A Q&A Conversation With Alex Perez
Since joining Clark Hill in January, Member Alex Pérez has taken a lead role in expanding a permanent presence for the firm in Mexico City.
With a new office in the city’s financial district, Pérez aims to attract more northbound clients—Mexican businesses and families requiring U.S. legal services—for the firm, while offering the firm’s existing U.S. clients southbound representation in Mexico.
Pérez recently discussed his unique international practice, how he is helping Clark Hill expand in Mexico, and his charitable efforts in San Antonio.
You practiced law in Texas before getting established in Mexico City, how did you make that transition, and what kind of work went into setting up a practice outside of the US?
I’m fully bilingual and Spanish is my first language, so I naturally gravitated in my legal career toward representing and working with clients from Latin America. I was with several large firms early in my career, and any time there was a Spanish speaker or someone from Mexico or Latin America, I was the person designated to speak with them and serve as a bridge.
I did focus on just becoming a good lawyer during my first five to 10 years of practice in the US. It was a natural progression for me to represent more Latin American and Mexican clients, and even today, about 90 percent of my clients are from those areas. They’re doing business northbound into the US.
Generally, clients in Mexico want to be seen and shake your hand. Trust goes a long way, and the way you build that trust is by being physically there and meeting with them. It’s a very hands-on practice.
How did you initially make contact with Clark Hill and what convinced you to join the firm?
The last seven years before joining Clark Hill I had my own firm with my law partner, and we had a small boutique international practice where we focused on cross-border work primarily between the US and Mexico.
I had some friends at Clark Hill in San Antonio, people who had been practicing for many years, and that’s how we initially got in contact. I was not looking to go anywhere since we were very happy doing what we were doing.
What intrigued me the most about the firm and what gave me the confidence to make the switch was the management team, starting with John Hensien. I was convinced that they shared a common vision with me about what a Mexico practice and a Mexico office could mean for the firm as a whole.
Have you adjusted your practice since joining the firm?
My own practice has stayed the same. I represent inbound investors who are generally Mexicans and Latin Americans and are investing or doing business in the US. The substance of my practice hasn’t changed, but what has changed has been the scale of it.
A major reason why I made the switch to Clark Hill is its infrastructure and platform of excellent lawyers. I think there’s a real opportunity to bring in a lot of really interesting and fascinating clients from Mexico who are investing in the US and are expanding their very successful companies and operations into the US. They require anything from litigation counsel to corporate, intellectual property and immigration, and tax, and we’re able to provide all of those services.
A really exciting change for me is the southbound practice, which includes US clients who already have operations and businesses in Mexico, and need lawyers in Mexico. I think there’s a really exciting opportunity there. We have some excellent clients who already do business in Mexico. If we build a good team of Mexican lawyers, I think that’s an exciting opportunity for the firm as well.
What can you share about the new Mexico City office and how it can benefit Clark Hill’s work with cross-border clients?
As of June 1, we leased some beautiful office space in a very safe neighborhood, the financial district of Mexico City, called Polanco. It’s a great space and we’ve set up all of the offices to be hoteling offices so that when we get visitors, everyone will feel comfortable plugging in and working from here just as if they were in any Clark Hill office.
The vision is that there’s a tremendous opportunity to build out that office and to build a team of excellent Mexican lawyers who can service southbound work from existing Clark Hill clients and new clients who seek out Clark Hill. Northbound, the vision is to continue building and capturing the northbound work representing Mexican businesses and investors investing in the United States, and hopefully doing that work with our excellent lawyers across all disciplines.
With your corporate and tax practice, what can you offer to clients that may be a bit unique?
I grew up as a tax and corporate lawyer in the United States. What makes me unique is my skill set as a cross-border lawyer between Mexico and the United States and bridging those two countries, cultures, and legal systems. That’s made possible because of my fluency in Spanish and English, and the fact that I’m bicultural. I think that’s a unique trait that you don’t really find in many lawyers who are capable of representing clients through sophisticated transactions.
How are you involved in helping the San Antonio community?
I’m the Chairman-elect (will be Chair starting in January) of the San Antonio Area Foundation, which is a billion-dollar balance sheet foundation here in San Antonio. It’s a pretty sad and stark statistic that people who are born in certain zip codes suffer from not just lack of opportunity, but worse health outcomes and lower life expectancy, and all kinds of ills that are determined just by the zip code that you’re born in. The Foundation is arguably one of the most impactful foundations in central and south Texas and one of the largest community foundations in the country. Our mission is one of equity, to assure that the zip code that you’re born in doesn’t determine your future.
Right To Know - November 30, 2022, Vol. 1
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