Greenberg Traurig adds Holland & Knight team to launch labour practice in Mexico City

Partner Leslie Palma joins as a shareholder along with six associates in 'natural progression' for 60-strong office

Top 20 US firm Greenberg Traurig has taken a seven-strong team from Holland & Knight to set up a labour and employment practice in Mexico City.

The team is led by Leslie Palma, who made partner at Holland & Knight in August and will lead the practice at Greenberg as a shareholder. Moving over with her are associates Karla Alejandra Peña Copka, Alma Isabel Díaz Cano, Jorge Arturo Andazola Martínez, Claudia Elsa Gonzalez Ramirez, Victor Adrián Reyes Tafoya and José Alberto Ortiz Pérez.

The firm also added Marité Villanueva as of counsel in October for the launch from Lottus Education, where she was head of human resources and labour matters.

“This new practice group in Mexico City is part of our global strategy to meet clients’ legal needs and related demands for top-level talent in an increasingly connected international marketplace,” said Greenberg executive chairman Richard Rosenbaum.

José Raz Guzmán, Greenberg’s managing shareholder in Mexico City and co-chair of the firm's Latin America practice, said adding a team of lawyers with experience in labour, employment, benefits and compensation matters was a “natural progression” for the office.

Greenberg currently has more than 60 lawyers in Mexico City practicing in areas including, general corporate law, energy and infrastructure, M&A, competition law, real estate, banking, securities, telecoms, compliance, administrative litigation and international dispute resolution.

Palma spent nearly nine years at Holland & Knight as a senior counsel before making partner, prior to which she was at Mexican law firm Basham, Ringe y Correa and the Mexico City office of Thompson & Knight. She advises international and Mexican corporate clients on employment issues including individual and collective bargaining matters, executive compensation, labour management relations and workforce reductions.

“Our work is based in understanding our clients’ operations thoroughly to provide tailor made advice, Palma said. “Supported by the team we’ve assembled here in Mexico, being able to represent clients nationwide along with the ability to tap into Greenberg’s global network, I am excited about the meaningful work we have ahead of us here.”

Villanueva’s stint in-house at Lottus Education was preceded by eight years at Mexican labour and employment law firm Cavazos Flores SC. She has advised corporate teams on managing strategic layoffs, lawsuits, contingency plans to prevent labour liabilities and union negotiations.

“I can understand the corporate perspective to labour issues, which allows me to advise clients from a more holistic position,” said Villanueva. “I am looking forward to working alongside a group of attorneys with deep roots in Mexico, but also being part of a global practice.”

Earlier in December, Greenberg hired a seven-strong group of real estate lawyers including one partner and two senior associates from Dentons to replenish its real estate offering in Warsaw, having lost 10 lawyers to CMS in November. 

And in October, Greenberg added seven litigators as shareholders from UK firm Mishcon de Reya ahead of the latter’s planned IPO, including all five partners in Mishcon’s highly-rated fraud defence and business disputes group.  

In other labour law news, US labour and employment specialist Littler expanded its European footprint through a tie-up with boutique law firm DCM Lawyers in Portugal in November, having opened its 100th office in Ghent through its Belgian partnership with RelianceLittler back in May. 

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