6 November 2015
To strengthen relationships with international clients and firms that Mayer Brown works with overseas, the firm's Houston office, among several, is hosting foreign trainees and hiring foreign associates.
It's a "terrific way" to deepen relationships, said Dallas Parker, a corporate and securities partner who heads the practice in Houston. "We learn from them, and they learn from us. We learn a lot about the local markets and culture."
Over the last few years, the Houston office has had foreign trainees who are not paid by Mayer Brown, but are in Houston to learn the oil and gas business by working with partners on nonclient projects. The firm also hires foreign associates, who are working temporarily for the firm, and generally come from a firm with a relationship with Mayer Brown, Parker said.
"It's a win-win. We feel like we gain a lot from it through cultural awareness and appreciation," Parker said.
Instead of taking a corporate position at a big New York City firm after completing his LL.M. degree at Columbia in 2014, Diego Perez instead moved to Houston to do oil and gas law at Mayer Brown, and plans to return next year to his home country of Peru.
Perez said he practiced for about six years in Peru at Muniz, Ramirez, Perez-Taiman & Olaya, doing corporate law and oil and gas law, so the opportunity to practice at Mayer Brown in Houston fits his interest.
In addition to networking opportunities within the firm, and training in U.S. oil and gas law, Perez said his stint at Mayer Brown is giving him a better understanding of the American legal system. "Being inside … puts me in a better position for the future," he said. Perez said he hopes to return to Muniz Ramirez to practice oil and gas law.
Parker said that as a foreign associate while in Houston, Perez works on projects just as other associates do. "He has been very helpful in keeping up with the developments in Mexico. He speaks excellent English and Spanish, which is just perfect for our office," Parker said.
Before Perez joined the firm, Parker said, an associate from a Chilean firm worked in the Houston office as a foreign associate for six months. He said the firm will bring on another foreign associate, perhaps one from Mexico, after Perez leaves next year.
The Houston office has also hosted in-house lawyers from clients as foreign trainees, who remain employees of their company but observe and train in Houston, Parker said.
"We kind of have them rotate from partner to partner in a planned fashion, and each partner is to educate that person in their area of specialty," Parker said.
Sotaro Kamei, an in-house legal counsel at a large global energy company based in Japan, said he spent several months at Mayer Brown in Houston as a trainee in 2014 and 2015 to learn about energy law and energy transactions. In an interview in 2014, Kamei said he also learned how U.S. lawyers handle transactions and how to prepare for meetings with U.S. lawyers. "I will be able to know what they want and what they don't want," he said.
Reprinted with permission from the November 6, 2015 edition of Texas Lawyer © 2015 ALM Properties, Inc. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited.