35 Years of Leadership: Jorge León Orantes

Jorge León Orantes
Santamarina y Steta S.C., Mexico

WLG Business Development Committee Chair 2011–2015
WLG Board Member 2011–2013 and 2018–2020

How did you first get involved with WLG, and what led you to take on a leadership position?

    My first participation in World Law Group activity was in the Harvard leadership program that was organized for Senior Associates and Junior Partners during the semi-annual conference in Minneapolis. I did not participate in the semi-annual conference itself; I only participated in the leadership program. I really liked the program and the participants, and asked Alejandro Delgado, who was the partner at Santamarina + Steta with whom I worked a lot and a WLG Key Contact Partner, to allow me to be more involved in the network. He agreed and my first participation in a semi-annual conference was in the Oslo meeting. The second Key Contact Partner of my firm back then was Jorge Barrero, who recommended that I join the Business Development Committee. I started participating in the monthly meetings of the Business Development Committee and after a couple of years, then chair Geoffrey Walker from Andrews Kurth (now Hunton Andrews Kurth) asked if I would be interested in serving as a Chair of the Committee. I, of course, agreed. I was then approached by David Kay, from Drinker Biddle & Reath (now Faegre Drinker) to see if I would like to serve on the Board of Directors that was going to be chaired by him. I obviously said yes as well! That was my first participation on the Board and in a leadership role on the Business Development Committee. I served as chair of the Business Development Committee for two terms. My second term on the Board was as Americas Regional Director.

    What has been the most meaningful accomplishment during your time as a member of the board and/or Business Development Committee?

      I had the opportunity to participate in several important matters for the organization. I can recall my participation in the creation of World Law Group's current logo and branding during David Kay’s Board. During David’s Board, we also worked to develop the Policy Governing Member Firms' Jurisdictional Limits in WLG Activities. Recognizing that some firms have a presence in jurisdictions represented by other member firms, the Board worked on policies to ensure each firm maintains ownership of its WLG jurisdiction. During my second term on the Board of Directors, then-president Christian Traichel led us through decisions that needed to be made quickly considering the COVID situation. None of us had experience in navigating a pandemic, but the teamwork led by Christian resulted in very positive decisions for World Law Group that benefited the organization not only during said contingency but also in the long run.

      As for the Business Development Committee, I recall participating in the creation of the profiles of member firms. The idea was to have a one-page document readily available with key information about member firms to be able to share when we are asked to recommend a firm from a certain jurisdiction. It allows us to be able to react very quickly and make timely referrals.

      While serving on the Board, the Business Development Committee and/or as a Key Contact Partner for your firm, what more did you learn about WLG and its value to members?

        One of the most valuable things about World Law Group is the ability to share experiences and learn from lawyers of top-tier firms from around the world in very candid discussions about the way we run our firms and best practices that we can share amongst each other in a very respectful, friendly and confidential environment. I have received very important mentoring from senior lawyers in different areas from around the world. Also, the close personal relationships that we build by meeting twice a year result in greater accountability amongst us which increases the service that we are able to provide to our clients; the client ends up benefiting from said accountability and we feel more comfortable when making referrals amongst us, knowing that the clients will be well served by top-tier firms, experts in their respective jurisdictions, on a very quick, effective, and cost-efficient basis.

        What is your advice to lawyers who want to get more involved or take on a leadership position in the WLG network?

          Being able to participate in activities of World Law Group is great, however, being more visible is always more fruitful in the long run. My advice would be to try to be more vocal and visible, and offer yourself to do more voluntary things for the organization when the opportunity arises; participate more. Also, to the extent possible, let people get to know you more and create personal relationships that will help to build trust, which ultimately will result in more collaboration.

          As we reflect upon our growth during our 35th anniversary, tell us about the changes you've seen in the network during the years you have been involved and what leads you to believe our best days are ahead of us.

            I have seen the organization grow and the member firms involve more faces, allowing these new faces to build their international networks within our own network. This allows us to increase the connectivity among member firms expanding the number of contacts and therefore potential referrals at different levels of our firms. As we increase the number of lawyers from our firms participating in World Law Group, the organization gets stronger and more valuable. This is a trend that I am seeing and I am very enthusiastic about it.