How will the new labor reform law impact Mexican companies?
The new reforms are actually taking us backwards. In the past, we didn't see as many human rights negotiations in areas such as gender equality and discrimination. Prior to the reforms in May 2019, you couldn't file a claim or a suit for sexual harassment in the labor environment but now you can, and that is the only advantage of the new reform in my opinion. In 2012, there were other reforms that made the working system between employees and employers fairer. The new reforms are similar to the labor laws that were introduced in 1931. Such laws allow social rights groups to put all the blame on the employer. In the past, employers had the ability to persuade employees to buy clothing and food from their own stores, for example. Nowadays, with all the technology, communications, and new systems we have, it is not necessary to make employers prove everything. There is also a new accessory law that claims that all unions have to activate or legitimize themselves. Employees have to vote for the union they want. After that, they have to ratify their vote one by one. After a collective negotiation, or once a deal is made, employees can veto it.
How would you compare the performance of the law firm in 2019 to 2018?
Our performance in 2019 was quite similar to 2018, but it was impacted by a general slowdown of the Mexican economy. We got a lot of new clients and retained all of our old clients, but the economy stayed flat. As a result, clients started to delay payments. We have a presence in all sectors, from mining to transportation, industry, and pharmaceuticals. We are also in technology and services. In 2019, we saw a lot of collective agreements and strikes, as well as individual litigations.
What is the main added value that Maillard offers?
One advantage that we offer is our specialization. We don't hire lawyers from other law firms. We only hire new lawyers and train them in line with our values, goals, and vision. If you compare us to the rest of the industry, we're one of the law firms with the lowest employee turnover at just 18%. The other added value is our technology. One of the services we offer that no other law firm in Mexico offers is that all of our clients' trials are on the cloud. No other labor legal law firm has the technology we have. Clients don't need to call use every month to learn what is happening with their case; they can access that information anytime with the click of a button. This means our clients can access their trials on the cloud. We are developing an app that will allow them to scan a QR code for immediate access. We also have a new agreement with a company to develop an AI system that will specialize exclusively in Mexican labor law. We see this as the future.
What do you think of the conditions of the new NAFTA agreement?
They are clearly aggressive toward Mexico. By forcing some companies to move back to the US, which is something the democratic party in particular is pushing for, more jobs will be created in the US as opposed to Mexico. This would hurt the industry in Mexico. We have to be positive, competitive, and continue working hard to make sure we keep growing and not be afraid of the government's policies. They want to take manufacturing back to the US, especially manufacturing of cars and auto parts, as well as steel and metallurgy. We can help these companies by negotiating with chambers of commerce so that new reforms that would hurt these companies do not pass. If you are a new company and you want to be an entrepreneur in Mexico, you need to pay nearly 70% in taxes. If there are no new companies, the competition will die out. It's hurting the sector.