DLA Piper continues global growth with Mexico office launch

DLA Piper has today (14 February) opened a new office in Mexico City with the hire of a four-partner team from US law firm Thompson & Knight’s local office.

The team joining DLA includes tax partner Manuel Rajunov, projects partner Miguel de Erice, capital markets partner Guillermo Uribe and corporate partner Carlos Valencia, who specialises in telecoms, media and technology.

Rajunov and Valencia will head up the new office, which will include the entire Thompson & Knight Mexico City practice of 15 staff.

Corporate lawyer Tatiana Escribano will join DLA as a partner, while real estate lawyer Dania Duncan has been appointed of counsel.

The team has been in talks with DLA for several months, with the decision to move taken early this year. Two partners, Rajunov and Duncan, will be based in Dallas but will spend a significant part of their time in Mexico, and will solely handle Mexican law cases.

The office will initially focus on corporate, infrastructure, cross-border tax planning and government contractual work, with energy, employment and alternative dispute resolution among the firm’s plans for future expansion.

The new base comes after DLA entered the Brazil market in March 2010 via an alliance with local firm Campos Mello Pontes Vinci & Schiller, while last February the firm tied up with Venezuela’s InterJuris Abogados, which is based in Caracas.

Mexico is currently seeing growing interest from global law firms, with Clyde & Co recently confirming the country is on its list of target destinations, while fellow insurance specialist firm Davies Arnold Cooper – which recently merged with Beachcroft to form DAC Beachcroft – has had an office in Mexico since 2003.

US firm Greenberg Traurig launched in the country late last year and has since built up the base with the appointment of one energy partner and six lawyers, while Jones Day secured a local launch in 2009 with a merger with its Mexico City referral partner De Ovando & Martinez del Campo.

Thompson & Knight previously held merger talks with US peer Reed Smith, but a potential tie-up was called off in January last year.

In a statement, the firm’s managing partner Emily Parker said: “Thompson & Knight’s strategy is to establish a foreign presence in our core practice areas. The Mexico City office was opened to focus on the Mexican oil and gas industry in anticipation of future changes regarding foreign investment in that industry. That strategy was not realised, and our Mexico City Office became more of a general corporate practice.

“Thompson & Knight will continue to serve our clients with operations in Mexico through the energy expertise in our longstanding Monterrey office.”

For more, see DLA launches office in Miami and seals alliance with Venezuelan firm.