Muñiz, Olaya, Meléndez, Castro, Ono & Herrera is comfortably the largest firm in Peru and leverages its extensive network of offices to good effect. The firm’s offer is truly full-service, including several niche areas, and its geographic presence in Peru is unmatched.
After some years of headwinds, with partners departing and few name changes, the firm has found institutional stability, built up the equity partnership (including six promotions in 2021) and noted some record performances. Performance in 2020 was good, despite the general slowdown due to the pandemic, in the sense that the firm secured numerous new clients.
Muñiz has taken an active approach in recent years to marketing and embraced social media, taking to Instagram and posting videos on YouTube to promote the firm, while lawyers frequently contribute to local newspapers. It has recently launched multiple sector-specific webinars to maintain the connection with and inform in-house lawyers of the numerous legal changes put in place amid the pandemic. The firm also has an app to share information and communicate with clients more efficiently. Meanwhile, a diversity committee, which has been allocated further resources lately, aims to work for gender diversity, as well as on broader issues, handling discrimination complaints and investigating sexual harassment allegations if they arise.
Some of Muñiz’s rivals claim the firm favours bulk work. The firm uses a retention fee structure, which has enabled it to grow and become Peru’s largest and handle extensive due diligence and day-to-day work for clients. It is also true that the firm makes strategic use of its size and geographic reach, meaning it can handle multiple deals at a time and go after the most local details in remote Peruvian areas. But complex and large transactions make up a profitable part of its work too. Few local competitors are involved in as many M&A transactions as Muñiz. Taking a closer look, the firm also acts on several of the largest and most complex deals in Peru. Recently, that included the completion of China Yangtze Power’s asset buy from Sempra for US$3.6 billion. That example can be backed up by several other ones, including in the corporate finance field.
The firm intends to make use of the growing interest of Chinese investors in Peru. It has slowly built up expertise working for Chinese clients, which work has intensified in the past few years as investments reach higher values. Some partners have long been involved in Peru’s Asian communities, and while there already is a Mandarin-speaking adviser at the firm, it intends to train up more lawyers in Asian languages to overcome what otherwise might be complex cultural barriers.
It is not only popular among Asian companies. According to in-house counsel research conducted by Latin Lawyer’s affiliate, the Latin American Corporate Counsel Association, Muñiz represents 16 of the 100 biggest companies in Latin America. This makes it the most popular firm among these clients in Peru.
From a business perspective, it is not only Muñiz’s corporate and banking teams that have shown their muscles lately. IP, labour and tax are other strong practices that hoover up major work, while antitrust is another solid offering that will have a lot of work in the new year, following the implementation of Peru’s new merger control law. Some niche practices make the firm stand out too. An agribusiness group caters to clients in one of Peru’s largest sectors with detailed advice, while a municipal practice, which has close connections with local governments and regulations, is one of few in the country. Another example is a retail practice, while a cannabis-focused group has been carved out as a specialised group from the life sciences practice as the firm absorbs more work in that sector. Muñiz also reports a growing workload in wealth management and compliance.
The firm is not only offering compliance advice to clients to a larger extent but has also been looking over its internal policies. As part of an investigation into alleged bribes paid to government officials in Peru for a gas pipeline linked to Odebrecht, Muñiz’s offices – and those of two other law firms in this chapter – were raided in 2019. Neither the firm nor its lawyers were implicated and the outfit has been cooperating with the investigation, providing what is requested by the attorney general’s office. The firm is also working to obtain a certification for ISO 37001, a global anti-bribery management standard.
Muñiz takes a refreshingly business-minded approach to its operations and client service. It has a mobile phone application that keeps clients up to date with the latest legal developments, business intelligence software containing all crucial information about clients and their activities as well as a customer service department dedicated to clients’ feedback, complaints and requests. New digital tools to inform clients about their matters related to compliance and judicial proceedings were also implemented in the last year. The firm realises how beneficial technology can be, meaning it invests in tailor-made software to enable lawyers to be as efficient as possible and IT infrastructure allowing remote working. It believes investment in technology helps to retain talent too, for which it also allocates resources to intern programmes and overseas studies
In Jorge Muñiz, the firm has a leader who wields considerable influence. A seasoned lawyer who has held various public roles, Jorge Muñiz is a mainstay of the Peruvian legal community who commands widespread respect thanks to his knowledge and experience. He sits on the managing committee composed of name partners Mauricio Olaya, Fernando Meléndez, Fernando Castro, Daniel Ono and Ricardo Herrera, as well as Marta Fernández and Eduardo González.
Muñiz has the most extensive national coverage of the firms listed in this chapter. Its impressive network includes offices in Arequipa, Chiclayo, Cusco, Ica, Ilo, Juliaca, Lima, Piura, Puno, Tacna and Trujillo.
Alliances & networks
The firm is a member of the Pacific Rim Advisory Council, Interact Law and World Compliance Association. It established an alliance with consultancy company International Dynamic Advisors (Intedya) in 2018.