DIEGO RUIZ DURÁN

Mexico 2021 | DIPLOMACY & ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

Given the need for a criminal law firm in Mexico that is benchmarked against international law firms, Bufete Ruiz Durán seeks to make a key difference to the local legal system.

Diego Ruiz Durán
BIOGRAPHY

Diego Ruiz Durán is a lawyer with a special in criminal science. He has a master's in criminology from Oxford University and another in applied criminology from Universidad Francisco de Vitoria in Madrid. He also has a postgraduate degree from Cambridge, New York University, and MIT. Durán has collaborated with prestigious law firms including White & Case, Mijares, Angoitia Cortés y Fuentes y Nassar, and Nassar y Asociados as well as in the public sector. Since 2012, he has presided Bufete Ruiz Durán and is dedicated to penal and constitutional law. He is a member of the Mexican Bar Association and is a professor of criminology with a specialty in law and penal science.

In what way has your business in criminal law overall in Mexico been impacted by the pandemic and all the changes in 2020?

It has been 180-degree turn due to the fact that for the latter part of the year we have not been able to go out and engage with the authorities for our cases. Second, for the latter part of the year, the juries and hearings are not as good because the judges get desperate with the online platforms they are using, and the resources are limited. That does not play only to the judicial part of the system but also to attorneys and as well to the AG's office, be it state attorneys or district attorneys because we were not ready for this pandemic in every sense. In a system such as ours and a system that we are trying to achieve, even though the government does not let that happen often, there is a need for a back and forth between the judge and the defendant, and there has to be a rapport between all parties involved in the case. A platform like Zoom prevents that from happening.

Has your law firm had to educate clients on why it is important to choose a law firm that has certifications?

In Mexico, criminal law has always been some sort of a commodity. Criminal law was used as a market to reach certain goals, be it political or commercial. Our current administration made the situation even worse because it is the worst-ever attorney general that we have ever seen, at least since I started working. It has literally corrupted the way that the whole law system is supposed to work, and we have seen this in political cases and regular cases. We changed systems to ensure it is more respectful of human rights and of the process as well as the victims. But now, for example, ex-party meetings are handled without any kind of supervision, which is completely prohibited. There is nothing that we can do, so they are literally creating a bigger problem that is wider and deeper than what it was with the previous administration. Criminal attorneys who have fought so much for the institution of the overall tribunal are now dealing with a mild neglect to the previous system. This is a serious indicator of where we are with criminal law in Mexico.

What opportunities did you identify in the Mexican legal markets that inspired the creation of Bufete?

We saw a need for a good criminal law firm that handled cases differently to what was being done in Mexico at the time. We sought to establish our benchmark under the image of big criminal law firms within the US and the UK where we add a partner to every case. There is a junior partner on and two associates on every case. That way, we dedicate a limited number of resources but the client is always protected, and they always feel engaged with the clients. You present a united front and show them the good and bad, which sometimes tend to be bad for business. Most law firms do not meet international criteria for compliance, but we are 100% compliant. It takes some time to educate most of the authorities when it comes to anti-corruption matters and anti-favor matters because that is the way it has always been in Mexico, at least in criminal law. During the pandemic, the situation with corruption has grown worse exponentially, and with the current administration corruption and criminal law has been terrible since its inception. With the pandemic, it became like The Hunger Games because there was a great deal of chaos, no work, and salary reductions, and everyone just wanted to get their share so corruption got significantly worse.