18 Sep 2020

McDermott unveils Latin America practice to target 'myriad opportunities'

Top 30 US firm brings together Lat Am-focused US and international lawyers into new grouping

Photograph of Latin America from space


McDermott Will & Emery has unveiled a Latin America practice with a brief to develop “myriad opportunities” in the diverse region.

The team brings together 64 partners and counsel based across the firm’s network of 20 US and international offices and is led by Miami-based tax partner Michael Silva and fellow tax specialist Manuel Rajunov, who is based in Dallas.

Both team leaders are recent arrivals at McDermott. Rajunov, who specialises in representing foreign investors with a focus on Mexico, joined from Greenberg Traurig in January, while Silva was part of a three-partner team that joined the firm’s market-leading private client practice from DLA Piper in the spring.

Michael Poulos, head of strategy at McDermott, said:  "Latin America is such a commercially vibrant region, and we are excited about the myriad opportunities to partner with our clients there."

The firm says the practice will offer a wide range of services to a large client base made up of ‘multinational corporations, private equity funds, financial service firms and high-net-worth individuals’. 

Practice rule restrictions together with geopolitical instability have led many US firms to service Latin America from the US, with Miami proving a popular base for regional desks.

Latin America M&A activity suffered its worst first half of a year on record as the coronavirus pandemic ripped through the region leaving dealmakers unable to pursue new transactions, according to Mergermarket.

Silva struck an optimistic note, however, saying: "Each country in Latin America is unique with its own mix of industries, political and legal systems, natural resources and economic and social forces, and the McDermott team is well-positioned to provide trusted guidance across all of these spectrums and more.”

Other firms to have recently launched, or relaunched, their Latin American teams include Squire Patton Boggs, which appointed Alejandro Peña-Prieto to lead a 20-partner executive committee tasked with growing the firm's practice in the region, where it has one office, in Santo Domingo, and Polsinelli, which has based its new Latin America practice in Miami.

In June, Winston & Strawn effectively took over McDermott Will & Emery’s Shanghai office after forging an alliance with McDermott’s long-term China partner.

The move signalled McDermott’s withdrawal from from having an on-the-ground presence Asia, having closed its Seoul office last year.

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