The market had a strong start to 2012 with GDP increasing by 4.6 per cent, and at the time of writing it remains steady, with experts predicting the overall year’s growth to be 3.6 per cent. This continued expansion is based, in part, on Mexico’s significant trading relationship with the US, foreign investment and the emergence of developing industries. The future continues to look bright for Mexico with the IMF predicting GDP growth to rise by 4.1 per cent in 2013.
The country had an eventful political year with a general election held in July 2012. President Felipe Calderón was replaced by Enrique Peña Nieto from the Institutional Revolutionary Party. The election itself was surrounded by controversy but, after a ruling from Mexico’s Federal Electoral Tribunal, Mr Peña Nieto is now the undisputed president elect and takes power on the 1 December 2012. The political uncertainty during the first half of the year had a knock-on effect on shareholder confidence and the number of M&A deals in Mexico fell slightly. We have seen a corresponding drop in the number of M&A lawyers with only 43 practitioners included in this edition, compared to 45 in 2011.
Mexico has a strong position in the automobile, aviation, tourism and natural resources industries. It has a booming automobile market with Volkswagon, Nissan, Renault, Toyota and Audi all opening new plants in recent years to take advantage of the country’s excellent trade links, preferential tariffs and cheap labour. It has also been an excellent year for the aviation industry: according to the Ministry of Communications and Transportation, domestic air travel has significantly increased since 2011 with international travel also seeing a rise in passenger numbers. Mexico remains the top international destination for US tourists, and it seems this trend is likely to continue following the launch of Interjet’s new route that directly connects New York and Mexico City. Tourism is also increasing in the southern states of Mexico as tourists flock to the area to mark the official end of the Mayan calendar in December. The Mexican Tourist Board estimated that 52 million tourists will have visited this region during 2012. As the Mexican aviation market develops in complexity, lawyers have an increasingly demanding role and, given this dramatic increase in workload, it is no surprise that our list of aviation lawyers has seen a corresponding upturn. We now feature 10 superb lawyers in our aviation chapter. Mexico also boasts one of the best environmental policies in the world and renewable energy is a large emerging industry. In June 2012, Calderón signed a law giving tough deadlines for tackling climate change. The legislation aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2020 and 50 per cent by 2050, and sets out that 35 per cent of Mexico’s energy will be generated by renewable energy sources by 2024. This process has already had a strong start as Calderón opened the largest wind farm in Latin America in March 2012. We have included three more environmental lawyers this year, reflecting the development of this prominent industry.
Mexico was affected by the global slump in foreign direct investment during 2012 but its strong economy, trade links and cheap wages have maintained its position as a hotspot for foreign ventures. It is a key platform for trade with South America after signing the Pacific Alliance, a free trade agreement (FTA) between Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico, in June 2012. Mexico also has strong links with the US, Europe and China although an FTA with Brazil has not yet been agreed. Mexico’s IMMEX programme has helped bolster the economy although its frequently changing regulations mean that customs lawyers need to stay on top of their game. The trade and customs legal market is a fast growing area and we focus on the 11 top practitioners in this edition.
Project finance is also a thriving area for lawyers. Calderón promised many infrastructure developments at the beginning of his term in office and some of these projects have materialised despite the financial crisis which hit Mexico in 2008-2009 – for example, the Baluarte Bridge, which was opened in January 2012 as part of the Durango–Mazatlán highway. One of the most significant developments in the project finance field is legislation introducing public-private partnerships (PPP) as a new financing tool for public projects. It is hoped that the new legislation will encourage the country’s infrastructure development as it makes private investment in public projects easier and adds certainty for investors. This increase in project finance is demonstrated in our research which includes 26 lawyers this year, an increase of six individuals since 2011. The introduction of PPP has helped create a new field of legal specialism and we have identified eight fantastic lawyers to be included in our new chapter on Mexican public procurement.
