore, the firm has a strong reputation in the areas of energy and natural resources and intellectual property. In a recent IP mandate, the firm, which has offices in Managua and León, handled the registration of 72 new trade marks for the retail corporation WalMart. Within the corporate practice, the firm handles acquisitions, antitrust, financing and litigation across practice areas.
Panama Law Firm of the Year
Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee
The firm is one of Panama's most prestigious and boasts a broad bench of expertise that includes an outstanding reputation in offshore work. Projects is another area in which the firm enjoys a pre-eminent reputation, and the firm has recently been advising the consortium Grupo Unidos por el Canal on all matters relating to the Panama Canal Expansion Project, including a collective negotiation for nearly 6,000 construction workers. Elsewhere, the firm has assisted the Bank of Nova Scotia regarding a credit agreement with Canacol Energy Colombia; advised Julius Bär on its acquisition of Merrill Lynch's Panamanian operations; and advised London & Regional in its master development of Panama Pacifico Special Economic Area.
Paraguay Law Firm of the Year
Estudio Jurídico Gross Brown
The firm is a finance powerhouse and counts names such as HSBC Paraguay, The World Bank, Grupo BBVA and Citigroup amongst its clients. Moreover, in addition to its stellar banking practice the firm is also a key name in corporate and commercial matters, and has been active advising clients involved in infrastructure projects. Recently, the firm has advised the Central Bank of Paraguay in the restructuring of a troubled financial entity, and the Inter-American Development Bank and Corporación Andina de Fomento regarding the financing of a cement industrial plan, quarry and port.
Peru Law Firm of the Year
Estudio Echecopar - Member Firm of Baker & McKenzie
This firm dominates the Peruvian legal market and enjoys a market-leading reputation across a number of sectors such as banking and finance, M&A and projects. The group also enjoys a strong reputation in a swathe of other sector areas, and has a truly international reach thanks to its alliance with Baker & McKenzie. Recently, the firm has counselled Corporación Andina de Fomento and the New York branch of Natixis regarding a USD55 million loan for the financing of the Parque Eólico Marcona wind farm; advised Peru's largest transmission line operator, Red de Energia del Perú, regarding its bond issuance; and assisted Latin America Power Peru in its acquisition of 76% of Hidroeléctrica Santa Cruz and 85% of Empresa De Generación Junin.
Puerto Rico Law Firm of the Year
McConnell Valdés LLC
McConnell Valdés is Puerto Rico's largest firm and a prominent force in the market. The firm fields a broad bench that offers outstanding expertise in a glut of areas that include corporate law, IP and environment. Over the last year, the team has advised Liberty Global regarding its financing and subsequent purchase of a local cable company, San Juan Cable; assisted Gestamp in the development of a 23.4 MW wind generating facility; and represented Universal Music Group in an action filed against it for allegedly unpaid royalties. In addition to its office in San Juan, the firm has an office in Washington DC which provides it with considerable international reach.
Uruguay Law Firm of the Year
Guyer & Regules
The Uruguayan member of Lex Mundi and legal powerhouse is a go-to name for many international and national companies seeking outstanding advice across a broad range of practice areas. During the previous year, the team has represented Total and Tullow regarding the appropriate tax structure for the bidding for Ronda Uruguay II and ensuring compliance of the contract. The group has also advised TGLT in its purchase of a waterfront plot of land for the development of a residential apartments project, and represented Grupo Fortuny in a power purchase agreement of wind energy with UTE.
Venezuela Law Firm of the Year
Norton Rose Fulbright
The firm has been a presence in the market for over 15 years and has seen rapid growth during that time, establishing itself as one of the stand-out players in the Venezuelan legal scene. Energy, labour, tax and corporate transactional matters are areas in which the firm excels. The group's roster of sovereign and international clients are also impressed by the firm's financial, real estate and antitrust knowledge. By way of work highlights, recently the firm has represented Exterran in its transfer of assets to PDVSA Gas, and acted for Abbott Laboratories in a case of underpaid social benefits.
International Counsel in Latin America Awards by Practice Area
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is frequently involved in the region’s biggest transactions, and is renowned for both its broad bench and high-quality advice. The global firm has an office in São Paulo which, along with the New York office, handles the firm's wide-ranging Latin-American matters. In a recent M&A highlight, the firm advised Mitsubishi Corporation in its acquisition of a minority stake in Los Grobo Ceagro do Brasil. The firm has also represented Aceco with the sale of 48% of the company's capital stock to General Atlantic, and represented Mercantil Colpatria in the company's sale of 51% of Banco Colpatria's shares to The Bank of Nova Scotia.
Corporate & Finance (Florida-based)
Greenberg Traurig, LLP
Greenberg Traurig, LLP advises clients such as Volaris and Watsco on all manner of corporate and transactional matters. While the office has a strong Mexican presence, it also handles matters throughout the Latin-American jurisdictions, principally from either the firm's founding Miami office or its Mexico City branch, and has 35 other locations globally upon which to draw if necessary. Recently, the firm has advised Vinte Viviendas Integrales regarding a revolving loan agreement and also in the issuance of secured debt securities on the Mexican Stock Exchange.
Shearman & Sterling LLP
Shearman & Sterling is at the forefront of Latin American finance. The firm handles work throughout the region, co-ordinated from the firm's São Paulo and US offices, and has been developing a focus on Asian companies seeking to invest in Latin America. In a recent standout case, the team has represented SC International Macao Commercial Offshore as borrower in a USD470 million export prepayment facility with Bahia Specialty Cellulose. The group has also acted on behalf of the International Finance Corporation in connection to an A/B loan to Empresas Públicas de Medellín.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP
This international powerhouse is an undisputed leader in the field for its international arbitration work. The firm handles matters for corporations, governments and multinationals that have invested in Latin America, and has a strong focus on matters involving energy and public utilities. Recently, the firm has represented the Bureau Veritas in an arbitration hearing against the Republic of Paraguay, and the Republic of Guatemala in a claim brought against it by Iberdrola Energíá regarding the bilateral investment treaty.
Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP
Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy is a player at the forefront of the Latin-American project financing market, with expertise across a swathe of industries. The firm, which has a stellar reputation, handles sophisticated transactional matters from its Brazilian hub and in conjunction with its other global offices. Over the last year, the firm has been particularly active, highlights of which have included representing Mizuho Corporate Bank, WestLB and Korea Export-Import Bank as lenders in a USD547 million loan for the financing of a deepwater drilling rig; USJ Acucar e Alcool regarding an export prepayment facility; and a group of international lenders in the financing of the Chihuahua gas transmission pipeline project.
Client Service Awards
Regional Client Service Award
Baker & McKenzie
There were many contenders for the Regional Client Service award. Baker & McKenzie is a firm that is able to combine its international workload with local sensitivity. Its client care comes in for high praise:
“The team understands the international dimensions of the transactions we are involved in and has the local expertise. This is a great asset for us.”
Barbosa, Müssnich & Aragão
Barbosa, Müssnich & Aragão is as much known for its client service and creative problem solving as it is for its top-level competition and antitrust advice, and a stellar corporate practice that is well-equipped to handle high-value, complex matters. Several corporate law highlights have seen the team advise CIBE Investimentos e Participações in the creation of a joint venture with Autostrade per l'Italia, in addition to assisting Companhia de Tecidos Norte de Minas in a corporate reorganisation. The firm has also recently further consolidated its full-service offering with the strengthening of its telecoms and technology law department.
One source told us: "The team gives us top-quality advice and unparalleled attention - we always have direct access to the senior partners." They added: "Their technical knowledge is second to none and they deliver great results every time."
Arias & Muñoz
The pre-eminent operation has a team of nearly 130 lawyers and is a frequent port of call for high-end multinationals seeking legal advice at a regional level. The firm has an office in each Central-American capital, while Costa Rica and Honduras each boast an additional office, and is particularly known for its international co-ordination capabilities. Arias & Muñoz has real strength in corporate, banking, and energy and natural resources, and this broad range of expertise makes it a key point of call for client such as Citibank, who the firm has acted as counsel to regarding the financing of Puma Energy.
Clients have consistently highlighted its high standards of service and say:"They are timely, efficient and always attentive to what we ask of them. Their service is excellent and their advice always wise and on the mark."
A seasoned leader in an impressive range of practice areas, Carey continues to dominate the legal market in Chile. The firm, which is the largest in the country, is a go-to name for both national and international clients, and is hailed not only for its size and associated coverage but also for the high quality of its client service. In a banking highlight, the team has advised BBVA in matters relating to its USD1.521 billion sale of the company's controlling stake in AFP Provida to Metlife. Energy is one of the multiple areas in which Carey are at the vanguard, and the firm has recently assisted Inkia Energy acquire a 92.8% stake in the Tierra Amarilla thermoelectric power plant from the Southern Cross Group.
One client said: "The team is extremely dedicated to us as a client and to meeting our deadlines and requirements. They are available at all times, which adds significant value to their services."
Gómez-Pinzón Zuleta is an established presence in the legal market, and enjoys a reputation for its creative, problem-solving approach and undisputed client service. The firm's calling cards are its banking and finance, corporate/M&A and dispute resolution practices. In a recent standout matter, the team acted as lead counsel to Hocol, the subsidiary of Ecopetrol in an international commercial arbitration matter. The group advises predominantly international clients with business interests in Colombia, such as JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse.
One client said: "The lawyers at this firm are not just good technical lawyers, but also very skilled at negotiating and understanding how to get the best deal for the client."
Pacheco Coto has long enjoyed an established international outlook with offices in Spain, Switzerland and New Zealand. However, it has recently undergone large-scale expansion closer to its Costa Rican stronghold with the opening of offices in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. The firm has an established reputation for excellent client service, and is best-known for its stellar tax, asset and estate planning. Moreover, the firm also boasts equally excellent real estate and corporate knowledge. Of late, the team has advised Burger King in a master franchise joint venture that acquired 178 restaurants throughout Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. In terms of real estate mandates, the group has particular expertise in condominium law, and recently advised Desarrollos HBQ regarding a high-end residential and commercial project.
Clients singled out this firm because: "The work they do is excellent. The team is effective and deliver good results. Its extraordinary ability to co-ordinate international work is based on its long-standing expertise."
Miranda & Amado Abogados
The firm's broad expertise and excellent client service make it one of the key names in Peru. Banking and finance is a particular area of expertise for the group, who recently advised Credicorp/Grupo Crédito regarding the creation and licensing of Peru's first investment bank. Regulatory matters are another area in which the firm has an outstanding reputation, as is labour and employment. This is complemented by the group's expertise in the energy sector, particularly in power but also in oil, gas and mining. In a related highlight, the team has advised Gas Natural de Lima y Callo on matters relating to rate-fixing procedures.
Here’s a quote – direct from a client – to illustrate how this top firm excels:"The level of the team's expertise is excellent, as is the response time. I am very satisfied with the quality of the work, the understanding the lawyers have of me and the personalised service they deliver."