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Basham bullish about future office expansion

After 90 years of operating solely out of Mexico City firm, partners at full-service law firm Basham began the firm’s office expansion across the Latin American country in 2000 by opening the doors of its second location in the industrial city of Monterrey.

Basham Partner, Carlos Velazquez de Leon, readily volunteered at that point to relocate to Monterrey – some 900 kilometres away from the firm’s Mexico City HQ – and so the expansion of Mexico’s oldest law firm began. The success of the Monterrey-based legal team saw additional offices follow as the firm pushed into Queretaro in 2004 and then into the city of Leon in 2018, further cementing Basham’s reputation as Mexico’s premier law firm.

“Being local is very important to us here at Basham,” says Velazquez de Leon. “It’s a genuine advantage for us to have people on the ground in industrial cities across Mexico. Mexican people prefer to deal with local people, they don’t always welcome the big lawyers from the big city. I think one of the most attractive things for any client about coming to work with Basham, whether they are from Mexico or from overseas, is our growing network of offices in the industrial cities and regions across Mexico.”

Velazquez de Leon uses the word “growing” because Basham’s fellow partners have already ear-marked a number of Mexican cities that could soon benefit from having a Basham office within their city limits, as Velazquez de Leon explains: “We plan to open a number of new offices in the years to come. Mexico is a very large country and externally many people often only think of Mexico City and Cancun when they think of Mexico, but the rest of the country is huge with a lot of industry spread around. That means opportunities for Basham and our global clients.

In terms of clients, the firm’s 130+ fee earners represent the interests of many Fortune 500 companies including the likes of AAM, Bank of America, Coca Cola Company, Colgate-Palmolive, Crown Cork, Diageo, NBC Universal, PPG Industries, VF Corporation, Walmart and Volkswagen in the region.

“Clients come to us because of the quality of our services,” adds Velazquez de Leon. “Our expertise is, I would love to say, legendary because of our history, but also for our vibrant present. We have been around for 110 years now in Mexico, so people know us very well, but clients also notice that Basham is a modern, human oriented and technology advanced Law Firm. As a one-stop-shop, full-service firm, it is very convenient for clients to come here, especially clients from overseas, as we can manage everything for them here. I’d say 70-80% of our clients today are based overseas. Our lawyers are all at least bilingual, some tri-lingual, so we are very well set up to work with foreign investors coming into Mexico.”

Lex Mundi is our most important alliance; we truly feel that we have legal partners in every city in the world.

Carlos Velazquez de Leon Partner

Key to Basham’s global growth over the last 15 years has been its membership of Lex Mundi – a relationship that gives Basham the genuine global reach that compliments its ethos of having its footprint in important local industrial centres.

Velazquez de Leon goes on: “Lex Mundi is the most important alliance that we are involved in and as a result we truly feel that we have legal partners in every city in the world. We work very closely with the other law firms in the network – particularly in the US – and across the firm we have many personal friendships with lawyers that we consider our partners outside Mexico.”

“At Basham we have a saying – ‘if you are a shoemaker, make shoes’. That basically means stick to what you know and do what you are good at. We do not want to be Mexican lawyers in New York city or in London. We are not locals in those cities. We don’t know the environment, we don’t know the people’s minds or their laws, so having close partnerships through Lex Mundi with high quality lawyers in those markets is a huge advantage to us and our clients and we value it very much.”

Aligned to quality of life, developing a strong company culture is also very important to Basham. So much so that shortly after Velazquez de Leon set up the Monterrey office, the firm launched ‘The Basham Way’. The Basham Way is a firm-wide approach to ensuring that through regular professional and social interaction across the Basham office network, everyone working at the firm embraces a shared company culture, its approach to working and playing as a team and, also, a way to celebrate Basham’s Mexican history and heritage.

Velazquez de Leon says: “Culture is very important for us at Basham and it’s important that our lawyers know each other and can work closely together on deals, even if they are not based in the same office. We invest a lot to make sure we have a good company culture and make sure our lawyers visit our other offices so that culture can be shared and strengthened throughout the network.

And despite being originally founded by American lawyers in 1912, today Basham is a Mexican law firm through and through as Velazquez de Leon confirms: “Most law firms here have Mexican-sounding names. Basham sounds quite American, but we don’t want to be thought of or feel like an American firm. We are Mexican and we are very proud of that. We have the most beautiful Mexican coffee and beautiful Mexican art waiting for clients in our offices that really support our Mexican culture. If your busines is coming to Mexico, you need to speak to the premier Mexican law firm, Basham.”

So, it may have taken 90 years for Basham to open its second office in Mexico, but it shows no sign of slowing down their growth anytime soon. That’s the Basham Way.