Our top-ranking firms are all founded in Mexico and are filled with home-grown talent, making it difficult for international firms to get a foothold. It seems that our respondents put great store in local knowledge. However there has been a recent surge in interest from prominent US law firms such as Greenberg Traurig LLP, Littler Mendelson and DLA Piper which all opened offices in the country in early 2012, confirming foreign confidence in Mexico’s growing marketplace. The Mexican legal market has gone from strength to strength during the last year and promises to keep up with all of the exciting developments that Mexico has to offer.
Arbitration remains an attractive form of dispute resolution in Mexico. As the legal market evolves to keep pace with international trends, more and more commercial parties are recognising the benefits of having conflicts dealt with by an expert arbitration forum. Our research highlights 19 practitioners, selected for their excellence and experience in domestic and international arbitrations for a wide range of corporate and commercial parties.
Mexico has a booming aviation sector. The country now has the second largest share of available airline seat capacity in Latin America after seeing an 8 per cent rise in domestic traffic over the last four years. With Mexican airlines working hard to expand their international reach, it seems the future is bright for this flourishing industry. In this chapter, we list 10 “superb” aviation lawyers who are all “well known” for their “technical expertise and client focus”.
According to the IMF’s March 2012 report, Mexico’s banking sector was hit hard in the financial crisis, with economic activity falling in 2009 and financial markets experiencing a significant dip. However, effective fiscal management and good public administration has led to a strong recovery in the sector, and continued positive bilateral relations with the US have resulted in a productive foreign investment regime. Lawyers expect the financial recovery to accelerate as the government proposes reforms to develop Mexico’s capital markets. The banking legal market is relatively competitive, say our sources, but with clear leaders in the field, 30 of whom we list below.
Mexican regulators have demonstrated their determination to clamp down on corruption and business crime this year, imposing a fine on HSBC for not having sufficient anti-money laundering controls – reportedly the largest fine ever imposed by the Mexican regulator. Despite this, bribery remains a central concern and high-profile corruption cases have been exposed. Mexico’s incoming President Peña Nieto has vowed to continue the fight against corruption and bribery and this renewed focus is expected to increase activity for lawyers in the field in the coming year. In this chapter four lawyers are selected for their expertise.
Capital markets work continues to stream fairly steadily into Mexico partly encouraged by the recent election results and an increase in investment flows due to the cheap peso. Our research demonstrates that overall the capital markets have not remained untouched by the global financial malaise with 21 lawyers being selected for their capital markets work, three less than in our previous edition.
Commercial litigators have seen a wide range of work over the past year. A key trend is that large banks are involved in litigation more often, partly as a reaction to financial difficulty across the globe. Our research highlights 20 lawyers considered exceptional for their work in this field.
Competition law in Mexico has boomed over the last year, due to the new 2011 regulations. As well as expanding the range of conduct which is deemed anti-competitive, the reform greatly increased the investigatory and sanctioning powers of the Federal Competition Commission (FCC). Compliance is now a critical issue for clients, and lawyers must be prepared to provide accurate advice and flexible solutions in order to keep one step ahead of the changing regulations. The increase of work in this practice area is reflected in the increased number of competition lawyers listed in this chapter – this year we feature 20 practitioners.
The following 15 lawyers have been chosen for their expertise in advising companies boards and directors on regulatory and compliance matters.
Corporate immigration lawyers continue to benefit from a steady stream of work for companies wanting to establish a presence in the lucrative Mexican market. The government has recently published new regulations to implement and update the 2011 immigration laws, meaning that the top practitioners can expect to be busy for the foreseeable future as the practical implications of these laws become clear. This year we feature four outstanding lawyers.
The corporate tax legal market place in Mexico has benefited from global trends that have seen an increase in work for fiscal experts. Transfer pricing, regulation and restructuring advice have been the hot topics in the country for the past year, translating into busier tax practices and a wider geographical outlook for most lawyers. We list 22 experts in this chapter.
In June 2012, Mexico enacted a law on climate change, making it the second country in the world to introduce binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the use of renewable energy. Mexico is at the forefront of environmental protection and lawyers in this field report that they are “very active” assisting clients on energy projects, mining and contaminated sites. Thirteen lawyers receive recognition for their expertise in this field.
