2021 Latin Lawyer Elite Firm
Rodrigo, Elías & Medrano Abogados sits at the apex of Peru’s legal market by almost any metric – whether it be the sheer volume of legal work each year, 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 practice areas covered, and lawyers recommended in LACCA Approved, a survey of in-house counsel published by the Latin American Corporate Counsel Association, which is affiliated to Latin Lawyer.
The transactional division is the first port of call for local and international companies that need counsel for their strategic investments, and it is rare to find a cross-border or big-ticket deal linked to Peru that does not involve Rodrigo Elías. The firm is also in the elite for banking and projects work and has a superb natural resource offer. In addition, it is one of very few firms in this chapter listed for restructuring advice.
With that in mind, it is not hard to understand that the firm is popular among Latin America’s largest businesses. According to in-house counsel research conducted by Latin Lawyer’s affiliate, the Latin American Corporate Counsel Association, Rodrigo Elías represents 14 of the 100 biggest companies in Latin America. This makes it one of the four most popular firms among these clients in Peru.
This full-service firm is hard to fault across the board. Tax, labour, disputes, IP and regulatory groups are just a handful of examples where this firm showcases its expertise. It is also a pioneer in terms of what services it offers – Rodrigo Elías was one of the first general practice firms to offer white-collar crime and compliance services in Peru at a time when the area was almost exclusively serviced by boutiques. This trend-setting approach extends to its data law, life sciences and wealth management practices. Rodrigo Elías range and depth in legal coverage stand out.
Efforts to consolidate its market dominance are constantly in the making, for which it makes sure to stay apace with client demand for legal specialism. To that end, the firm has established practice area sub-groups, which recently have included forestry, start-up and venture capital teams, as well as transport and insurance divisions. In addition, the firm began 2021 by promoting four to partner and another three to counsel, strengthening corporate, capital markets, public law and litigation departments.
Practice area specialisation has also led the firm to pursue complementary non-legal services. The firm has a transfer pricing company called “+ Value”, which is partnered with the former head of Peru’s tax authority. Rodrigo Elías’ leadership is already reporting strong results from this venture, which was among the first – if not the first – of its kind in Latin America. Another example is M-Plus, which is a company that 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. Experimenting in new areas could well pay off, and their success would put even more distance between Rodrigo Elías and the competition.
Backroom services and technology investments are key to staying ahead of the game too. The firm’s operating systems are frequently reviewed and updated when needed and technology that is tailor-made for lawyers to increase efficiency is a must, including also for invoicing and accounting. The firm has kept its servers in-house, with an external backup; however, it is now in the making to move it all to the cloud. Support teams with administrators and translators are, of course, also in place.
Institutionally, Rodrigo Elías is deeply committed to building a long-lasting legacy. Managing partner Luis Carlos Rodrigo Prado and his predecessors have pushed various reforms that make the firm a meritocracy, with all lawyers, regardless of family connections, subject to the same rigorous standards. Yet, as the son of one of the firm’s founders, Rodrigo Prado also represents a link with the past – a feature that reassures those clients who feel a closer connection to the firm through family ties. Rodrigo Prado does not have a stranglehold on power, as can be the case in other Latin American law firms. Six other partners drawn from a range of practice areas make up the management committee – a body that has as much say on the direction the firm takes as its managing partner and was re-elected in 2020.
Reforms in recent years have introduced new career paths, flexible working options and, more recently, a fully fledged mentoring programme for its female associates. The programme, led by a diversity committee, includes one-on-one mentoring sessions as well as workshops. A branched-out gender diversity committee also exists. A recent addition is a committee for anti-harassment, which has been created in line with the government’s new employment and workplace guidelines. It includes a manual where all policies are collated and an anonymous communication channel where issues can be reported, as well as training and workshops for lawyers. Further training about unconscious bias and compliance is, of course, also a regular occurrence. The infusion of a younger and more diverse generation of partners will undoubtedly ensure the firm retains its place in the top tier of this market for years to come. Established compensation systems and retirement policies – making partners step down to of counsel or reduce their work at the age of 66 – are also in place.
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. However, this strategy also includes the firm’s Asian desk, which is led by José Tam and continues to be a strong focus. It is made up of lawyers with extensive experience of 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 Chinese law firm DeHeng Law Offices.
Luis Carlos Rodrigo is the firm’s managing partner. He sits on the management committee along with Alex Morris and Alfonso Montoya, who share a CFO position, and 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 Employment Law Alliance.