Dentons and Kennedys expand into Mexico with new offices

Monterrey

Dentons has continued its push into the Latin American and Caribbean markets by expanding its web of verein-style partnerships to Monterrey in Mexico.

The new office, which opened on Monday (9 January), combines the Monterrey firm Canales Zambrano & Asociados with Mexico City’s Dentons Lopez Velarde. The latter, launched last year, is a partnership between Dentons and the firm of Rogelio Lopez Velarde. Lopez Velarde is now the managing partner of Dentons’ Mexico operations.

Jorge Alers, Dentons’ CEO for Latin America and the Caribbean, and Gregorio Canales, the new Monterrey managing partner, were friends back at Harvard Law School in 1986, when Alers was getting his law degree and Canales was getting his LLM. Over the years, the two friends discussed someday working for the same firm, and this finally became possible when Dentons expanded to Mexico last year. In addition to their personal connection, Canales and Lopez Velarde have worked together professionally, collaborating on energy matters.

“Our paths have crossed through the years,” Canales said of his friendship with Lopez Velarde. “But it was not until Dentons approached that things started to formalise. For us, it’s a natural evolution.”

With the newly combined firm, the goal is to expand Dentons’ global reach and establish the Lopez Velarde brand as a leading energy and infrastructure firm in the Mexico market, he said.

The Monterrey office, which in addition to Canales has four associates and two law clerks, will operate under the name Dentons Lopez Velarde.

The firm in Monterrey practices corporate law, M&A, cross-border financing and complex international transactions, and specialises in energy, international trade, finance, maquiladora manufacturing and real estate. Monterrey is a major industrial centre that is home to a large number of Mexico’s national and international corporations.

Mexico held another in a series of successful energy auctions last month and lawyers in that market have said legal work in the energy sector is expected to grow, both because of changes in the energy industry and anticipated changes in trade regulations between the US and Mexico.

Separately, three lawyers from Canadian firm BCF in Barbados have joined Dentons to form Dentons Barbados Attorneys-at-Law. Alers said the lawyers in Barbados had an established practice working with Canadians who do business in Barbados.

One of them, Charles Gagnon, was previously with Dentons from 1995 to 2000. The other partners in Barbados are Rosalind Bynoe and Ruan Martinez.

Dentons also combined with Cardenas & Cardenas in Colombia last year, and is looking to grow even further in the region, Alers said.

“We are actively involved in conversations with firms in Latin America and the Caribbean,” he said. “We are focused on those countries that are most integrated into the global economy. Those firms are most in position to take advantage of Dentons’ platform.”

Meanwhile, UK firm Kennedys has also launched an office in Mexico, marking its fifth new base in Latin America in six months.

The office will be staffed by three partners – Mexican-born Michael Hennessy, who is relocating from the firm’s Miami office, and two lateral hires: Alberto Torres Martinez, who joins from his own firm Bufete Torres Martinez & Asociados, and Gerardo Plata Iturralde, who has 25 years’ experience working in-house at Mexican insurers and in private practice.

The partners will be  supported by six associates, two trainees and a legal secretary.

Alex Guillamont, the head of Kennedys’ Latin American & Caribbean practice, said: “Mexico is the second largest insurance market in Latin America and continues to grow, with a number of our global (re)insurance clients in this jurisdiction.”