Paul Weiss launches Latin America practice with corporate hire from Willkie Farr

M&A partner Maria-Leticia Ossa Daza joins in New York having founded and led Willkie’s LatAm practice

Maria-Leticia Ossa Daza Image courtesy of Paul Weiss

Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison has hired a corporate partner from New York rival Willkie Farr & Gallagher to lead a newly-formed Latin America practice.

Maria-Leticia Ossa Daza has joined the firm’s M&A practice in New York after more than 20 years as a partner at Willkie, where she founded and led its Latin American practice. 

Paul Weiss said she has represented Latin America-based companies on cross-border and domestic transactions, as well as companies spanning the financial services, technology, infrastructure and consumer goods sectors on their investments in the region.

“Leticia has worked on many of the most important deals in Latin America in the last few years,” said Scott Barshay, chair of Paul Weiss’s corporate department. “She has deep relationships in the Latin America market and understands the deal landscape exceptionally well.”

Ossa Daza’s hire comes as tensions between China and the US, as well as the war in Ukraine, make Latin America an increasingly attractive region for investors, according to a KPMG survey published last year.  

Her recent representations include advising US confectionary business Ferrara Candy Company on its acquisition of Dori Alimentos; Zurich Insurance Group in multiple transactions; and Mexico’s América Móvil on its $6bn sale of TracFone Wireless to Verizon.

“As an M&A lawyer, Paul Weiss is the most exciting place to be right now,” Ossa Daza wrote on LinkedIn. “The firm has been going through an exciting period of growth and I’m eager to leverage their resources to support clients operating in or with an interest in Latin America.”

Paul Weiss’s New York M&A team has grown by 5% over the past year to more than 100 lawyers including 36 partners, according to Pirical. 

That rate of growth pales in comparison to the eye-catching buildout of the firm’s London office, which has hired 21 partners since last summer after being left with just three following the defection of former office head Alvaro Membrillera for Kirkland & Ellis. 

The hires have focused on building a top-tier London private equity practice and have swollen the office’s M&A team to seven partners, including European M&A head William Aitken Davies, one of four lateral partner hires from UK Magic Circle firm Linklaters. 

Going the other way, Paul Weiss’s M&A team has seen senior exits recently in New York, including former global co-chair of M&A Taurie Zeitzer, who joined White & Case in January as co-head of private equity. 

Last November Sidley Austin also hired away M&A and private equity partner trio Jeffrey Kochian, Gerald Brant and Brittany Harrison in the city alongside a counsel. The firm has hired a dozen lawyers from Paul Weiss over the past 11 months as it build outs it private equity bench.

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