In the midst of Brazil’s latest economic turmoil, Baker Botts has elected to shutter its only office in Latin America. The Houston-based firm has been systematically downsizing its operations over the last several years amid deteriorating market conditions.
As reported to Law360, firm spokesman Stephan Hastings remarked: “In the end we had two lawyers who were involved with the Rio office — one has relocated to Moscow and the other is based in New York City.”
The firm will continue to service Latin American clients remotely.
Despite Baker Botts’ exit, other firms remain undeterred by stormy business conditions.
In their continued trek toward becoming a global powerhouse, Dentons recently announced their entry into Latin America with plans to merge with Colombia’s Cardenas & Cardenas and Mexico’s Lopez Velarde Heftye y Soria.
Also last fall, Paul Hastings LLP announced that it had hired an energy and infrastructure lawyer from a top Brazilian law firm to serve as a partner and chair of the firm’s proposed new office in Sao Paulo. Michael Fitzgerald chair of the firm’s Latin American practice group, noted that despite recent economic upheaval, “[Brazil] remains a key market with regional and global importance for the firm’s clients.”
However, no international firm enjoys the longstanding and expansive presence in Latin America more than Baker & McKenzie LLP. At nearly 750 attorneys spanning more than a dozen offices, Central and South America represents the fastest growing market for the firm.
According to Law 360, Claudia Prado, the chair of the Latin American region for Baker & McKenzie, noted that “political instability may be part of what is causing other firms from expanding further in Latin America, but added that other international firms have not quite found the right models to succeed in the region.”