Pérez-Llorca enters Mexico through landmark merger with 100-lawyer González Calvillo

Tie-up to make fast-growing Spanish firm second largest international firm in Mexico

Mexico City Jess Kraft

Pérez-Llorca is set to enter Mexico after agreeing to merge with 100-lawyer González Calvillo in a landmark deal that will give the leading Spanish firm the second-largest presence of any international law firm in the jurisdiction.

The deal will bring offices in Mexico City and Monterrey to the fast-growing Spanish firm, which since autumn 2022 has added bases in Brussels, Lisbon and Singapore to an international network that also comprises offices in London and New York as part of a concerted international expansion effort.

Pérez-Llorca said the deal marked the first tie-up between top-tier firms in both markets and the merger will put it well ahead of Spanish rivals Cuatrecasas and Garrigues in terms of headcount, according to Pirical, with both rivals having fewer than 40 lawyers in Mexico. Baker McKenzie, with 150 lawyers in the country, has the largest presence.

The merger involves full legal and financial integration and will see González Calvillo’s 20 partners become partners of Pérez-Llorca.  

It is expected to be ratified by the boards and partners of both firms in the second quarter of 2024, with regulatory approvals expected in the same timeframe. 

Pérez-Llorca aims to grow further in Mexico, saying the merger is “the first step” in a project to develop the top law practice in the country, “with a leading position in large transnational transactions, financings and litigation”. Pérez-Llorca said it would appoint a development committee staffed by its new Mexican partners to support this growth.  

The merged firm is expected to serve clients on both sides of the Atlantic – including US firms, large multinationals and financial sponsors – participating in the flow of investment to Mexico from the United States, Canada and the rest of Latin America, as well as between Mexico and the Iberian Peninsula.  

Pedro Pérez-Llorca, senior partner of Pérez-Llorca, commented: “I am extremely pleased to announce the integration of González Calvillo into Pérez-Llorca. Mexico and Spain, in that order, are the two largest Spanish-speaking economies, are strongly connected to the United States and the European Union and are increasingly closely linked to each other.  

“This agreement, and the growth in Mexico that will follow, will allow us to serve our clients with excellence in both markets,” he added.  

Relatively few international firms have a large presence in Mexico given the size of its economy, which with GDP of more than $1.4trn is the second biggest in Latin America. Including Baker McKenzie only nine firms have more than 30 lawyers there according to Pirical, among them Hogan Lovells, White & Case and Greenberg Traurig.

González Calvillo, meanwhile, is highly rated by the leading legal directories across a range of practice areas, although it is generally regarded as sitting below an elite grouping made up of Creel García-Cuéllar Aiza & Enríquez, Galicia Abogados, Mijares Angoitia Cortés & Fuentes and Nader Hayaux & Goebel.

Pérez-Llorca’s decision to open in Mexico through a merger of this size will be regarded as a bold move given the challenges associated with bedding down such a large team.

Moray McLaren, co-founder of Lexington Consultants, said: “Pérez-Llorca has been very clear about its ambition for growth, but the speed of growth has made everyone sit up and take notice.

“Opening in Mexico was the natural next step. In part, this is about following the other big Spanish firms such as Garrigues, Cuatrecasas and Uria Menendez, which are servicing their major Spanish clients across Latin America including Mexico. It will also allow the firm to build on the strong relationships with funds and PE investors gained from its New York office.”  

McLaren added the merger may have been more opportunistic than planned and reflected the need for generational leadership change within the firm with the deal “coming at the right time for most of the senior partners”.

“Pérez-Llorca has attracted a top domestic firm, which is unusual and may reflect increasing competition and the benefits for González Calvillo of plugging into the firm’s international network to attract higher value cross-border work, as well as the attraction of being part of a larger platform,” he said.

News of the merger follows Pérez-Llorca growing revenue by nearly 10% to €124m in FY23, making it the seventh largest law firm in Spain by turnover. The firm currently has around 400 lawyers.  

Last month, UK insurance specialist DAC Beachcroft built out its litigation bench in Mexico with the hire of a team from local boutique Márquez & Castelazo. 

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