Greenberg Traurig LLP takes a much more business-minded approach than some rivals, with a clear directive for partners to build business where they see opportunity. The firm aims to provide an alternative to the traditional New York firms in Latin America, seeking to be equally high-quality, but more cost-effective and more client-centric. Customers like this approach, with one testifying: “During all the years working with them, we have had personalised, efficient service and great human warmth. They understand our business perfectly, providing excellent recommendations.”
The Latin American practice group has co-chairs based in Mexico City and New York: José Raz Guzmán and Marc Rossell. The geographic spread of its leadership reflects the integral role played by the Mexico City office, where Greenberg counts more than 60 lawyers, as well as the New York contingent. Having previously based its Latin American group in Miami, the decision to spread the leadership across these bases is indicative of a wider directive for the practice to draw on a broader spread of talent from across the firms’ network of offices. Miami remains an integral part of the offering, but other offices in the US are rising to the fore. One in Minneapolis is focused on opportunities between the US and Brazil in the agribusiness sector, for example.
Greenberg has made other good decisions that stand it in good stead. The New York office saw sustained investment over several years and as a result, picks up more and more work. The firm got an early start on compliance and investigations cases coming out of Latin America in recent years thanks to its established US team. There is also a noteworthy arbitration practice with lawyers in Washington, DC and Miami, as well as a good DC-based international trade group that focuses heavily on the region. The real estate practice is one of Greenberg’s strongest suits in the US and is active in Latin America.
The full picture of where Greenberg stands in Latin America should take into account several key departures in recent years, particularly from its corporate and M&A practice. An attempt to add Latin American oil and gas expertise in Houston was also short-lived. Still, this remains a solid and comprehensive practice with several key strengths that give it an edge. One is its base in Mexico, where there is real talent in corporate finance, antitrust and real estate. The office has sought to add specialists in complex regulatory areas and benefits from an experienced telecoms group manned by the former undersecretary of communications. For 2021, an important focus will be Brazil, where Greenberg expects to make use of a recent shareholder hire to make inroads. Another area where the firm sees opportunity is in representing Latin American clients looking to diversify their investment portfolio by entering the US.
A clear part of the business plan for years has been to hire talent with Latin American heritage, or even those who are from the region and dual-qualified. Greenberg is notable for the depth of its cultural understanding of the region, which it has cultivated over more than half a century.
The firm deserves recognition for its contribution to pro bono and diversity initiatives in Latin America. The Mexico office is a frontrunner for pro bono in that country, as well as the region more generally, and has done important work strengthening Mexican civic organisations on behalf of the United States Agency for International Development. In 2020, shareholder Antonio Peña created and hosted the launch of a new diversity initiative by the United States-Mexico Chamber of Commerce’s Inter-American Chapter, aimed at promoting inclusion in the US and Latin American business communities.
The practice group is chaired by partners based in New York and Mexico City, but Miami remains the main hub. Washington, DC plays a role, particularly in trade. The firm is notable for bringing in talent from any of its broad range of offices in the US (especially Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston) and elsewhere when needed.