Legal market overview
While Peru has remained one of the regions more buoyant economies over the last few years, as the "third most globalized country in Latin America" (according to EY’s business and investment report), it too is nevertheless susceptible to international factors and the combination of a drop in both hydrocarbons prices and the demand for metal minerals has impacted upon economic growth. Domestic factors too – from the frequency of community protests halting mining projects to the approaching general elections (due in 2016) – have also impinged upon market confidence. Nevertheless, if mining’s long-held role as the motor of the economy has been temporarily eclipsed, then infrastructure project work (particularly in the transportation and energy sectors) have increasingly taken on that function and economic growth remains healthy. Moreover, while the outcome of Peruvian elections are notoriously difficult to foresee, there is a general consensus that the current economic model is irreplaceable and that –whatever the next administration’s hue– there will be continuity in terms of macro-economic policy. One result, is that the country’s investment outlook appears positive: with Peru remaining second only to Chile in the region, in terms of its investment grade (averaging BBB+ across the three key ratings agencies). For the legal market this has meant that while the content and nature of work may have shifted slightly, both the transactional and advisory pipeline have, for the most part, remained steady.
Ever more sophisticated in term of its service offering, Peru’s highly competitive legal market continues to demonstrate the vibrancy which has characterised it during the last four or five years. The market remains dominated by a handful of full-service firms, foremost among them, market powerhouse Rodrigo, Elías & Medrano, Abogados and its primary competitor Miranda & Amado Abogados, along with Estudio Echecopar member firm of Baker & McKenzie International. Back in 2012, it was Baker & Mckenzie’s takeover of local heavyweight Estudio Echecopar that sounded the starting gun for the arrival of foreign firms. Spanish leviathan, Garrigues opened its Lima office the following year, but it was only in mid-2014, with its hire of Rubio Leguía Normand’s market-leading finance team, that it gained significantly more relevance, demonstrating the risk to key local players of the arrival of international firms in the process.
While Garrigues has yet to build full-service capability, and Rubio Leguía Normand too, requires further hires to replace its losses, there are a number of pushy full service players all looking to take a place at the market’s top table. Leading the way is dynamic transactional player Payet, Rey, Cauvi, Pérez Abogados; but also noteworthy are a clutch of former family firms that are today increasingly sizeable, institutionalised and modern: Estudio Ferrero Abogados, Hernández & Cía. Abogados and Grau Abogados immediately come to mind.
Nor is it simply a ‘one model’ market: full service giant Muñiz, Ramírez, Pérez-Taiman & Olaya Abogados, for example, offers unrivalled national coverage with offices in Trujillo, Arequipa, Ica, Piura and Cusco, as well as Lima, and also has additional links into neighbouring Ecuador; Rebaza, Alcázar & De Las Casas Abogados Financieros on the other hand has resisted the temptation to seek full-service capability, opting –very successfully– instead, to remain true to its transactional roots. Lazo, De Romaña & Gagliuffi Abogados is another growing firm; originally best known for finance and competition work, today it is increasingly prominent in real estate and corporate mattes, among other sectors.
The market is also blessed with a slew of other mid-sized firms, many of which are particularly known for their specialism in one section or another: Delmar Ugarte Abogados (projects), Bullard Falla Ezcurra Abogados (the regulated industries), and Benites, Forno & Ugaz (dispute resolution), to mention just three; as well as numerous specialist boutiques, among which Barreda Moller in the IP sector; Laub & Quijandría in the energy and natural resources sector (particularly electricity); environmental specialists Delapuente and Ada Alegre Consultores; Estudio De la Flor, García Montufar Arata & Asociados in the real estate sector; and tax specialists Zuzunaga, Assereto & Zegarra Abogados, are all notable.
New entries into this year’s rankings include Gallo Barrios Pickmann Abogados in dispute resolution and mining; CPB Abogados and Priori & Carrillo Abogados, both in dispute resolution; De Bracamonte - Haaker - Castellares in bankruptcy; and Casahierro Abogados in the labour sector.