Firm Profile

Baker McKenzie (Colombia)

Colombia

International name with deep local roots

LL 250 Highly Recommended

Established: 1937

Partners: 13

Lawyers: 83

Work areas

This firm is highly recommended for services in the following work areas.

Baker McKenzie’s offering in Colombia has an international edge that singles it out from its local competitors. The long-established Colombian leg of the firm impresses with a star-studded roster of global clients which regularly enlist the firm’s transactional expertise for high-powered cross-border work. Through Baker McKenzie’s broad Latin American footprint, the firm can benefit from links to Chile, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela and Brazil, where it has a cooperation agreement with a local law firm. In Colombia though, the firm is a stand-alone success. A stellar reputation for personalised service and quick response time has propelled it to become one of the highest-ranking law firms in Colombia, which also happens to be one of Latin America’s fastest-growing economies. A global outlook and practical methodology win Baker McKenzie a sea of praise from a satisfied clientele, with one client remarking that the firm’s lawyers are “the best in their field,” while other comments that the outfit’s “highly qualified and experienced team,” is a recipe for excellence.

In addition to its transactional prowess, Baker McKenzie beats out its competitors with leading energy and antitrust practices, while its disputes lawyers can navigate complex and landmark cases with impeccable dexterity. Nevertheless, its talents really come to the fore in corporate and M&A work and the firm truly lives up to its rich reputation. In 2020, the Colombian team worked alongside counterparts at other Baker McKenzie offices in Latin America to steer the US$2.7 billion sale of Nielsen’s retailer data business. The lucrative transaction followed on from the firm’s advice to Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) in its joint purchase of utility company Electricaribe for US$1.6 billion.

With a wealth of opportunities at its doorstep, Baker McKenzie is selective when it comes to choosing which transactions it allows through the threshold. High profitability at the firm can be attributed to its choice of the most rewarding deals on the market, and its fees reflect that high standard of services. This tried and tested methodology seems to successfully steer the firm to plain sailing in choppy market conditions and the outfit continues to draw the support of affluent international clientele.

Attention to clients remains high on the firm’s list of goals, and something Baker McKenzie ensured was central to their service offering even when the covid-19 pandemic turned routine business operations on their head in 2020. Client response was top priority once the crisis struck and the firm moved to rely on top of the range communication tools which included AI-assisted technology to ensure physical distance from clients did not equate to fragmented relationships. Consistent and excellent communication is the quality most remarked by the latest client feedback. This firm’s impressive projects offering was an important draw for some of its most noteworthy clientele in 2020. They included: energy companies Shell and Braskem, as well as Chilean electricity producer AES Gener. Latin American investment group Southern Cross is an important name in the private equity sector too.

Diversity and inclusion are just as paramount to the Colombian firm as they are to Baker McKenzie globally. The wider strategy of the firm has ushered forward a 40-40-20 split that aims to ensure 40% of its workforce are women, 40% are men while the remaining 20% are split between male, female and non-binary staff. Baker McKenzie is also committed to employing members from a wide-ranging mix of backgrounds and ensuring that the top positions are filled by staff members that reflect the diverse make-up of the region. The dispute resolution area is fronted by female partners Claudia Benavides and Cristina Mejia, which is just one example of the firm’s dedication to those goals. Baker McKenzie is aware there is still a lot to be done on this front, but it is busy instilling a proactive diversity programme as one among many strides towards change.

Baker McKenzie has fought off competition from its global rivals in recent times. Iberian outfit Cuatrecasas swiped one partner from its corporate ranks in 2020, while innovative US firm Rimon Law pinched a tax partner when it launched its Colombian base. Most importantly though, Baker McKenzie knows who its competitors are, and its exclusive international brand easily allows the firm to fight its corner as healthy rivalry grows. As international players increasingly set their gaze towards Colombia’s growing potential, this is one experienced network of lawyers that knows how to maintain its position in the top ranks.

Having consolidated a broad network of partners over recent years, Baker McKenzie’s main focus in Colombia is now to broaden its horizons where there is an opportunity by building iron-clad practice areas in those fields. That is certainly a strategy it has replicated with the development of its infrastructure practice to tackle the increasing workload supplied by Colombia’s 4G programme. Meanwhile, a spike of interest in the fintech industry has also been aptly matched by the firm, with the Bogotá office of the firm closed its first fintech loan transaction in 2020. The landmark deal is likely to be the first of many to come for this forward-thinking outfit.

Offices

Given the omnipresence of Baker McKenzie’s offices worldwide, it should be no surprise that its footprint reaches far and wide across Latin America. Its Colombian offering is helmed from Bogotá, while the firm counts offices across the capital cities of Argentina, Peru and Chile. Meanwhile, its reach in Mexico stretches across an impressive five offices (Mexico City, Guadalajara, Juárez, Monterrey and Tijuana) while it counts two in Venezuela (Caracas and Valencia). Baker McKenzie’s co-operation agreement with Trench Rossi Watanabe in Brazil serves clients from Brasília, Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo,

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