2021 Latin Lawyer Elite firm
When looking for sheer transactional muscle, clients should look no further than Pérez Alati, Grondona, Benites & Arntsen (PAGBAM). The firm has one of Argentina’s top-tier offerings, making it an attractive partner for foreign companies doing business in the country. If this were not enough, it made waves in 2020 when it reached an integration agreement with Chilean outfit Schwencke & Cía – now PAGBAM Schwencke Chile – in what is thought to be a first for an Argentine law firm.
The tie-up is a testament to the demand for the firm’s services outside of Argentina. While the integration might seem unusual for some, management says the driver was to add value for its clients by providing seamless service in Chile. Some of PAGBAM’s biggest clients, such as Falabella and Cencosud, are Chilean brands that have settled in Argentina over the years.
The move also gave PAGBAM local law expertise in Chile through the addition of Schwencke & Cía’s three partners. A new profit pool was created for matters with a foot in Argentina and Chile, but both offices will retain individual control over profits from work that does not cross over. The result is an integrated model that shares expertise across borders.
Closer to home, the firm announced a non-exclusive collaboration agreement in 2021 with energy-focused firm Brillo Abogados, which is based in the province of Neuquén.
PAGBAM handles a great amount of work in its core areas – it has a constant stream of capital markets deals, while its corporate department pulls in high-value sophisticated work. It is one of the country’s leading full-service firms, which means strong practice areas are not restricted to transactional areas. Tax, labour and administrative law are all well within the firm’s capabilities. Pérez Alati’s sector-focused approach has allowed it to build a loyal client following in various industries, such as telecoms, infrastructure and utilities.
During 2020, the firm was kept busy working on distressed assets transactions, litigation, labour, tax and fintech work. PAGBAM is known for its practice area coverage and large, multidisciplinary teams, which have been assets during the pandemic and a bonus for international companies that need counsel on sophisticated deals. Within those teams, senior partners pride themselves on approaching deals and cases in a hands-on manner. The ability to cover all bases has helped this firm develop an exceptionally strong knowledge of Argentina’s complex and evolving regulatory environment.
Research by LACCA (the Latin American Corporate Counsel Association, which is affiliated to Latin Lawyer) into 'Who Represents Latin America’s Biggest Companies' shows PAGBAM to be the second most popular firm in Argentina among major corporates in the region. It represents 12 of the approximately 100 largest companies in Latin America. Some of the firm’s biggest clients are Google, United Airlines, Molinos Río de la Plata, Grupo Phoenix and Louis Dreyfus Company.
PAGBAM keeps a keen eye on developments in the legal sector and frequently locks down the best talent in the country when it feels the need to bolster an area; the turn of 2020 saw the firm promote one lawyer to partner and the promotion of four associates to counsel, strengthening its litigation, administrative, trade, antitrust and banking offerings.
In recent years the founders have taken a step back from day-to-day management, paving the way for younger partners to fill all three slots on the management committee. By making this transition, PAGBAM is trying to safeguard its future.
Other changes are designed to underpin PAGBAM’s professionalisation. The firm invested in software for billing, accounting and document management over the past few years. It is also working on improving gender diversity among its ranks and has implemented generous maternity and paternity leave policies.
PAGBAM has established offices in Buenos Aires and New York. It has extended its presence to Chile, via PAGBAM Schwencke Chile, and since 2021, to the oil and gas-rich Argentine province Neuquén, with a non-exclusive association with local firm Brillo Abogados.
The committee is formed of partners Guillermo Quiñoa, Luis Barry and Eugenio Aramburu. Former managing partner Jorge Pérez Alati is now chairman of the firm.