Serving National and International Clients
When U.S., European and Latin American companies, financial institutions, governments and individuals need legal assistance with major transactions or litigation, the attorneys at Hunton & Williams’ Miami office provide experienced guidance. “Our team here has been very successful in serving clients in South Florida, while playing a leading role in our firm’s national and international practice groups,” says Juan C. Enjamio, managing partner of the Miami office.
Since its establishment in Virginia more than a century ago, Hunton & Williams LLP has grown to become one of the nation’s largest firms with more than 800 lawyers serving clients in 100 countries from 19 offices around the world. The firm’s key practice areas include commercial litigation, M&A, corporate transactions and securities law, corporate and project finance, international arbitration and cross-border litigation, intellectual property, international and government relations, regulatory law, products liability, bankruptcy and creditors’ rights, and privacy and data security.
|Fernando Alonso, Juan Enjamio and Samuel Danon|
Hunton & Williams’ Miami office opened in 1999 with the arrival of a lateral group of litigators. The office has grown to 50 lawyers, and is on track for further expansion, due to the firm’s ability to serve corporate and institutional clients regionally, nationally and internationally.
“No national firm can do everything, so we focus on our core practices,” says Samuel A. Danon, who is head of Hunton & Williams’ national litigation team. “Litigation in any form is an important component of this market. Miami is a good location for international arbitration as well as outbound legal services.”
Hunton & Williams is oriented around practice areas, rather than geographic offices, according to Enjamio. “That means our attorneys here are highly integrated into our national and international practices,” he says. “That’s a real advantage when serving large multinational clients. It’s also very different from the national firms that have opened local offices here but treat them as outlying satellites.”
Enjamio notes that attorneys in the Miami office are national leaders in the firm. Fernando C. Alonso chairs the firm’s Latin America practice, John. J. Delionado drives the firm’s privacy litigation and cyber security practice areas, and D. Bruce Hoffman, who leads the firm’s global competition practice on antitrust and unfair competition, divides his time between the Miami and Washington, DC offices.
Adopting to a Changing Market
Demand for legal services has changed in the post 2008-world, says Danon. “Corporations have changed their views on how they use legal services and we are responding to them by leveraging today’s technology and providing highly efficient services in a collaborative manner,” he says. “Lawyering is still an art,” says Danon. “Today, you have to be flexible to respond to clients’ needs.”
For example, attorneys from the Miami and Atlanta office are managing segments of a Virginia lawsuit, including reviewing e-discovery findings and taking depositions in the case. Danon and his litigation team also manage a docket of lawsuits for a corporate client that are filed in various jurisdictions. “In-house counsel don’t need to hire local lawyers when we have attorneys in Miami who understand the subject matter and the client’s objectives,” says Enjamio. “Since Hunton & Williams is a national firm, we can bring in trial lawyers in different states as necessary.”
In recent years, Danon represented a top European bank defending a series of actions that asserted claims arising out Bernard Madoff’s brokerage international Ponzi scheme. He also represented a U.S. financial institution in a securities fraud class action filed on behalf of South American individuals who invested in an alleged Ponzi scheme in Florida.
Today, lawsuit filings and trials are down across the country as corporate clients want their attorneys to solve legal problems rather than “fight to the death,” as Danon says. That typically requires understanding the client’s business goals, and building a collaborative relationship with in-house counsel. “Our firm’s long tradition of a collegial, teamwork approach in addressing problems is definitely paying off in today’s market,” says Danon. “After all, if you can’t collaborate in your own firm, you can’t do that with the client.”
Serving Latin America
Hunton & Williams has an established and diverse Latin America practice, consisting of lawyers and consultants with a long history of experience in the region. The team of multicultural and multilingual lawyers — working from Miami, New York, Washington, Dallas, Richmond, and London — has represented clients ranging from global financial institutions and multinational corporations, to local governments and agencies, and prominent Latin American families.
Last January, Hunton & Williams was selected by the International Development Bank (IDB) as one of its panel of firms. That has resulted in new finance-related assignments for the Miami office, according to Alonso.
On the transaction side, the firm’s Latin American practice includes both domestic and cross-border matters. “Our services include mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, project development work and a healthy amount of finance work,” says Alonso. “Our attorneys are not only hired by U.S. companies, but by European firms doing mergers and acquisitions and other cross-border transactions in the U.S. and Latin America.”
On the project side, the firm was Florida counsel to two Spanish groups that invested in the I-595 expansion project, and is now representing one of the consortia that is bidding for a similar PPP project in Central Florida. In addition, the firm has been hired by a growing number of Latin American clients doing transactions within the region. For example, Hunton & Williams represented a Central American financial holding company that recently reached agreement to purchase the second largest bank in Ecuador.
In July, Hunton & Williams advised Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), Costa Rica’s largest power and telecom provider, in connection with the international offering and sale of $500 million in notes. The net proceeds from the sale will be used for ICE’s electric power and telecommunications operations and to refinance part of its existing bank debt. “We are very pleased to have been able to assist ICE in its ongoing efforts to expand its electric power and telecommunications operations,” says Alonso.
In addition, the firm’s international arbitration and transnational litigation practice represents clients before major arbitral institutions around the globe. The team regularly handles investor-state arbitrations before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), and commercial arbitrations before the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC); the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA); the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC); the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague; and the American Arbitration Association and its international division, the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR).
Currently, the global investment outlook for 2014 is positive, and the Miami office is seeing an upturn in engagements, says Alonso. “European investors and financial institutions have weathered the storm and are coming back to the U.S. and Latin America to resume the projects they put on hold.”
As for the Miami office’s goals, Enjamio says, “We want to build on Hunton & Williams’ strengths in areas like commercial transactions and international litigation, as well as intellectual property, and labor and employment. We have some great lawyers here and we have the scale to serve major clients on a global basis.”
South Florida Legal Guide 2014 edition