Firm Profile

Cuatrecasas

International

LL 250 Highly Recommended

Work areas

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

In 2020, Cuatrecasas completed the first – big – stage of its ambitious Latin American project. Four years prior, it had set out to become a leading Latin American firm, building on its existing position as a top Iberian one. The goal was to open offices in each of the Pacific Alliance countries, a bold feat that Cuatrecasas has managed to pull off by recruiting esteemed local practitioners in each market.

The culmination of this project was the addition of nine partners across its Chile, Colombia and Mexico offices at the close of 2020, all drawn from firms recommended in this guide. They came after a further eight partners joined its ranks the year prior. If it was not already obvious, the hires make crystal clear the extent of Cuatrecasas’ commitment to Latin America. As was the case when it expanded in Peru in 2019, several of the latest hires were leading names in their respective markets and practices. Among the recruits was Roberto Guerrero – former managing partner of Chilean Latin Lawyer Elite firm Guerrero Olivos – who now leads Cuatrecasas’ corporate practice in Santiago, and Manuel Fernando Quinche – former banking and finance practice head at Colombian Latin Lawyer Elite firm Brigard Urrutia – who is now managing partner of the Bogotá office.

The addition of lawyers of such calibre has been a common thread throughout Cuatrecasas’ trajectory in Latin America. Having first-class local lawyers is a critical component of its expansion because it enables the firm to pick up high-end local work. Cherry-picking local talent, as opposed to embracing an existing firm, has arguably been a more laborious strategy but it means Cuatrecasas is now in command of the exact teams it wants in each market.

Cuatrecasas wants all four of its offices to provide services in four core practice areas: M&A, finance, litigation and arbitration and tax. Of the four, Mexico is the largest and most established. The office has grown through a mix of organic growth and lateral hiring – it added a tax partner in 2020 – and now has a sizable number of both Mexican and Spanish lawyers focusing on disputes, tax, real estate and energy work. It does a lot of work for Pemex on infrastructure projects, while Grupo Financiero Interacciones and the Inter-American Development Bank are also clients of that office.

The Peruvian, Chilean and Colombian offices are newer; of those three, the Peruvian office has succeeded in appointing talent in all four core areas, while the Chilean office is the biggest, with a strong set of corporate partners poached from Guerrero Olivos, as well as a highly prominent arbitration partner. Meanwhile, the Colombian office currently contains strong transactional lawyers. It draws on the firm’s earlier experience in that market operating under an exclusive agreement with Posse Herrera Ruiz (which ceased in 2020). In each of the Latin American offices, there are Spanish partners based full-time, a critical part of the connection between these offices and Cuatrecasas’ HQ.

Cuatrecasas says the next stage in its expansion will take its office network to the next level. There are some gaps in specific offices – Chile lacks tax counsel, for example, while Colombia is missing disputes and tax lawyers – so it is likely Cuatrecasas’ next steps will focus on filling those.

The New York office plays an increasingly prominent role in Latin American work, with international practice head Antonio Baena based there. Members of the New York team travel to the region on a fortnightly basis and are doing a good job of capturing work from US investors in the region. The office works to maximise Cuatrecasas’ visibility to US and Canadian clients, particularly in private equity. It helps these clients identify opportunities in Latin America, opening the door for its local offices to step in. 

In addition to its strength in corporate, finance, arbitration and tax, Cuatrecasas is growing its compliance practice in Spain, something it would like to leverage in Latin America. It is increasingly doing work on investigations, helping clients under scrutiny.

Spanish clients are naturally a mainstay for Cuatrecasas and several use the firm for their operations in Latin America, not least telecoms leader Telefónica, pharmaceutical company Faes Farma, and banks BBVA and Santander. US companies, such as Cargill and Caterpillar, also use the firm, while financial sponsors like Victoria Capital Partners, Riverwood and Colombia’s Invivas Global Investment have turned here. Industry-wise, oil and gas accounts for a great amount of work, particularly in Mexico, while renewables, real estate, hospitality, insurance and mining are also important areas, the latter especially in Peru.

Offices

Cuatrecasas has partners doing Latin American work from offices in Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon and New York, as well as a foreign law consultancy in Brazil. The emphasis of the Latin American practice is firmly on offices in the region practising local law. These are in Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. Cuatrecasas also has dedicated country desks for certain jurisdictions where it does not have a presence: Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela and Central America. Complementing its offering is a Shanghai branch that caters to Asian investment in Latin America, while the firm’s African desk – with ties to Mozambique and Angola – completes a three-way Portuguese-language vector.

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