At the cutting edge

Law firm Garrigues is a market leader in Peru, but how does it manage to stay at the leading edge amid the strong competition from local firms? Óscar Arrús, the firm’s lead partner in the South American country, explains.

Oscar Arrus of GarriguesGarrigues has received multiple awards for the deals in which it has been involved, due to their complexity, volume and importance in the local market, according to Óscar Arrús, the firm’s lead partner in its Lima office. “For us it is very important to be at the cutting edge,” Arrús tells The Latin American Lawyer.

“We live in a world practically without borders, where communications are increasingly rapid and clients therefore demand quality and speed. Garrigues has been able to accommodate itself in this borderless world through the expansion of its legal practice.”

The awards and recognitions the firm has recently received are for its involvement in Peru’s inaugural sovereign bond offer, acknowledged by LatinFinance as Sovereign Bond of the Year and as Liability Management Deal of the Year by Bonds & Loans Latin America. The firm also participated in the securitisation of $1.15 billion and the structured financing of $800 million for Lima Metro’s Line 2, and which was heralded as deal of the year by IFLR and by Trade Finance Americas, as well as Americas P3 Deal of the Year by Project Finance International.

Garrigues also participated in the $1 billion financing of Eckerd Perú (InRetail Pharma) for the acquisition of Quicorp, which was hailed as leveraged finance deal of the year by Bonds & Loans Latin America, and was also involved in the sale of a 57-per cent stake in Rutas de Lima, a transaction that was awarded the private equity deal of the year award of 2017 by Latin Lawyer.

The firm has also participated in significant transactions, such as the financing of the Ruta del Cacao in Colombia and the bond offering by Sigdo Koppers in Chile. Garrigues is present in 13 countries on four continents with a total of 32 offices, expanding its legal practice through the deployment of a network of offices.

“We now boast a presence that is one of the most important in the region, with offices in Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Chile and Brazil,” Arrús says. “The fact that we are present in several Latin American countries has helped us to procure several clients. For example, in cross-border transactions with multinational companies, clients prefer to channel a case with a sole law firm that can help them in various jurisdictions, as that facilitates coordination, making the work more efficient.” The firm is also seeing demand for its services grow, despite an adverse economic and political backdrop in Peru, he says. “

Even though 2019 was a year of economic recession due to the political crisis, the workload has continued to grow year-on-year since we opened in 2014. And 2020 is the same.”

“All Garrigues’ professionals share the same identity: empathy towards the client, a constant concern to understand their needs and strict compliance with deontological laws. These qualities, together with our ample experience, training and disposition, are the reasons for which clients seek out our counsel.”


He says the sectors in which Garrigues is most active are infrastructure and energy, and with a significant number of projects lined up for public bidding over the next couple of years, the firm is expected to remain a protagonist in these sectors. “It is expected that between 2020-21 some 23 infrastructure projects will be awarded in Peru, among them railways, roads and water treatment and storage plants, health centres, transmission lines and waveband spectrum. We expect to be involved in some of those projects. At the same time, due to regulatory changes in the education sector, we also expect to see an increase in M&A in that sector,” he says.

“Garrigues is aware of the challenge that consolidating the firm’s leadership in the 21st century implies, in a world of constant transformation. There is much competition in the legal sector in Peru, all of the local firms are aiming to offer a better service, and for that reason we strive to always be at the cutting edge.” That also explains our investment in technological innovation and the constant training of the firm’s lawyers, he says.

“Garrigues has invested a lot of resources in innovation in recent years, not only in technological tools that result in a better service to the client, but also in initiatives that provide its professionals with the necessary tools to innovate and create a new way of collaborating among all the offices and with the client.” This obeys the fact that clients’ demands are changing, as are the ways in which the firm operates, he says.

“Due to the use of technology, the speed with which transactions are carried out has increased considerably,” he says. “Clients expect a quality product as quickly as possible, and which is why we are not remaining behind in terms of technology, but rather incorporating into our everyday work to make it more efficient.”

“In Garrigues we have a tech team that is constantly creating new applications and products that enable us to improve our work. For example, we have a system of knowledge management that allows us to share with our clients the information necessary at the opportune moment,” he says. “We also currently use diverse artificial intelligence tools such as legal prediction systems and assisted document review and work automation processes, incorporating and adapting new technologies to the needs of our professionals with the aim of channelling their efforts into tasks that create greater value for the client.”


He says that arbitration is a very important area for the firm, and the Lima office opened a litigation and arbitration practice in 2018.

“Since then, our most important clients have begun to require our services in arbitration controversies, both national and international ones, and with increasing assiduousness.” He says that more than 70 per cent of the cases the firm deals with are arbitration, and that, for 2020, he expects that percentage to increase, as the use of arbitration in Peru is growing considerably as a result of Law No. 26850, dating from July 1997 and which establishes arbitration as an obligatory mechanism for the solution of controversies with the state.

Garrigues was named ‘Law Firm of the Year in the Andean Region’ by LatinFinance, a distinction that, he says, confirms the firm is doing a good job and acknowledges the work of its team.

“Garrigues’ success can be summed up in this phrase by the firm’s executive president, Fernando Vives: ‘Our success is the trust of our clients. Our aim is to help them create value. Our strategy is to acknowledge, attract and manage talent’.”

But there are still challenges to be faced, Arrús says.

“The challenge is maintaining the same level of quality in our work, even amid the increase in demand for our services. But, fortunately, Garrigues is focused on the management of talent, and we therefore should not have problems in attending to new clients with the same quality with which we work today.”