Spanish legal and tax services firm Garrigues courtesy photo

Spanish legal and tax services firm Garrigues has continued to expand its fast-growing Latin America practice with the hire of Chile labor and employment expert Barbara Vera.

Vera, who formerly headed the labor law department at Chilean state-owned copper mining company Codelco, will now lead 1,300-lawyer Garrigues’ practice in Chile.

Garrigues local managing partner Luis Felipe Merino said that the hire of Vera, who also previously had stints at local law firms Carey and Claro y Cía, was “a clear step forward” in the firm’s strategy of establishing itself as the “leading corporate legal advisory firm” in Chile.

Garrigues, the world’s 32nd-largest law firm by lawyer head count, has invested heavily in Latin America over the past five years and now has more than 120 attorneys and five offices in the region, including 30 in Chile.

The firm previously covered the region through an alliance with several local firms, called Affinitas, which it established in 2004. But the firm nixed that network in 2013 in favor of running its own outposts in Latin America, starting with Bogota, Colombia.

It bolstered its presence in early 2014 with the hire of a tax team from local firm Zarama y Asociados, led by Fernando Zarama, the former director of the Colombian tax agency. Garrigues then merged with Colombia’s De la Calle, Londoño, López y Posada in 2015, and last year established a presence in Chile by formally combining with its local ally Avendaño Merino.

The firm’s Latin American revenue increased by over 80 percent in the last fiscal year, to around 20 million euros ($24 million), and is expected to hit 30 million euros ($36 million) in 2017.

That would equate to over 8 percent of Garrigues’ total firmwide revenue, which inched up 3.1 percent last year, to 349.4 million euros ($415.7 million).