2010, Latin Lawyer

Still dominant as Uruguay`s largest firm, FERRERE is also undergoing a generational handover at the top designed to bring a younger cadre of lawyers to the fore. Managing partner Daniel Ferrere, who many observers had for a long time seen as closely and personally associated with his firm and its aims, has stepped down and now heads up the firm`s international operations in Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay, while disputes partner Andrés Cerisola has taken over as firm leader. The change of management, however, has not dampened the enthusiasm of its clients, one of whom describes the team as “very proactive professionals, very knowledgeable [and] very good in continually maintaining the flow of communication with their clients, always demonstrating that they are on top of things, which is an important part of the expected service.”

New managing partner Andrés Cerisola is a recognized name in arbitration and litigation, and impressed one client with his “keen understanding of business situations.” He is praised for being able to encompass complex situations within his advice, but “most appreciated are his unrelenting good spirits, his involvement with every case and situation, his entrepreneurial demeanor and his habit of promptly returning all phone calls, not a small feat for an in-demand professional.” Another client praises Cerisola for “his leadership skills,” which will doubtless be tested to their full extent as his tenure at the head of the firm develops. His predecessor Daniel Ferrere is the firm`s strategists and has won several advisory commissions from the Uruguayan government. Ferrere also puts a great deal of effort into generating growth opportunities for the firm and its lawyers. Prominent names include Diego Rodríguez for corporate and trade, Alberto Varela for tax and Martín Cerruti for corporate and agribusiness. A German client praises the “very gifted” Sandra González. With Ferrere and Varela, Cerisola and González add to the firm's strong coterie of Harvard-educated members. Elsewhere, Néstor Loizaga has had a prolific 2009, working on financing transactions from the firm's Paraguay office. In line with Uruguayan firms´ multidisciplinary tendencies Ferrere has an accounting arm, CPA Ferrere.

FERRRE`s client list displays a raft of international names, and is impressively varied, both geographically and in the range of sectors it works across. In financing work, the firm has represented BBVA, and banks have also been frequently known to turn to Ferrere´s disputes team with Cerisola having successfully advised Credit Suisse, Dresdner Bank and JP Morgan in ICC and civil actions against Uruguay. For M&A work, both Siemens Health Care Diagnostics and local constructions company SACEEM have tapped the firm´s resources. Feedback suggests a high level of client satisfaction. “They give me the sense of being in good hands”, says one. A major European banking client describes the firm´s lawyers as “very good analysts, very precise, extremely knowledgeable and [with] admirable strategic skills. On top of that I have the impression that they are very well connected in Uruguay and have absolute integrity.” While actively competing for major transactional work in Uruguay, Ferrere continues to provide corporate and M&A services for local and international companies without high profiles to maintain growth in a country where high-end deals are limited.

FERRRE employs 14 full-time lawyers outside Uruguay, now under founding partner Daniel Ferrere´s management, with the aim being to become a one-stop shop across South America´s smaller jurisdictions. The firm´s recent expansion strategy culminated in the opening of an office in Ecuador in 2008. Ferrere now has seven offices in total, including three at home, in Montevideo, Colonia and Tacuarembó, one in Paraguay´s capital, Asunción, and two in Bolivia´s major cities, La Paz and Santa Cruz. It also has a representative office in Sao Paulo.

Lawyers give an average of 30 hours a year to pro bono work. FERRRE's pro bono projects this year have included giving support to children from government-run program for orphans and abandoned children in helping them gain a university degree, giving legal advice to poor clients through the office of the Archbishop of Montevideo, advising HIV/AIDS charity the Lifeline Foundation, representing the Pereira Rossell Hospital Foundation, Uruguay´s largest children´s hospital, as well as acting for the Montevideo Philarmonic Orchestra, the Logros Foundation (which fosters connections between organic farms and government-run schools for disadvantaged children) and several organizations promoting entrepreneurship and legal training.

The transition from one managing partner to the other was completed and, although this is a complex and challenging process for any firm, Ferrere Abogados has emerged feeling optimistic about the future. Elsewhere in the firm´s personnel, partner Alejandro Hernández, who worked on banking and finance deals, left to go into business, while the former head of offshore firm Ogier´s Montevideo office, Martin Litwak, moved to the firm as senior counsel to work on investment funds and wealth management. Ferrere has also seen a further 10 associates added in Uruguay.
In deals, the firm made a strong start to the year as a team led by Diego Rodríguez advised all parties on the financing package for government highway and sewage works in the Uruguayan department of Canelones.
Rodríguez´s team came again to the fore in the summer, advising Uruguayan consumer credit company Pronto! as well as trustee EF Asset Management in a bond issuance. In August EF turned to Rodríguez again, when it was trustee to a bond issuance by a New Zealand dairy company.
In September, the firm was Paraguayan and Uruguayan counsel to the world´s second largest steelmaker, Vale, as it completed its USD1.6 billion takeover of assets from rival Río Tinto.
Also in October, Ferrere advised Uruguay´s Chamber of Medical Emergency Companies in securing the country´s first agreement to establish nationwide emergency services.
Cerisola´s disputes practice represented the Uruguayan Association of Customs Brokers in a dispute over pension payments, securing an award against investment fund Swiss Group Corp and the bulk of its costs. The team secured another win in July, seeing off a USD108 million claim against former shareholders and directors of the defunct Banco Comercial. Another victory for the disputes team that month was presided over by Julio Iribarne, when Uruguay´s Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal against a ruling in favor of Italian chemicals manufacturer Dirox, concluding seven years of litigation over pollution claims. And in October, the firm led Uruguayan supermarket chain Tienda Inglesa to a court victory, overturning a bid by the country´s tax authority to temporarily close its stores.

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