Since President Enrique Peña Nieto’s key liberalising reforms began in 2013, the country has faced a host of economic challenges. The value of the peso has dropped, recording a low of 19.51 to the US dollar, and the price of oil has plummeted, starting 2016 trading at just under US$30 a barrel. These issues have not deterred the Mexican government from focusing on its reforms and the country’s potential for investment. As an assertive Peña Nieto announced recently: “This is not the time to stop. It is the time to move forward.” This progressive attitude has led to the development of important infrastructure projects across the country, particularly in the energy sector, as well as the transport industry where the US$9 billion expansion of Mexico City Airport has been the most notable feature. The legal market has also diversified, with an increasing number of foreign law firms establishing a presence in the country in anticipation of an influx of investment from overseas. However, local firms maintain their dominance in the market with their strong domestic knowledge and expertise proving invaluable as ever.
Mexico City is undoubtedly the country’s legal hub and home to 95 per cent of our listings. Its other business centres, including Juárez, Tijuana and Monterrey also feature, with many large firms establishing a presence outside of the capital. Being an open legal market, the presence of foreign firms in Mexico is well established: Baker & McKenzie has been active in the market since 1961 and now has five offices across the country. As Peña Nieto’s legislative reforms continue and are expected to attract great investment from abroad, it is unsurprising that foreign firms are seeing this as an ideal time to establish a presence in the country. It is a trend reflected in our research, with the number of foreign players increasing from last year.
These firms are focusing on expanding not only key industry offerings, but also their corporate and financial capabilities, as project work and deals in the telecoms and energy sectors increase. M&A and governance, banking, corporate tax and project finance are the most heavily populated chapters in this edition, reflecting the current key areas of focus for practitioners. Capital markets work is also gaining prominence in Mexico, as the government seeks out alternative sources of capital in order to finance infrastructure projects throughout the country. At the end of 2015, the administration announced its intentions to develop innovative new financial instruments as a means of increasing capital flow into projects across various sectors including energy and transport. In September 2016, Jones Day advised the Mexico City Airport Trust on a US$2 billion bond offering to finance its development, while the offering’s global coordinators HSBC, JP Morgan and Citigroup instructed Galicia Abogados as local counsel.
As is clear with such deals, local expertise is valuable to clients and it is something that new market entrants are looking to adopt. For example, in 2015, Mayer Brown set up its first Latin American office in Mexico City, and has since gone on to expand its energy and projects offering, most recently hiring Ariel Ramos from Haynes and Boone. Examples of this approach have been regularly seen: In 2015, Greenberg Traurig absorbed corporate finance firm Raz Guzmán; Haynes and Boone bolstered its tax expertise hiring Edgar Klee from Mexican boutique Ortiz Sainz y Erreguerena; White & Case recently hired ex-federal government official Francisco de Rosenzweig Mendialdua; meanwhile former general counsel to the Ministry of the Economy Carlos Véjar joined Holland & Knight’s international trade practice.
However, lateral moves to international law firms have not yet disturbed the status quo; it will take a lot more to have a serious impact on the entrenched position of Mexico’s national full-service firms. Indeed, the top five firms in our research are all Mexican, rather than international, outfits, achieving over a quarter of the listings in this edition; in contrast, foreign outfits occupy approximately 10 per cent of our listings. These outfits, including Ritch Mueller Heather y Nicolau and González Calvillo, stand out for their strong core practices. The former demonstrates its excellent banking and finance offering and the latter its corporate expertise in this edition. The top Mexican firms develop young talent to a high standard, often sending associates to practise in the US, ensuring that they are experienced in handling large-scale transactions and have the ability to adapt to the increasingly complex financial transactions underpinning the market.
Thirteen practitioners are among the top litigators focusing on administrative law matters and related disputes between entities and government authorities.
By Fernando de Salvidea de Miguel and Rocío González-Alcántara Lammoglia of De Salvidea y González Alcántara
Effective judicial protection against arbitrary actions of any government is an ideal that every state should aspire to fulfil. Although, in Mexico, the very idea of the rule of law generates varied responses, such system cannot exist without some basic elements that allow an adequate system of justice – one that should be easy to access and free of unnecessary formalities.
Seventeen practitioners are highlighted in this chapter for their standout work sitting as arbitrator or acting as counsel, be it on an institutional or ad hoc basis, in commercial and investment treaty disputes.
Thirteen lawyers are listed in this year’s chapter for their expertise in aviation finance and leasing, disputes, and protection and indemnity cases among others.
Thirty-six lawyers are recognised in this chapter, with proven expertise in representing financial institutions and their corporate clients in either a regulatory and transactional capacity.
Nine leading practitioners are identified in this chapter for their excellent work representing and advising issuers, underwriters, investment banks, funds, REITs and other market participants on all aspects of domestic and international capital markets transactions.
This chapter identifies 22 leading commercial litigators, who regularly appear before all levels of the courts in Mexico.
We list 17 standout lawyers for their competition expertise. They handle an array of complex investigations, litigation and transactional work in the area.
Fifteen practitioners are recognised in this chapter for their expertise in construction and real estate law, including financing, public procurement, and regulatory and compliance issues in both the public and private sector.
In this chapter, we recognise five leading lawyers that excel in assisting corporates with gaining permits and visas for skilled foreign workers.
