Norton Rose Fulbright has a long history in Latin America, which began through early investments made by its various predecessor firms. Over the last few years, the strategy Norton Rose has employed to make its mark on the region has adapted; where in the past the firm favoured having local law offices on the ground, it has now decided to prioritise its international practice instead, leading it to reduce its physical presence in Latin America.
Nevertheless, Norton Rose stands out for the significant team it maintains on the ground in Mexico. Best known for its energy and transactional services, among that group are several experienced oil and gas lawyers from Mexican state-run giant Pemex. The firm also has an eight-person team in São Paulo (where it has clients like Ambev, Suzano, Vale and Votorantim). Where it has cut back, in recent years, is in Caracas and Bogotá, where it no longer has offices and works with local firms in each country as and when it needs to.
Complementing its presence on the ground, and a crucial part of what the firm offers clients in Latin America is its global office network. This appeals to companies from across the world looking at Latin America, as well as to companies from the region who want to invest outside of it. It is not uncommon to see a broad spectrum of offices, such as London, Tokyo, Hong Kong or Sydney, on Latin American work.
Given the change in direction vis-à-vis its local presence, it would be fair to say that the composition of Norton Rose’s Latin America practice has undergone a significant degree of change in recent times. But what has not changed is the firm’s aptitude for energy and project finance work. An important highlight in the latter was the project financing for an LNG terminal in El Salvador, for which Norton Rose advised the lenders, and which was that country’s largest-ever project finance deal. These two areas are at the core of what Norton Rose does in Latin America, while the firm’s global reach sees it on multi-jurisdictional deals with a Latin component. While the firm is strongest in the energy sector, its mining offering is similarly impressive and has obvious appeal in Latin America’s mining economies. Within the wider regional offering, there is strength in banking and finance more generally. This area managed to stay exceptionally busy in 2020, in part advising on financing agreements to fund covid-19 relief efforts, but also on big deals unrelated to the crisis.
The firm stands out for its broad geographic scope when it comes to Latin American work. On top of that, its six headline industries (financial services, mining and infrastructure, energy, transport, life sciences and technology) are all important sectors in the region. Most importantly, clients speak favourably about Norton Rose. One says, “the firm has very competent lawyers, with sufficient experience for clients to feel secure about the terms of the transaction.” Another describes the team as “highly knowledgeable of the Latin American market, and in particular Mexico.”
Norton Rose Fulbright has more than 3,800 lawyers around the world, with the most relevant for the Latin American practice being São Paulo, Mexico City, Houston, London, Beijing, New York and Washington, DC. Lawyers from the Canadian offices are often seen on deals in the region.