With more than 250 lawyers Muñiz, Ramirez, Perez Taiman y Olaya, is the biggest Peruvian law firm. Mauricio Olaya, Principal Partner and Head of the corporate department, shares his views on the local legal market and what the firm is busy with today. He also tells Leaders League about their current plans and future goals.
Leaders League. How do you see the Peruvian Legal Market? How is it structured?
Mauricio Olaya. If we go back two or three decades, our legal market was made up of quite small, local firms which experienced steady growth during the first decade of the 21st century. With Peru returning to a market economy and thanks to globalization, law firms started to evolve. Since 2005, five robust firms started to distinguish themselves in our local market, but there a second group of around eight strong medium-sized firms also appeared with aspirations of growth and expectations of being at the same level as the other five. A couple of years ago international law firms began to arrive in Lima, following the wider trend in the region. Peru had managed to avoid the process of internationalization until Baker & McKenzie arrived trough the Echecopar law firm. Then Garrigues set up an office, followed by Uria in 2016. Evidence suggests there is much more to come.
Leaders League. Which practices will be busier in the coming years?
M.O. There are two types of work. On the one hand what we call transactional work, which is linked to major projects, financing and mergers and acquisitions. M&A is already active and the flow of work concerning projects, concessions and their financing should growth in the coming years. With the new government, we should see the concretization of major infrastructure projects and we are preparing our staff for that. On the other hand we have the day-to-day work that should increase if another boom in foreign investment coming to Peru occurs. Some years ago a large number of foreign companies settled in our country. In such cases investors look for orientation and accompaniment, covering the arrival of the investment, incorporation of the company and day-to-day advising. All these arrivals will generate a high demand for corporate, migration, trademark and labor advice, invigorating several areas. The labor practice has been very active and that should continue. In recent years labor laws have been modified and so has jurisprudence, which has become much more protective of the employee. All this labor flexibility and generates much more queries.
Leaders League. You recently launched a retail practice. How did the idea come about?
M.O. This is a unique practice area in our local market, highly-specialized in the commercial sector. There were no law firms in Peru with a retail division when we decided to create ours and that is because law firms here don’t see themselves as companies, their legal departments are organized by taking into account the legal practice areas or normative bodies such as labor, tax or corporate. Our vision was completely entrepreneurial. We noted there is a retail sector in the economy that it is very important, with its own experiences, language and codes. Then we decided to build the division. We sent lawyers for training at the Fashion Law Institute of New York and also to Buenos Aires where fashion and retail law is quite developed. In 2015 we announced to the market our new practice group and it has been a success.
Leaders League. What will the firm’s next goals be?
M.O. We share a philosophy of innovation, for us it’s a case of innovate or die, all the more so in such a competitive market. We have a dedicated brainstorming group that is always thinking about new products. Some of these don’t have an external impact but an in-house one, such as the development of our business intelligence program. This is software that we feed with all kinds of information about our clients in order to better understand them. Any lawyer that receives an inquiry from a client need only click a button to access a range of information about the client. That information is very diverse and allows us to: identify the client; the last time they had an interview with our customer services and the result of that evaluation; their consumption levels etc. This allows for highly personalized attention. Furthermore, our information technology department is developing several apps for in-house use and others that should be offered to the legal services industry.
To sum up, our concept and understanding of being a legal services company, with very well-defined business lines and a permanent focus on client satisfaction, are probably the bases of the success achieved in our market.