MEXICO - Economy
Founding Partner, Mijares, Angoitia, Cortes y Fuentes
Pablo Mijares Ortega has been a partner of Mijares, Angoitia, Cortes y Fuentes, S.C., since its formation in 1994. He graduated from the Law School of the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) in 1990, and worked as a foreign lawyer at White & Case in New York in 1991 and 1992. He has experience in mergers and acquisitions, real estate, private equity funds, investments, and divestitures in Mexican target companies, corporate and structured finance, and insurance work. Mijares has been recognized as one of the top corporate/M&A lawyers in Mexico by various recognized international publications.
It is completely open and mostly user friendly. Now more than ever, Mexico has broken with decades-old taboos and opened up investment opportunities for private investors, Mexican and foreign alike, in areas that were previously off-limits. Most notably, the energy sector (oil, gas, and electricity) is now accessible, and no longer reserved for state-owned entities. At present, with very few exceptions, there are virtually no more restrictions on foreign investment in all economic areas. Moreover, foreign investors are afforded the same treatment as Mexican nationals in Mexican local and federal courts.
The number of legislative changes that have occurred in the past 18 months has surpassed even the most optimistic scenarios. There have been significant, game-changing amendments in labor laws, banking, securities, and around 30 other financial laws, antitrust laws, telecommunication legislation, energy-related laws, tax laws, and anti-money laundering legislation, including, notably, constitutional amendments where required. So the impact on investment, at least on paper, is expected to be enormous. These reforms are transforming the country in ways that had long been anticipated, but that seemed politically unattainable.
More than 50% of our clientele is foreign. All our partners and associates are fully bilingual and are trained in US law firms and US or European universities. Assisting foreign clients is core to our nature and origin, and we represent them in both simple and complex transactions of various kinds. Our practice groups, including M&A, banking and finance, securities, energy, antitrust, tax, environmental, and IP, are involved in the continued education of our attorneys, so that we can be better positioned to tend to our clients’ needs with the ultimate goal of adding value to their Mexican endeavors.
Today’s main concerns lie in avoiding corrupt practices. I would say this is a global trend that is not likely to go away soon. Mexico has enacted FCPA-type legislation, but the enforcement thereof has yet to be tested. Foreign investors are right in being concerned and should be diligent in obtaining the right advice. In addition to the technical aspects of the law, we sell something much more valuable, namely, our ethics, honesty, and trust. In this context, I believe investors should be careful in choosing the right law firm. It is one thing to be efficient and cost-effective in this economically strained environment, which has become a must for us as a firm; it is, however, a very different thing to choose counsel merely based on cost, as that may prove to be more expensive at the end of the day.
There are indeed dozens of firms in the Mexican market—not one of them overly large, and this is the result of a generalized lack of institutionalization. Unhappy lawyers at one firm leave to set up their own firm, but replicate exactly the same rules from which they were escaping, only to apply them until someone else leaves, and this is a never-ending story. We are different. Everything we do, large or small, is directed toward the ultimate goal of institutionalizing our firm, so that our lawyers know that this is a long-term place to commit to. This loyalty towards the firm translates into a more solid commitment to client service.
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