Meet Dentons' New CEO
"What we're trying to do has not been done in the past," says Jorge Alers. Yesterday, we spoke with Dentons' first-ever CEO for Latin America and the Caribbean.
"The idea in the near term is to be in all of the important markets in the region," says Jorge. There are no pan-Latin America law firms, so that presence will have to be created through numerous mergers in different countries. Despite its frequent client work in the region, none of Dentons' 75 offices are in Latin America, so a key part of Jorge's new role is facilitating those "whole firm combinations."
Jorge joins Dentons from the Inter-American Development Bank (provider of $12 billion in loans and grants), where he was its GC and general manager of the legal department. Prior to that, he'd been head of Latin America practices at Paul Hastings and Wilmer Cutler & Pickering. In his new corner office, which overlooks McPherson Square, we snapped a table crowded with deal toys. (Across the room is one shaped like a mini wine barrel, courtesy of a wine-loving mining client.)
Jorge first met Dentons global chair Joe Andrew while living in Costa Rica, when Joe's wife was ambassador to the country. This spring, the two started talking about the possibility of Jorge leading the effort for Dentons to grow a physical presence in Latin America. Jorge was interested, influenced by his observations from IDB—financial flows into Latin America from around the world, thus a need for local counsel to have access to lawyers around the world, and investments moving "south-south," so a need for international companies to have local lawyers guide them.
A dual citizen of the US and Costa Rica, Jorge shows us a photograph of his family with his parents in Costa Rica. He was born there and moved back with his family for several years between working at Paul Hastings and the IDB. Since joining Dentons, he tells us he's heard from many of the top firms in the region, interested in speaking with them. Frequently Latin America is spoken about as a monolithic region, he says, but it can't always be generalized. You're going to have to focus on each country individually, and "adjust to the realities of each country."