Thought Leaders: Transport 2017
Carlos Sierra is an attorney from the National Autonomous University of México and has a postgraduate degree in civil and commercial law from the Escuela Libre de Derecho. He studied international law at Duke University and the Université Libre de Bruxelles; aviation contracts law at IATA; and air and space law (LLM) at Leiden University in the Netherlands. He is currently chair of the legal advisory panel of the Aviation Working Group.
Describe your career to date.
For nearly 26 years I have been involved in aviation law: from the start of my career as in-house counsel for Mexicana Airlines to working in private practice. Throughout this time I have been deeply involved in regulatory law, aircraft leasing and finance, and litigation. To date, I am proud to represent many of the largest international cargo and passenger airlines in the world on regulatory matters; and to advise and act for the largest aircraft lessors in the world, as well as many leading banks and financiers of commercial and corporate aircraft, on structuring of complex cross-border aircraft financing, leasing and acquisition transactions. In addition, I have been involved in more than 250 contentious and non-contentious aircraft repossession proceedings – the largest number of any firm in Mexico. I have been a member of the legal advisory panel of the Aviation Working Group since 2009 and became chair in January 2016.
What attracted you to aviation law?
Aircraft, and the unique legal context within which the business of aviation is required to operate. The nature of aircraft as mobile assets that continuously cross through several jurisdictions, the legal risks and challenges associated with this, and the uniqueness of bilateralism, have fostered my interest for this challenging area of practice.
What is the greatest challenge facing aviation lawyers in Mexico?
Quality; substance; training; and knowledge. An increasingly sophisticated industry needs better legal professionals serving its needs.
What advice would you share with other practitioners who hope to one day be in your position?
To be thorough and substantial. To be punctual, timely and meaningful and to acknowledge and adapt the legal framework of local law in protection of the client’s interests. To always find a legal solution to make things work. To ensure enforceability. To mitigate risks. To study, and to be organised, responsive and disciplined. To be knowledgeable and aware. To always tell the truth. To maintain contact with the academy. To teach others how to assume responsibility. To be skilful in explaining and promoting your services. To travel the world. And above all, to be respectful of your client’s needs, time and expectations.
What is your vision for the firm over the coming year in terms of its strategy? Is the firm looking to grow in size?
We will remain devoted to the aviation industry. We expect to expand our client base and, in that respect, to maintain the growth of our team in both capacity and capability. We will focus on the training and development of every lawyer on our team. We are committed to remain one of the top aviation law firms in the world and undisputedly the standard bearer in Mexico.
How do you distinguish yourself from competitors in the market?
Our accumulated experience and client list is unmatched in Mexico. Our contacts within the industry are deep and stretch over two decades. None of our competitors represents so many aviation-industry clients in the representative areas of practice in which we provide advice. We have the largest and most knowledgeable team of aviation attorneys in the country
How does Abogados Sierra stay ahead of the competition when attracting new clients and maintaining existing relationships?
We provide comprehensive legal advice, in good and bad times and from start to finish of any transaction. We advise as transaction counsel, as well as in the enforcement of our clients’ rights when things go wrong, tailoring agreements based on previous enforcement experience. Our advice is deep and substantial: not only do we procure filing and registration of documents, we also advise on the interaction of our clients’ interests with Mexican law to ensure compliance and enforceability of their rights. We find quick, well-founded and sustainable solutions for our clients, enabling full control over their operations in complete adherence to the law and applicable regulations.