2021 Latin Lawyer Elite firm
Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría (PPU) successfully leverages its regional presence across three jurisdictions in Latin America and this helps it stand out from much of the competition in Chile’s legal market. Its Chilean team draws upon PPU’s broad corporate expertise, while its local energy, antitrust and banking capabilities are commendable in their own right too.
Being a member of the world’s first major Iberian-American law firm has required a great deal of effort but brings high rewards. Having a presence in Chile, Colombia and Peru and pursuing a collaborative working attitude among partners across borders helps the firm stand out from competitors. Clients greatly appreciate that the firm makes it easy to operate cross-border as it can work in all three jurisdictions in a deal under one partner’s guidance. Expanding into Mexico – to have a presence in all Pacific Alliance countries – has been on the cards for a while, although the firm reports it will not rush into such a move unless the timing is right.
Homogenous managerial policies spanning all the offices underscore PPU’s regional approach. There are regional exchange programmes and common career and training plans in all three countries. Its equal opportunities policy, with emphasis on gender diversity, not only helps retain talent but creates a better working environment to attract Chile’s top lawyers of tomorrow.
A restructuring in recent years means partners now work with all associates across practices, enhancing a collaborative and transparent working environment. Partners are also increasingly encouraged to work across multiple practice areas to offer more comprehensive counsel to clients. Meanwhile, the firm’s new management software launched at the beginning of 2020 continues to help integrate practice areas regionally, which makes controlling billable hours and expenses easier across the different jurisdictions.
The Chilean office’s core strengths are corporate and M&A and banking and finance, which remained in action during 2020 despite a wider market slowdown due to the covid-19 pandemic. Capital markets work – often, although not exclusively on the side of lenders – also kept the firm busy. The firm also noted an increased demand in the projects area in 2020. There are non-transactional practices worthy of note: PPU’s lawyers are especially adept in arbitration, energy, environmental and tax.
According to a study, ‘Who Represents Latin America's Biggest Companies’, published by the Latin American Corporate Counsel Association, which is affiliated to Latin Lawyer, PPU is the most popular firm in Chile among the largest corporates in the region for the second year in a row. PPU represents some 17 of the region’s approximately 100 biggest companies and draws clients from a good range of sectors, including agribusiness, consumer goods, food and drink and natural resources. PPU has a long list of major international clients, such as BNP Paribas and Sumitomo Mitsui, EDF Energy and mining giant BHP.
The firm replenished its disputes offering in 2020 by hiring a former founding partner of a local boutique as a new practice head, along with five of his associates, boosting the team’s already-impressive arbitration and international litigation muscle.
The firm also strengthened its natural resources practice group in May 2021 by incorporating local law firm Carcelén, Desmadryl, Guzmán y Tapia Abogados, adding three partners.
In January 2022, Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría mourned the sad passing of former regional co-chair Juan Francisco Gutiérrez, who played an important role in the firm’s expansion in South America.
Managing partner Marcelo Armas, now in his fourth year in term, continues to push for further integration between all three of the jurisdictions PPU operates in. He stepped down as co-chair of the regional firm, a title he shared with Colombian partner Martín Acero when it implemented a new management model and voted in new leadership in October 2020. Armas’ experience and regional vision from his previous duties still serve the Chilean office well and enhances his international outlook and managerial goals.
Outside of Santiago, Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría has offices in Bogotá and Barranquilla in Colombia, and in Lima in Peru. The alliance is backed by Iberian firm Uría Menéndez, which has offices in Spain, Portugal, New York, Beijing, London and Brussels.
Alliances and networks
Uría Menéndez has always had good relationships with leading firms in Latin America. Outside its own locations, the group has “best friend” firms in other Latin American jurisdictions, such as Galicia Abogados in Mexico and Marval, O’Farrell & Mairal in Argentina.