The franchise sector in Mexico has continued to grow and several of the lawyers we spoke to indicated that this was in large part due to Mexico’s strong commercial ties to the US and a general recognition and acceptance of US brands by the Mexican population. This has translated into an expansion by US companies into the country which has kept franchise lawyers very busy. Our research demonstrates that the legal marketplace remains strong, with six lawyers recognised in this chapter.
Since 2008, lawyers have seen an increase in the amount of insolvency and restructuring deals in Mexico as volatile credit markets mean that small companies are still struggling to operate under high levels of debt and leverage. Several companies wanting to restructure are now turning to pre-packaged “concurso” consensual agreements, which have so far proved efficient. Our research highlights 10 exceptional practitioners in this busy practice area.
The growth of innovative insurance products and ancillary services in Mexico has provided plenty of work for the small group of insurance lawyers in the country. The promise of a new insurance and surety bill, hoped to reach Congress in 2013, also gives this area great potential for future expansion. This is the first year we have featured a chapter on Mexican insurance and reinsurance lawyers and we have selected two outstanding practitioners to lead the way in this emerging market.
The Mexican government signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Association agreement on 11 July 2012. This new method of enforcing IP rights in relation to digital communications technologies will certainly have an impact on the Mexican IP legal market. This year we feature 26 leading practitioners.
According to figures released by the International Telecommunication Union, 36 per cent of Mexicans are now internet users, compared with only 20 per cent in 2006. As the online population increases exponentially, so do the legal issues surrounding IT, e-commerce and data protection. Lawyers in this field are extremely active, with regulatory and privacy issues featuring strongly in the practice of multiple firms, none of which can afford to ignore the wide-ranging importance of IT law. In this chapter we feature six outstanding practitioners.
Mexico, the second largest economy in Latin America, is experiencing moderate economic growth of 3.6 per cent – expected to rise to 4 per cent in 2013, following the anticipated boost brought about by the new government. The country has seen some improvements in the labour market: lawyers reported an increase in unionisation and collective bargaining as unemployment fell by 0.6 per cent and wages increased by 0.8 per cent. This year we list 18 leading management-side labour and employment experts.
M&A activity has remained steady over the past year: the recovery of the US economy has encouraged growth in Mexico and there have been transactions reported across a wide range of industry sectors. Nevertheless, banks remain cautious when granting loans due to economic turmoil around the world. In this chapter, we feature 43 practitioners.
There is a continued international presence of mining companies in Mexico and lawyers have been kept very busy over the past year with the bulk of work staying in the hands of a small group of outstanding experts. Six mining lawyers are featured in this chapter.
The oil and gas industry in Mexico is undergoing constant change. State-run Pemex, the second largest oil company in Latin America, took a tentative step towards awarding incentive-based exploration and production contracts after 2008 reform. However, this only led to a marginal increase in production, leading to criticisms that Mexico, as the world’s seventh largest oil producer, should open itself up to more private capital in order to fully reach its potential. New President Enrique Pena Nieto has said that reform of Pemex is one of his priorities. With a lacklustre majority in government, wide-reaching change may be over-ambitious and therefore it remains to be seen to what extent the state will be prepared to relinquish control over Pemex in return for private investment and potentially greater efficiency and productivity. The liberalisation of the contracts that have already been granted by Pemex means that a different type of company is now being attracted to the Mexican market; small and medium-sized businesses have established a growing presence thanks to incentive-based exploration and production contracts. This year, our research identifies 13 lawyers who stand out in this evolving practice area.
High levels of investment in public infrastructure have kept the project finance market active this year with particular growth in alternative energy projects such as wind farms and high-capacity solar panels. With new public private partnership regulations and a steady economy, the future looks bright and Mexico is set to become a hotspot for private investment. The growth in this field is evidenced by this year’s large increase in outstanding project finance lawyers selected for inclusion in this chapter. This year we feature 26 lawyers.
