On Monday, Baker & McKenzie acquired Peru law firm Estudio Echecopar to become the first U.S.-based law firm with its own office in Peru. Baker already has 14 offices across South America and with its Peru office, firmly established its hold in the Andean mining-industry triangle of Peru, Chile, and Colombia.
Estudio Echecopar, is one of the most prestigious law firms in Peru with more than 100 lawyers and a practice dating back more than 60 years. Based in Lima, the capital of Peru, Estudio used to help corporate clients like Citibank, Deloitte, Bristol-Myers Squibb and others in their foreign transactions.
The Andean triangle of Peru, Chile, and Colombia has a strong base in mining industries and natural resources, and it has created a loose but de facto common economic zone by free-trade ties and by merging stocks to help investment. According to Eduardo Leite, the Baker & McKenzie Chairman, the Andean triangle countries are set to experience rapid economic growth, possibly surpassing both Brazil and Mexico, which have been past favorite destinations for U.S. investment.
Eduardo’s assertions are backed by the actions of other law firms including Holland & Knight which opened an office in Bogota, Colombia, this May. As reported by Reuters, in a telephone interview with a Reuters representative, Robert Pupo, chairman of Holland & Knights’ Latin America practice said, “Many Colombian companies have reached a level of maturity; rather than doing work just in the country, (they) are doing work out of South America and inbound into the U.S.”
The Andean triangle, with a relatively smaller population of 87 million (Brazil and Mexico has 400 million combined) as of 2011, and with tourist attractions, untapped resources, and economic ambitions, is expected to continue to draw U.S. investment. Peru’s capital Lima is still known to focus mostly on domestic clientele, but with Baker & McKenzie opening shop, big investors cannot be far behind.