Ferrere

Latin Lawyer 2016, Bolivia

Full-service firm with regional clout

Established: 2006 Partners: 4 Total lawyers: 22

Ferrere celebrates its 10th anniversary in Bolivia in 2016. While the firm may still rank as a relative newcomer (some of the country's other leading firms were founded over a century ago), it has already proven itself to be a sophisticated, sought-after player in the market. The local arm of Uruguay’s largest firm, Ferrere, has leveraged off its headquarters in Montevideo to establish an impressive profile in banking and transactional work and with Bolivia’s fizzing economy continuing to draw in investment, the firm saw a notable uptick in M&A work last year. At the start of 2016, Ferrere was helping eight foreign companies in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, logistics and transportation, to set up in Bolivia, which suggests its corporate team is due to grow busier still. On the non-transactional side, labour has been one of Ferrere’s star performers, contributing to 30 per cent of the firm’s billing and winning positive reviews from clients. Indeed, clients drawing on a range of services line-up to praise the firm's excellent track-record, skilled lawyers, personalised service and good relations with Bolivia's local authorities. In the words of one satisfied client puts it: “All it takes is to pick up the phone and you know that you will get a proper legal opinion or accurate guidance on different topics.” Further expansion is projected for the future as the firm takes steps to reinforce its presence here, attracting talent by offering a clear career path for associates. The wider firm is also in a period of intense integration to coordinate its services across Uruguay, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay.

PEOPLE AND PRACTICES

The firm is headed by Carlos Pinto, who handles the banking and finance side of corporate work. Pinto is a high-profile member of Bolivia’s legal community with clients that include regional development bank FONPLATA, the Inter-American Development Bank and JP Morgan Chase, which he has advised on acquisitions and loan agreements. He also leads the way in corporate governance, where prominent agribusiness, telecoms, and inspection and certification service companies are among his clients. Ferrere is also active in telecoms, regulation, natural resources work, administrative law, insurance, tax, litigation and labour. Litigation and regulatory compliance is overseen by Lindsay Sykes, whose joining from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP represented a coup for Ferrere. In 2015, she and Pinto teamed up to help Los Angeles-based signal technology company Mojix buy software engineer TierConnect and its subsidiary CodeRoad. Another headline deal saw her assist Owens-Illinois in the Bolivian leg of its US$2.15 billion acquisition of the glass container division of Mexican glass maker Vitro. The regulatory department got a boost in 2016 with the hire of counsel Diego Bohrt, who joined the La Paz office. La Paz-based Alejandro Pemintel heads the labour and disputes practice groups. He has represented telecoms companies AXS, COMTECO and COTAS; some of Bolivia’s most important mining companies, including Glencore Xstrata, Orvana Minerals and Inti Raymi; and helped US cosmetics company Avon exit Bolivia and Mercedes-Benz Argentina sell ambulances to the Bolivian Health Ministry. Pemintel is an able litigator, representing major international corporations in disputes with public authorities. Gerardo Villagómez, former in-house counsel of Santa Cruz-based telecoms provider COTAS, joined the firm in 2015. One oil and gas client that turned to the firm for commercial and regulatory work describes Ferrere as “one of Bolivia's premier full-service law firms.”

CLIENTS

The majority of Ferrere’s clients are international, and often shared with the firm’s other offices. Agribusinesses include Cargill, and telecoms, logistics and insurance companies also feature. Los Angeles-based signal technology company Mojix, glass container manufacturer Owens-Illinois, India’s Jindal Steel & Power, Mercedes-Benz Argentina, US cosmetics company Avon, Swedish telecoms provider Ericsson, UK publisher Penguin are all recent clients. Multilaterals, such as Inter-American Development Bank and FONPLATA, also feature, as does private bank JP Morgan Chase.

OFFICES

The firm’s La Paz office is dedicated to administrative and regulatory work, while corporate, labour and tax are dealt with from Santa Cruz. Ferrere is a regional firm, and as well as its presence in Uruguay and Bolivia, it also has offices in Paraguay and Ecuador.

PRO BONO

Ferrere’s lawyers make a commitment to each do 30 pro bono hours of pro bono annually. A recent project saw Ferrere provide labour, real estate and corporate advice to Fundación Alalay, an organisation that rehabilitates street children in Bolivia. Previous beneficiaries also include environmental NGO the Blacksmith Institute and MADRE, an international women’s human rights organisation, which they assisted on the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersexed individuals in Bolivia. The firm also works with the New York-based Cyrus R Vance Center for International Justice on pro bono projects; recently working with the organisation to assist the Alliance for Financial Inclusion with research on Bolivian banking and finance norms and to conduct research on the prevalence of violence against women.

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© 2017, Ferrere Attorneys