BY JANIE HULSE
BUENOS AIRES — The March dispute between the Argentinean federal government and farmers over an export tax nearly drove the economy to a halt and marks a departure from five years of optimism and high-growth rates to economic and political uncertainty that has dampened expectations across most sectors, including legal services.
All the ups and downs of Argentina’s recent economic history are reflected in its legal sector. The privatization-happy 90’s filled Argentinean lawyers’ pockets with cash and spurred growth amongst the country’s largest firms as they facilitated the sell-off of huge government assets. The party came to an end with the country’s economic collapse in late 2001, prompting belt tightening by even the most successful firms. The downturn was short-lived, though, and by 2003 Argentina was experiencing unprecedented growth rates of over 8 percent and its lawyers were happily facilitating foreign investments, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and other corporate counsel associated with a thriving economy.
FROM M&A TO LITIGATION
Today, these big lucrative deals are slowing down as companies, wary of increasing government intervention, are behaving more cautiously. While most of the country’s top firms remain optimistic about the future (after all, there is always work for lawyers), the nature of their work is changing from big corporate operations often involving multinationals to local litigation related to government interventionist policies.
Beccar Varela, one of the country’s largest outfits with over 100 lawyers, has ridden Argentina’s...
Keywords: Aerolineas Argentina; Baker & McKenzie; Beccar Varela; Bruchou, Fernández Madero & Lombardi; Cresud; Electricité de France; White & Case