On Wednesday 20 April, az | albagli zaliasnik, together with nine leading firms in the region, officially launched the Compliance Latam digital platform.  The platform specializes in issues and cases related to regulatory compliance in the broadest sense: crime prevention, personal data protection, ESP (environmental, social and governance) issues.

The initiative considers the permanent participation of 10 law firms from Latin America and the United States: Albagli Zaliasnik az (Chile), Basham (Mexico), Beccar Varela (Argentina), BLP (Central America), Bustamante Fabara (Ecuador), CPB (Peru), Damarest (Brazil), Ferrere (Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia), Miller & Chevalier (USA) and Posse Herrera Ruiz (Colombia).

The project originated during the pandemic when a group of lawyers from Chile, led by Rodrigo Albagli, embarked on the development of a cross-border Compliance guide, to address the urgency of their clients in the face of the intense regulatory changes resulting from Covid-19 and involving adjustments in labour, tax, customs and other related issues. "Clients were very demanding, especially those with ties to other countries or transnationals, and in this context, the firm activated its networks with its peers in the region and we were able to publish a Compliance guide linked to Covid", explains Albagli.

Subsequently, the text was reissued in 2021 and new firms joined, including Miller & Chevalier, a US firm specializing in compliance issues, with whom they produced a comparative document of what each jurisdiction was doing in certain areas related to regulatory and governance issues.

From this, Albagli says, "the desire was there" and an interesting niche to work in at the regional level, where there is currently not much to explore in these matters and where the network also offered them the option of general business flows. "When Miller & Chevilier joined, they themselves suggested other firms in Central America and Argentina, and by the end of the year we had the group of firms that we are today," he explains.

The structure of the network

In total, the network covers 15 jurisdictions (some firms cover more than one country) and there are more than 1,500 lawyers involved.  To shape the project, two committees were created: one for strategy and business and the other for communications and marketing. With the first, they seek to generate links with a view to seeking opportunities for transnational legal advice and, in turn, to promote good practices.  The second is in charge of disseminating the platform and its contents.

At the same time, they have hired a general coordinator, who is exclusively dedicated to promoting the platform, generating contacts and exchanging information.  In the first stage, they seek to make the initiative visible and to generate a volume of audience that will allow them to "go beyond presence" in a second phase with a regional congress, in addition to adding other countries and specialists to the network.

"Although the idea is to maintain one firm per country, we want to grow by adding company compliance officers, legal managers and company directors as active members in the generation of content," says Albagli.

His peers in the alliance confirm the above and add that one of the aspects that motivated them to participate was "the challenge of the project, the large firms that participate, the target audience (compliance officers), the number of participants and the focus we are putting on it, showing Compliance as a tool for companies' rentability," says Carla Arellano, leader of the area of the Ferrere study.

Regional challenges

Improving the compliance standards of the different industries is also a determining factor for the members of the network, and according to Juan Carlos Tristán, partner of the Central American firm BLP, the fact that this is done through a collaborative platform is key to creating a cluster of "Knowledge, experience and best practices".

For his part, Rodolfo Barreda, advisor to the Mexican firm Basham, highlights the importance that these matters have been taking on in the day-to-day work of companies in the region, especially after experiences as complex as the Odebrecht case.  Hence, "an alliance between legal professionals is very beneficial for the region in consideration of the region's background, as well as the need for a boom in the matter," he explains.

In this sense, Gustavo Papeschi, from BeccarVarela, points out that the challenges of compliance are common to the whole region, and many times the subject matter exceeds the internal legislation and the internal political ups and downs of each country.

At Miller & Chevalier they see it "as an opportunity for law firms and in-house practitioners around Latin America to share ideas and grow from each other's experiences, and also for member firms to be considered by firms to meet those challenges," concludes Jeffery Lehtman, the US firm's cross-border compliance partner.

Currently, the site features the participation of leading Latin American specialists and leaders on topics such as ESG, anti-corruption models, free competition, data protection and privacy, consumer protection, corporate and labor compliance, regulatory compliance, tax compliance, corporate governance, corporate culture, codes of ethics, and human rights.