Dentons continues push into Latin America with Brazil alliance


Dentons is continuing its aggressive push into Latin America, with plans to form an alliance with Brazilian firm Vella Pugliese Buosi Guidoni.

Vella Pugliese is best known for its civil litigation work, often on high profile cases, as well as its work with local companies on M&A.

The alliance, which is subject to approval by partners at both firms, would give Vella Pugliese clients access to thousands of lawyers in more than 60 countries on six continents through Dentons’ network of firms, and would give Dentons’ clients access to Vella Pugliese’s 13 partners and other staff in Sao Paulo and Brasilia.

The firms believe the alliance, which would be part of Dentons’ verein structure, will enhance their offerings in such areas as competition and antitrust, M&A, dispute resolution and litigation, labour, international trade and commodity finance, tax, public and administrative law, real estate, and environmental law.

Partners are expected to vote on the proposed alliance in the next few weeks. If it goes through, it will launch later this year and become the latest in a spate of law firm alliances Dentons has made in Latin America and the Caribbean in the past year.

“We are growing faster in Latin America – and with truly high quality firms – in a way that no one has ever done before,” said Dentons global CEO Elliott Portnoy. “The speed and quality of our growth in this region are unprecedented.”

Last year, the firm announced it would launch Dentons Lopez Velarde in Monterrey, Mexico. Monterrey is a major industrial centre that is home to a large number of Mexico’s national and international corporations. The firm also established Dentons Cardenas & Cardenas in Colombia, and formed Dentons Barbados.

And earlier this year, it established Dentons Munoz through a tie-up with Costa Rica-based firm Munoz Global - a move that gave the firm access to the Central American market and bases in Panama and Nicaragua.

While Dentons is making a push in Latin America, it does face competition. A string of large Latin American law firms consolidated across borders last year – a trend previously unseen, according to lawyers who have long worked in the region. The business shifts may make other firms nervous, lawyers said.

Vella Pugliese founding partner Rodrigo Vella said the formation of an alliance with the world’s largest law firm allows his firm to maintain its autonomy while expanding its reach.

Separately, The National Law Journal reported that earlier this year Dentons asked several US-based partners to leave after the firm failed to meet its 2016 budget. Dentons, having just absorbed firms in Costa Rica, as well as in the Netherlands, slashed 60 jobs in the US, as well as a handful of jobs in the UK, in order to streamline its operations.

Dentons Latin America and Caribbean CEO Jorge Alers said in January that the firm was looking to grow even further in Latin America and the Caribbean, although it did not have a fixed timetable.

“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.”