Guatemala City-based QIL Abogados announced that it has merged with 4 Abogados and, effective immediately, it operates as QIL+4 Abogados.

The combined entity comprises eight partners: Jorge Martinez Sanche, Ana Gabriela Roca, and Alejandro Cofiño from 4 Abogados, and María Isabel Luján Zilbermann, Marcos Ibargüen, Estuardo Mata Palmieri, Jose Quiñonez, and Evelyn Rebuli Villavicencio from QIL Abogados.

4 Abogados focused on financial transactions and energy and infrastructure, while QIL leaned toward syndicated loans, M&A, tax, labor, dispute resolution, and real estate, among other areas. The firm expects its energy and infrastructure and mining practices to gain bench strength from the tie-up.

Quiñonez, co-founder of QIL+4 and its predecessor QIL, said he expects the entity springing from the merger of two relatively small operations to possess a cohesion markedly absent from other merged law firms. In the past, clients have complained about their experience when dealing with the offices of regional firms that are theoretically under the same corporate umbrella, but in reality are unintegrated. He said the final decision to take action came at a strategic planning meeting in March 2014.

“We decided this was an area of opportunity to offer a strong, client driven firm,” he said. “We found that QIL and 4 Abogados shared the values and culture that constitutes their competitive advantage, with the added benefit that we complemented each other on our areas of practice, client base and organizational structure. This was a win-win for everybody.”

In the region, one of the latest trends is firms merging to form regional entities. In November 2014, a group of firms from Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama pooled their resources to form LatamLex Abogados. Quiñonez says he avoided that route because of a clash in cultures.

“As far as regional integration for us, this is something that prevails in our mid-term strategic analysis but that we are working on to ensure that it is done consistent with our work culture, standards and that provides the client with a more robust and integrated solution more than a convenient billing arrangement,” he said.

Quiñonez noted clients are starting to look at the best firms locally.

“People are starting to look at the best firms locally and that doesn’t always mean the convenience of a regional branding,” he said. “Other firms have been receiving the merger very well, so we are confident that this will be an opportunity for us to shift the focus more to quality services than convenience. We will continue to work with the top firms in the region, and continuously put together the best regional teams for regional deals from our network.”

Quiñonez added that the new name was a simple way to enhance individual brand recognition.

A partner from a competing firm in Guatemala told IFLR1000 that the merger is a “good match” and “makes a lot of sense” because of what both firms bring to the table.

“4 has a strong group of young qualified lawyers,” the partner noted. “They are very involved in infrastructure and financing. The merged firms will get a lot of new work from several interesting clients.”