My Legal Life: Peru, Globalisation and the Corporate World
Maria Luz Vargas is the Managing Partner of Estudio Fernandez & Vargas Abogados. Her law firm has a client base in Peru and beyond, with international clientele also looking for legal support. With an impressive legal background, Maria speaks to Lawyer Monthly about her journey into law, US and Peruvian relations and how globalisation is…
Maria Luz Vargas is the Managing Partner of Estudio Fernandez & Vargas Abogados. Her law firm has a client base in Peru and beyond, with international clientele also looking for legal support. With an impressive legal background, Maria speaks to Lawyer Monthly about her journey into law, US and Peruvian relations and how globalisation is impacting the legal sector for the better.
How do you see globalisation changing areas of law for businesses in 2018?
Globalisation has had a strong impact in all business areas. Companies want to expand their markets or areas of operation to countries which have had good economic success like Peru and either start operations or buy local companies. Strong understanding of the business and legal environment is critical to succeed. On the other hand, Peruvian companies have been experiencing strong growth in recent years and they are in turn looking to expand overseas.
This new economic order where companies want to be global players is an important challenge for lawyers who need to have an international background and experience and need to be able to understand and operate in other cultures. A strong understanding of other countries legal systems and ensuring an international network to support our clients worldwide is critical to succeed too.
How are current relations with the US and Peru? What do you think could be done to further improve change?
Current relations between Peru the US continue to be strong. The United States is one of our main trading partners and we have a Free Trade Agreement in place since 2009. Bilateral trade with the United States represent a fifth of all our international trade.
Our government has been committed for the last 25 years to an open trade and investment economy where US companies have played a very important role investing in several economic sectors. This is a very important factor for our Law firm since we have many clients from the US, and we are very active with the American Chamber of Commerce.
The United States is the second market in the world for our exports after China. Our exporters are not taking full advantage of the Free Trade Agreement. We believe our Ministry of Foreign Trade, as well as the National Association of Exporters, should make a bigger effort to raise awareness and to train our medium and small size companies how to take better advantage of this important market and our trade agreement. Likewise, our exporters should also explore and expand into different US markets beyond the main and best known ones (i.e. California, New York, Florida). The American Chamber of Commerce has been very active in inviting commercial missions of different states to meet new trade partners in Peru.
You are qualified in a range of legal areas; which is your favourite and why?
My favourite is corporate law, because it is a field of law with strong interaction with businesses across all sectors of the economy, where a more thorough knowledge and understanding of the activities and operations of your client is required in order to provide effective legal advice. A multi-disciplinary approach is required which impacts our clients’ overall business. We need to understand finance, marketing, commercial operations, every aspect of the business, and how everything is interconnected. This field gives me the opportunity to interact with professionals of different backgrounds and fields which allow me to have a broader focus and better perspective. This allows me to provide more effective legal advice to my clients.
What was your most favourite achievement of 2017 and what are you looking forward to in the upcoming year?
My most rewarding achievements in 2017 were related to our Intellectual Property Department, specifically in the field of Copyright Law. This past year we supported the Art Museum of Lima, with whom we work pro bono, to create a virtual archive of its wonderful and rich collection of Peruvian art. This has never been done in Peru before and has given me the opportunity to contribute to show our rich culture to a broader population.
Likewise, we also had the opportunity to advise the family of a renowned visual artist to manage Intellectual property rights within the framework of an intestate succession after the dead of said artist. Our contribution started when the family noticed the unauthorised use of a visual work during an International Biennal Art Event. In response to this act, we saw the need to implement an Intellectual Property management system, which included the protection of a seal used by the artist as service mark to cover copyright management, preparation of structure of powers between legal heirs to grant copyright licenses of use, preparation of certificates of authenticity for genuine works and authorised copies, and a notice in social networks to inform public about such copyright management. It was a very interesting operation which involved several areas of law: intellectual property, licensing, family law, corporate, art and cultural institutions law, among others.
What enabled you to determine that the legal profession was for you?
I have always been a person that fought for what was fair and just, and would always like to participate in debates, to organise my arguments in order to express my ideas and positions. During my last year of high school we had different guest speakers from different professionals. I had the opportunity to listen to a lawyer describe the profession and his experience and I decided that was the career path I wanted to follow.
What is the most challenging case you have dealt with so far, and how did you overcome such challenge?
The most challenging case I ever faced in my profession was participating in the purchase of a local beverage company, which is one of the icons of our culture, by one of the world leaders of beverages. It was an operation that took place in a time when globalisation was not as extended as it is now, where the acquired company was a family-owned company whose organisation, policies, structure and culture were very different from those of a large multinational corporation. My experience as a Peruvian lawyer, with a US education gave me the experience to successfully advise my clients to pursue the acquisition of this local company and to continue supporting my client to merge both business cultures and continue its operations successfully in Peru.
What was one lesson you learnt when transitioning from law school to practising?
I started being in contact with the legal processes when I was very young and watched the TV show ‘Paper Chase’. I was fascinated with Professor Kingsfield’s class at Harvard University where he taught his students how to support their arguments and especially how to develop legal reasoning. During my last years of law school I did an internship with the Judicial Branch and the first thing I learned was how different reality was from the world at the University, and litigating was not as easy as you saw it in books, where not only good legal arguments were required to win a case but also to understand all the legal structures and mechanisms of the organisations.
Finally, in what way would you say that your law firm stands out from the rest?
Our law firm is a medium-size law firm with lawyers from diverse and strong backgrounds, coming from both the public and private sectors. Having an international experience and strong network is key. All clients, large or small or pro-bono, receive a personalised and high-standard of service. Our structure ensures partners and senior lawyers are fully involved with our clients permanently. As we grow, we make sure we maintain this level of high-quality and personalised service.
María Luz Vargas Chávez
Calle Jose Galvez N 692 – Of.302
Miraflores, Lima 18, Peru
Managing Partner María Luz Vargas Chávez was admitted in 1989 after studying at Universidad Católica Santa Maria de Arequipa, Perú and completing her post graduate studies at University of Houston with a Master’s Degree in International Economic Law. Being multilingual in Spanish, English, French, Italian and Portuguese, Maria’s areas of expertise are: Corporate Law; Securities; Banking and Insurance Law; Bankruptcy; Foreign Investment; Antitrust and Competition Law, Consumer Protection and Advertising Law.
Fernandez & Vargas Abogados is a full service law firm which has an in-depth knowledge of Peruvian legislation and our group of exceptionally qualified lawyers are trained to offer legal counsel in different areas of law, combining our comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the business needs of our clients and the different areas of law in order to provide the appropriate legal advice.
Our team maintains the highest ethical standards and always strives for professional excellence, seeking long-term relationships, mutual collaboration and absolute dedication to our clients.