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Mayer Brown announced Wednesday that it has formally hung up a shingle in Mexico City, where it will serve clients in the oil, gas and power industries as they capitalize on Mexico’s unfolding energy sector reform.

The firm’s move flows from Mexico’s move last year to end a decades-old state monopoly in the energy sector and welcome private investment, according to Dallas Parker, leader of Mayer Brown’s Mexico Energy Reform initiative and its corporate and securities practice in Houston.

“We saw this as an opportunity to become knowledge leaders,” Parker said, adding that members of the firm’s Houston office have been eyeing a Mexico City outpost for the last couple of years. They received approval from Mayer Brown’s executive committee to move forward in December of last year, he said.

Mayer Brown first revealed its designs on Mexico City in March, when it announced it had hired Francisco Mendez as a partner in its global energy group based in Houston. Previously, Mendez spent two decades at ExxonMobil Corp., where he served as in-house counsel for Latin America and advised on the opening of Mexico’s energy sector, according to the firm.

Mendez will be the face of the Mexico City office, taking advantage of the short one-and-ahalf hour flight between the city and Houston. Parker said that while Mendez will be the sole partner with a Mexico City address for now, he'll have ample support from him and from global energy partners Alexandre Chequer, based in Rio de Janeiro, and Jose Valera and Pablo Ferrante, both based in Houston, along with associate Gabriel Salinas.

Parker said the office can easily grow to meet future client demand. Mayer Brown has already been engaged by number of clients such as oil companies and financial institutions to represent them in Mexico, he said.

Tony Payan, director of the Mexico Center at Rice University’s Baker Institute, previously told The Am Law Daily that Mexico City is in the midst of an expanding U.S. law firm presence that includes Baker & McKenzie, Haynes and Boone and Chadbourne & Parke, among others.

State-owned behemoth Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) had controlled Mexico’s oil and gas industry since its nationalization in 1938. In the wake of the recent reforms, the opening up of Mexico’s energy sector promises to play over a long period, Parker said Wednesday.

He cited increasing demands for energy and new investments in pipelines and refineries as some of the areas yielding potential legal work.

Reprinted with permission from the August 12, 2015 edition of The Am Law Daily © 2015 ALM Properties, Inc. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited.