Rodrigo, Elías & Medrano Abogados is a real powerhouse in the Peruvian legal market. It leads by almost any metric – whether it be the amount of transactional work each year or the complexity of the deals that regularly feature its name or the strength in breadth and depth that its ranks offer. In fact, no other Peruvian firm has as many lawyers recommended in LACCA Approved, a survey of in-house counsel published by the Latin American Corporate Counsel Association (LACCA), which is affiliated to Latin Lawyer.
The firm’s transactional division is the first choice for many national and global companies that need advice on strategic investments, and it is rare to find a cross-border or big-ticket local deal that does not involve Rodrigo Elías – a fact supported by Latin Lawyer’s Deal Tracker data. Its superb transactional offering is not all about M&A: the firm’s finance, capital markets and projects departments are market-leading, while its natural resources and tax groups are top-notch too. In addition, it has an excellent stand-alone insolvency group, which represented LATAM Airlines in its two-year-long Chapter 11 restructuring, a deal that won Latin Lawyer’s Deal of the Year award in the restructuring category.
Behind the success lies hard work. The firm has nurtured its excellent relationships with a vast range of leading corporations and financial institutions. According to research by LACCA, Rodrigo Elías represents 27 of the 100 largest companies in Latin America as well as 14 of the region’s 50 biggest banks. That puts it in an extremely strong position, not only in the Peruvian legal market but in Latin America as a whole.
This full-service firm is hard to fault across the board, and labour, IP and regulatory groups are just a handful of examples where it displays its expertise. Disputes, including litigation and international arbitration, are constantly growing and key for the firm, especially in times of less transactional activity, which has been the case over the past few years. Rodrigo Elías was also one of the first corporate firms to offer white-collar crime and compliance services, an area that has proved successful for the firm.
An integral aspect of Rodrigo Elías’ ability to remain at the top of the market year after year, is its continual adaptation to market changes, including political and financial challenges and clients’ demands for new services. To that end, the firm has established multidisciplinary practice area sub-groups such as ESG, competition, fintech and forestry, as well as start-up and venture capital teams. In addition, the firm was pleased to see the return of a former tax partner to its partnership in 2023, while it also promoted four lawyers to partner, boosting its tax, energy and project finance groups.
Practice area specialisation has also led Rodrigo Elías to pursue complementary non-legal services. The firm’s transfer pricing company, +Value, is among the first of its kind in Latin America. M-Plus, meanwhile, offers dedicated immigration services. The firm also has an innovation and technology platform called REMLAB. It is partnered with accelerator Liquid Venture Studio (LVS) to launch a programme through which legal tech start-ups can compete for investment from both LVS and Rodrigo Elías.
As part of its current three-year plan, the firm moved into new, bigger and more modern offices in 2022. Following the pandemic, the firm has maintained flexible working. The management has put in place incentives for coming into the office, but ultimately it is the decision of individual lawyers where they work. For now, the firm sees no reason to change that. Meanwhile, investing in technology is another priority. The firm has digitalised all of its documents, including libraries and court files, allowing for remote access to all information. Everything is now stored in the cloud and backed up with local cloud storage. Rodrigo Elías is also looking at how artificial intelligence can help it automate processes. It is taking a cautious and analytical approach to researching the right technology, rather than investing significant resources just to say it has certain tools in place.
Deeply committed to building a long-lasting legacy, managing partner Luis Carlos Rodrigo Prado and the management committee – comprising six other partners drawn from a range of practice areas – carefully work on necessary reforms at the firm. The firm has a fully-fledged mentoring programme for its female associates, through which some of its most recent partners have progressed. The programme, led by a diversity committee, includes one-on-one mentoring sessions as well as workshops. A branched-out gender diversity committee is constantly working on unconscious bias and spreading a culture of equality at the firm. There is also an anti-harassment committee. Established compensation systems and retirement policies are also enacted. The latter stipulates a firm-wide retirement age of 66, though lawyers may apply for an extension. However, the firm is careful with its approvals here, as it also wants to create space for upcoming talent. M&A partner Sandro Fuentes and wealth planning partner Alex Morris are two recent examples of partners that remain at the firm after retirement age.
Externally, the firm has a scholarship that enables individuals from less privileged backgrounds, with disabilities or who come from more remote areas of Peru to access university education. The individuals are not obliged to join Rodrigo Elías later on, but the firm has brought in several lawyers through the scholarship over the years.
Fiercely independent, Rodrigo Elías nevertheless recognises the need to have an international strategy, for which it is bolstering its relationships with firms across the world. It is already a member of several law firm networks, such as the World Services Group and Interlaw Network. The firm’s Asia desk, which is led by José Tam and supported by a Mandarin-speaking partner, also plays an important role in the firm’s expansion strategy. It is made up of lawyers with extensive experience in working with clients from the region, and several of the lawyers speak Asian languages. The desk has the credentials to succeed: Tam is the current chair of the board at the Peruvian Chinese Chamber of Commerce, while one of the associates involved in the project is fluent in Mandarin and spent a year at the Chinese law firm DeHeng Law Offices.
Meanwhile, Humberto Medrano, one of the firm’s co-founders, was presented with the Latin Lawyer Lifetime Achievement Award in 2022 for his outstanding commitment to the legal practice and contribution to the development of the tax area in Peru’s legal market.
Luis Carlos Rodrigo Prado is the firm’s managing partner. He sits on the management committee along with Alex Morris, Alfonso Montoya, who also holds a CFO position, Ramón Vidurrizaga, Jean Paul Chabaneix, Oscar Benavides and Fernando Molina.
Alliances & networks
The firm is a member of the Interlaw Network, the World Services Group and the Employment Law Alliance.