Ferrere

2011, Latin Lawyer

Dynamic leader with regional presence

Established: 1957

Total lawyers: 94

Partners: 11

After a year of reorganization in 2009 FERRERE suffered a heavy blow last year, when its talismanic former managing partner Daniel Ferrere was killed in a helicopter accident. Ferrere had stepped down from the leadership of the firm in a reorganisation the previous year, taking charge of the firm’s unique international operations (his out-of-the-box thinking saw a string of offices open in the region’s smaller economies). But even so, the loss of such a high-profile figure who had built the firm up from a small operation to become the market leader over two decades at the helm was a shock.

Ferrere’s legacy is a firm known for its hold and innovative strategy and fiercely competitive nature. The new leadership, already established before his passing, has demonstrated a so far faultless ability to uphold the firm’s substantial presence in this market.

PEOPLE & PRACTICES

New managing partner Andrés Cerisola is seen as a less extravagant, less experimental figure than Ferrere was, but has fought fire with fire in terms of combating any perception that the firm is in crisis. Such a notion has been swiftly dismissed with the firm accelerating the transitional process at management level which was already beginning before Daniel Ferrere’s death. Cerisola is recognised for disputes work, and is known to appear in high-value international arbitration and litigation cases. Clients praise his leadership skills, as well as his “unrelenting good spirits, his involvement in every case and situation, his entrepreneurial demeanour, and his habit of promptly returning all phone calls; not a small feat for an in-demand professional.”

The “very gifted” Sandra González has taken charge of the firm’s disputes practice since Cerisola’s move to its leadership. This year she and Cerisola acted as counsel to a consortium of financiers including JP Morgan and a Uruguayan court to lift an USD 11 million attachment on part of an ICC arbitration award. Another key win for González came when she helped Credit Suisse to a court victory in a case relating to bankruptcy-stricken Banco Comercial.

Corporate, trade, and financing work are all strong suits for this full-service firm. Another prominent name is Diego Rodríguez, who works on corporate and trade matters, and this year led the firm’s counsel to Scotiabank as it acquired Nuevo Banco Comercial (NBC) and consumer finance company Pronto!, making Scotia the first Canadian bank with a retail network in Uruguay. Rodríguez also helped launch the opening of Aguada Park – the first services-only free trade zone in Uruguay. Tax lawyer Alberto Varela is also rated highly, as is Martín Cerruti who works on corporate and agribusiness.

In the firm’s ‘business-as-usual’ spirit, it has hired the former chairwoman of Uruguay’s energy and water regulatory agency, Cristina Vázquez, as a senior counsel to bolster its capacity in administrative law. Through this strategy, the firm hopes to boost government-related work. In vindication of this strategy, the city of Montevideo and its bus companies this year retained Ferrere Abogados to structure a new financing scheme. An expansion in the firm’s already-strong IP practice is set to follow.

Another key innovation of Daniel Ferrere, to which the firm still attaches high importance, is its accounting arm CPA Ferrere. That part of the operation was established in the 1990s in a bid to compete with the big international accounting firms in Uruguay, and now has a staff of almost 50.

CLIENTS
As a leading legal brand in the country, it is no surprise that FERRERE has become almost an automatic choice for a number of international brand names seeking legal advice. And the firm’s emphasis on high-end international deals, has not diminished its appetite for major transactional work in Uruguay. One client 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.” Banks are frequent users of the firm both in its finance practice (BBVA is one recent example) and in disputes work, where Cerisola has successfully acted for a number of international names (Credit Suisse, Dresdner Bank and JP Morgan) in ICC and civil actions against Uruguay. One banking client calls in the firm’s lawyers “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.” Vale, the world’s second largest steelmaker has been an M&A client of the firm, as has Siemens Health Care Diagnostics. “They give me a sense of being in good hands,” says another client.

OFFICES
Another recent development has been the opening of premises in Punta del Este, where the firm feels its rivals have shown “limited commitment.” Multiple offices, both domestic and international continue to play a key role in Ferrere's strategy. With the Punta del Este opening in 2010, the firm now has premises in five Uruguayan cities – and that’s quite apart from its remarkable international expansion, which has added offices in Santa Cruz de la Sierra and La Paz in Bolivia, and in Paraguay's capital Asunción (listed in the Paraguayan chapter of this guide). FERRERE has the ambition to become one of that country’s top three firms by 2014, and the head of the Asunción office, Néstor Loizaga, now oversees the firm´s international operations. FERRERE also has a representative office in Sao Paulo. The firm closed (with Daniel Ferrere’s blessing) its Ecuadorean outfit in 2010.

ALLIANCES & NETWORKS
This year, Ferrere joined Lataxnet, a tax related network of firms based in Latin America.

PRO BONO
Ferrere's lawyers each contribute around 40 hours per year to pro bono projects. Clients include Fundación Gonzalo Rodríguez, which the firm advises in its campaign for traffic safety, particularly focused on children´s safety, and Ingenio, a business promotion group created as a joint venture between Laboratorio Tecnológico del Uruguay and ORT University Uruguay, with financial support from the IADB.

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© 2017, Ferrere Attorneys