Year: 2020

Winner: Ritch, Mueller, Heather y Nicolau, S.C.

COVID-19 changed the way Ritch, Mueller, Heather y Nicolau, S.C., a leading Mexican law firm, interacted with clients, but it certainly did not stop it from sealing huge deals.

“We are a client-driven firm, that is our DNA,” said Gabriel del Valle, a partner at the firm. “It’s what makes us effective.”

The focus on clients keeps the firm going the extra mile to close deals. It is why the 21-partner firm was involved in most of the high-profile deals in Mexico and also a key reason why it won the law firm of the year for Mexico in 2020.

The firm was involved in Mexico’s sovereign bonds issuances, the large corporate placements by the state-oil company, PEMEX, and an impressive list of bonds, structured finance and IPO deals in banking, energy, infrastructure and beyond.

A telling example of its commitment came at the start of the pandemic, when Mexico, like most of the region, was locking down. The crisis began in earnest just as the firm was helping to close a $403.9 million deal for PEMEX that involved more than a dozen banks and other players.

The law firm realized that people were spooked, but that it still needed to meet Mexico’s formalistic approach that requires log books to be signed and notaries to stamp and catalogue documents. It came up with a plan that involved a kind of musical chairs for the documents, with the clients moving from room to room to sign and seal the deal, but without actual physical contact between them.

“The documents were signed before notaries and the process moved ahead. Our capacity to innovate in a timely way has helped us stay in close contact with our clients and move forward deals,” said Del Valle.

Del Valle said the only positive take away from the pandemic was coming up with flexible approaches to continue working with clients and looking for options to secure new deals, as well as keeping up with colleagues when it was not longer possible to pop into the adjoining office and ask for an opinion.

“It is not direct interaction, but we have become more flexible and have adopted new ways of discussing the intricacies of a case,” he said. – LF