Thirty-four leading practitioners are highlighted for their impressive advisory and contentious corporate tax work.
In this chapter, a total of 15 lawyers are recognised with a proven track record in representing and advising energy companies and financiers involved in the exploration, production, marketing and transportation of all types of energy, including oil, gas, nuclear and renewables.
In this chapter, we identify 17 lawyers that stand out for their expertise in the sector. These lawyers will provide environment advice to clients in transactional, litigation and regulatory matters such as compliance, strategic planning, environmental due diligence, liability and deal structuring.
Mexican Federal Law of Environmental Responsibility, by Sergio B Bustamante of Counselors International Abogados
Six leading practitioners are identified for their exceptional work handling regulatory and commercial franchise matters for clients both in the country and abroad.
The following seven individuals selected advise public authorities and private sector clients in relation to issues surrounding public procurement, from drafting and structuring procurement bids and PPP contracts to bid challenge and disputes arising from such arrangements.
Four practitioners are listed for their expertise in this area.
We select 25 names in this chapter as being among the leading lights in IP law, including trademark, patent and copyright enforcement and anti-counterfeiting, as well as for the commercialisation of IP rights. Below we highlight the most highly regarded individuals and firms.
We recognise 25 practitioners with proven track records in representing and advising on a variety of matters relating to labour and employment law.
In this chapter we recognise six leading individuals, who standout for the high quality of their work in the life sciences sector. Select practitioners offer a variety of expertise, including IP, regulatory and transactional expertise.
In this chapter, we recognise 37 of the country’s leading corporate practitioners. The lawyers identified will have significant experience advising corporates on all legal aspects relating to M&A transactions, as well as advising corporate executives on governance issues.
This chapter identifies 13 leading practitioners, who provide counsel and representation to companies operating across the mining sector, and may have specific expertise relating to, among others, dirt law, native title law, mine financing and leasing.
In this chapter, we recognise the country’s leading practitioners servicing private equity funds and their managers. Five experts are identified.
We list 29 project finance experts who are renowned in the market for their expertise in major public infrastructure projects as well as enterprises in the energy, hospitality and healthcare sectors.
We list 13 excellent practitioners in this section for their expertise in the full range of bankruptcy, restructuring and insolvency work.
Seventeen practitioners are listed in this chapter for their expertise in IT, media and telecoms law. Selected practitioners will be market-leading in a range of matters, including data protection, e-commerce, outsourcing, licensing and telecoms regulations.
Sixteen practitioners are recognised in this chapter, covering international trade, WTO law, export control and customs law issues. Below we highlight some of the most highly regarded individuals.
Founded in 1912, Basham Ringe y Correa has grown into one Mexico’s leading full-service firms and counts prominent domestic and international corporates among its client base, including Fortune 500 companies, financial institutions and medium-sized regional corporates. The firm’s success in the Mexican market rests, in part, on its well-established core practices, with large dedicated teams that can handle the largest and most complex matters to involve the Mexican market. The firm achieves listings in 14 chapters across this guide, which highlights the breadth of expertise on offer. As attested by our research, the firm is particularly strong in the areas of M&A and governance, corporate tax, labour law and IP.
Creel García-Cuéllar Aiza y Enríquez is a firm with a deep pedigree for legal practice. The firm has operated in Mexico for more than 80 years and its two offices in Mexico City and Monterrey continue to provide clients with high-quality representation. Lawyers from the firm come recommended across 12 practice areas in WWL: Mexico 2017, making it one of the leading names in our research this year.
Galicia Abogados is one of Mexico’s most respected law firms. Originally focused on banking, securities and M&A matters, the firm has grown to provide specialist services relating to the financial, M&A, energy, infrastructure and regulated industries, among others. Indeed it achieves listings across nine chapters in this guide, demonstrating the breadth of expertise on offer. As a local independent firm, Galicia Abogados works extensively with a network of prominent international law firms across the United States, European, Asia and Latin America, facilitating its global presence and providing access to local business and cultural knowledge. As supported by our research, the firm is particularly applauded for its work in banking, capital markets, project finance, and M&A and governance.
González Calvillo is one of Mexico’s leading full-service law firms with a core group of 20 partners that count both national and international clients including numerous Fortune 500 companies as clients. The transactional practice at the firm stands out, especially its corporate offering, which leads our M&A and governance research. It also demonstrates a high level of expertise in franchise, construction and real estate, project finance and TMT.
Ritch Mueller Heather y Nicolau earns its status as the most prevalent law firm in our research by focusing on its transactional teams, ensuring that they are among the very strongest in the country. As a result, the firm is often the first port of call for banking and finance transactions. Outside these main areas the firm’s individual partners have developed some further specialisations, with recognition in real estate, aviation, energy and environmental mandates.
Offering excellence and integrity, Von Wobeser y Sierra SC was founded in 1986 and is one of the foremost Mexican law firms to offer full-service legal solutions. The firm is composed of more than 30 different practice areas, including specialised desks with a strong roster of international and national clients.
The firm’s lawyers are renowned for their expertise in advising and fortifying leading companies in establishing and conducting day-to-day business dealings related to entering and expanding their operations in Mexico and internationally. Von Wobeser has been recognised on an international level by various institutions, including Chambers Global, Chambers Latin America, Latin Lawyer 250, Global Arbitration Review (including the GAR 100), The Legal 500 and IFLR1000, among 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.