Mexico is in the process of modernising its procurement system to increase efficiency and decrease the risk of corruption. In June 2012, the Mexican government passed a new federal law, making it illegal to give to a public official any type of bribe or gift for obtaining or retaining a privilege or business advantage in the area of public procurement, which applies to anyone engaged in federal government contracting. The incoming president has promised new projects in infrastructure, oil, water and transportation and activity looks set to pick up significantly over the next few months. In this chapter, we select eight leading individuals.
The Mexican real estate market is coming back following a lull caused by the recession, and the lawyers we spoke to have been very busy over the past year. Several commented on the increased amount of commercial work linked to the real estate sector as well as a growing number of development projects. We identify 29 superb practitioners who are considered experts in real estate and construction.
A major concern in the telecommunications industry in Mexico is the promotion of competition. As Telmex and sister company Telcel operate over 70 per cent of fixed-line and cellular communications networks, there are concerns that such market domination is preventing economic growth in the sector. However, an increase in companies offering integrated telecoms services, and attempts by the federal regulator to open up the market, mean that regulatory communications lawyers are kept constantly busy. We identify six leading practitioners in this chapter.
Since 1994, Mexico’s exports have increased by 475 per cent. Imports to Mexico are also on the rise, fuelled by the country’s strong trade links with South America. This strong and rapid growth requires excellent lawyers who have the brilliance and flexibility of mind to navigate the changing regulations in order to provide their clients with accurate and beneficial advice. We have identified 11 top lawyers who have the skills to handle this challenging area.
Basham Ringe y Correa SC is one of the largest full-service firms in Latin America. It provides counsel to domestic and international clients, covering a range of practice areas including real estate, banking and finance, environment, foreign trade, M&A and natural resources. In our research this year the firm features heavily in the IP, corporate tax, business crime defence and litigation chapters, a testament to its established expertise in these areas.
Creel, García-Cuéllar, Aiza y Enríquez was founded in 1936 and is a full-service corporate law firm with an established reputation within the Mexican legal marketplace for providing “responsive legal advice” and “high-quality” service to clients. The firm has offices in Mexico City and Monterrey and boasts 21 partners and 22 associates. In this edition the firm achieves an impressive 20 listings across 11 different chapters.
Established in 1994, Galicia Abogados SC has developed a reputation for excellence and is now one of the leading corporate law firms in Mexico. It has a strong focus on banking and financing matters within the energy, telecommunications, pharmaceutical and real estate industries and works with high-profile domestic and international clients. Galicia Abogados has 20 entries in this edition which span eight practice areas: a testament to the breadth and depth of its impressive expertise.
Founded over 25 years ago, González Calvillo SC has steadily but selectively grown to become a firm of 18 partners and nearly 80 lawyers in total. It has an interesting mix of both local and international clients, including several Fortune 500 companies and is a “key player” in the Mexican legal marketplace. In this edition the firm boasts 16 listings across 10 different chapters, with franchise and M&A being the sectors where it is most strongly represented.
Mijares Angoitia Cortés y Fuentes was founded in 1994 and has become one of the top law firms in Mexico City. The firm has an international reputation for being “highly committed” to meeting the needs of clients and providing “first-class advice” across the full range of corporate areas. In this edition the firm has achieved 17 listings across seven different chapters and is especially strong in the areas of M&A, banking, capital markets and real estate and construction.
Ritch Mueller is an elite Mexican law firm which specialises in transactional work in the banking and finance sectors. Established in 1975, the firm has gone from strength to strength and now boasts over 50 practitioners who work for international and domestic clients including leading investment and commercial banks. It has 20 entries in this edition across seven of our practice areas.
Santamarina y Steta SC is a traditional firm with 65 years of history in the Mexican market and is credited for having a significant role in the development of commercial firms in the country. Its core strength lies in M&A, banking, employment law and real estate. This year it enjoys 24 listings in those chapters and 10 others.
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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.