Miami Law Review Alumnus Takes on a Big Task: An Interview with Pedro Jimenez, Partner-in-Charge at Jones Day’s First Florida Office

PedroJimenezPhotoBY AMANDA PARRA — Pedro Jimenez, a partner at Jones Day and a former University of Miami Law Review member, has been keeping busy as he builds Jones Day’s new Miami office (and first in Florida) from the ground up.

Pedro, a Miami native, graduated magna cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law in 1998 and began his legal career at White & Case in Miami. Eight years ago, Pedro moved to New York to join Jones Day. Two years later, he became a partner. Just as he was settling into his New York life, Pedro was selected by the firm’s Managing Partner to return to Miami and carry out one of the firm’s strategic endeavors: becoming the leading firm doing business in and out of Latin America. Pedro’s return to his hometown is a sign of great things to come for the local legal community and for Miami Law graduates.

Jones Day is a global law firm with forty offices and more than 2,400 lawyers operating worldwide. The firm has been in existence for over 130 years and has always taken a long-term approach to growth. In fact, the firm has never closed an office. Pedro describes Jones Day as a firm that truly lives by its motto: “one firm worldwide.” In an exclusive statement, he commented:

What stands us apart from other great law firms is our culture … how the lawyers here treat each other. It’s not just about the bottom-line or about me and my practice, but really it’s about what I can do to make the entire firm better. I think this is what makes Jones Day an especially attractive firm for new lawyers.

Jones Day’s expansion is evidence of South Florida’s growing importance in the global economy. The decision to establish a firm in Miami came as a result of the firm’s successful practices in Florida and its newly established offices in Latin America. Pedro notes that Jones Day was already doing a lot of great work in Florida: “Our Firm is among the leaders in the number of Florida jury trials during the last five years.” But the firm’s successful expansion into Mexico and Brazil is what ultimately “sealed the deal.” Jones Day’s four-year-old Mexico City office is one of the largest international offices in Mexico, and, with recent growth, has the potential to become larger than any of the other international law firms that practice there. And its Brazil office, which opened two years ago, has also exceeded expectations. Thus, a South Florida office would not only solidify Jones Day’s presence in Florida, it would also strategically position the firm to service all of Latin America, in addition to Brazil and Mexico. And a Miami location, both geographically and culturally, allows the firm to do just that.

What is most impressive is that one of the University of Miami Law Review’s very own is leading Jones Day’s strategic expansion. When asked what qualities uniquely positioned him for the role of Partner-in-Charge, Pedro credits his deep Miami roots and Hispanic heritage. He says the firm’s practice has always been to “send someone who is from that city and who has relationships in that city, rather than transplanting people from other places.” Although he did not expect to be back in Miami at this point in his career, he claims the opportunity was made for him and “was too good to pass up.”

Of course, his proven success as both a lawyer and a leader also had something to do with his election. As a lawyer, Pedro has demonstrated his ability to build a strong and successful practice in restructuring and in U.S. and cross-border transactions. Meanwhile, his approach to leadership is innovative and refreshing. Associates who have worked with Pedro hold him in high regard and refer to him as a mentor.

Pedro’s unique leadership style is evident in the way he is building the Miami office. He characterizes his task as continuing one of the firm’s strongest traditions — to recruit the right talent, not just the best talent. Instead of relocating individuals from various Jones Day practice groups, Pedro is cherry-picking his team. In doing so, he looks for both partners and associates who are not only successful as lawyers or law students, but who also exhibit a genuine interest in working on international or cross-border transactions and who possess strong language skills—fluency in Spanish or Portuguese is a must. Pedro believes the talent he recruits is the future of the Miami office, so he also looks for lawyers that are committed to the South Florida community.

In a time when law school graduates are finding it difficult to start their careers, his advice to Miami Law graduates is uplifting:

I think it’s a great time to be a young lawyer in Miami. Compared to sixteen years ago when I graduated from law school, Miami and the Miami legal market has evolved tremendously. Not only are there more opportunities, but I think the quality of those opportunities has improved as well. I would be excited to be starting my legal career in Miami.

Jones Day’s newest office proves that Miami is in fact becoming a more attractive market for law firms. And thanks to Pedro’s leadership, Miami Law students will have the opportunity to become a part of the Jones Day team. Jones Day Miami actively recruited for its summer associate program on campus this past August. Pedro hopes that the program will be a long-term approach to recruiting the very best talent for the Miami office.

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