Features

Maria Perez Borja – CBRE

Ensuring legal helps build up CBRE in LATAM

Working as an in-house lawyer for a global real estate company is a complex and multifaceted role that involves navigating the ever-changing real estate landscape and legal regulations. But that is just the way Maria Perez Borja likes it.

Maria is the legal director for LATAM for Global Workplace Solutions at CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm. With her extensive experience and expertise in legal matters, she ensures that the legal team is an integral part of the conversation and is seen as a valuable solution throughout a project.

Maria Perez Borja | Legal Director for LATAM for Global Workplace Solutions (GWS) | CBRE

Maria Perez Borja | Legal Director for LATAM for Global Workplace Solutions (GWS) | CBRE

“We operate in a complex and interconnected environment, with operations and stakeholders spanning multiple jurisdictions,” Maria tells Vanguard in January from Mexico City. “We must have a seat at the table from the outset.”

To ensure that the legal team is involved from the start of a project, Maria emphasizes the importance of substantiating all commercial relationships through legal documentation such as contracts, letters of intent, purchase orders and statements of work. She ensures certainty and manageable risks for CBRE’s clients by addressing all legal matters upfront, and she works towards familiarizing all workstreams and clients by involving the legal department at the initial stages of a project, which guarantees a smooth project execution and risk mitigation for both CBRE and its clients.

Having a global role means Maria faces the challenge of managing legal matters in a vast and diverse region. Latin America encompasses countries with various cultural, economic and legal differences. However, Maria believes that understanding each country’s unique aspects while approaching projects is crucial for competitiveness, pragmatism, and addressing clients’ specific needs.

A part of the business

Maria’s efforts to make the legal department an active participant in the conversation comprises several key actions. She reviews all documents with respect to the Request for Proposal (RFP) process, such as NDAs, contracts, policies, and terms and conditions, among others. She  attends meetings with potential and current clients and joins weekly calls with all workstreams to stay updated on ongoing and new projects involving transition processes. Additionally, Maria must keep all teams updated on legal proceedings, which involves making monthly presentations on  relevant legal matters  with the Operations team and provide training sessions to inform them about new regulations and changes in the legal framework.

“Good communication can make the difference in creating integrated workstreams, stronger relationships and joint forces to achieve successful outcomes and happy clients. Client services is key to our business.”

Daily, Maria takes on multiple responsibilities to support CBRE’s legal department. She oversees all legal matters related to Global Workplace Solutions in LATAM and supports local legal teams in other LATAM countries directly or by coordinating with external counsel.

Maria Perez Borja | Global Director, Legal, LATAM Workplace Solutions | CBRE

Ensuring that all contracts are up to date and compliant with local laws is another essential responsibility she handles. She also focuses on standardization of templates, terms and conditions, and policies to promote efficiency in response times and ensure a uniformed practice across CBRE’s multiple projects. Furthermore, Maria actively integrates with other departments, leads training sessions, keeps track of any legal framework changes and updates and actively participates in meetings and calls with the GWS Legal team.

Another significant aspect of Maria’s role involves managing enterprise accounts (global accounts) and ECA accounts (in-country accounts). She is the main point of contact for such global accounts, making it her responsibility to oversee all legal matters during any transition proceeding, negotiating and finalizing any necessary local contracts for ensuring a smooth transition and resolving any legal concerns or contract breaches for the benefit of CBRE and the client. She also reviews Master Service Agreements and supports global teams with legal matters.

“For ECA accounts, I support the local team, assist in implementing new contracts with clients and vendors and assist in resolving any issues that may arise from time to time,” she says.

Un amor por la ley

Reflecting on her journey, Maria’s interest in Law stems from her fascination with humanities disciplines and her exposure to Law courses during her senior year of high school. She acknowledged that Law aligned perfectly with her skills and personality, offering intellectual challenges, constant learning, opportunities for networking and financial stability.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in Law from Universidad Anahuac in Mexico City and studied a Masters of Laws (LL.M) at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law. She spent over eight years in private practice for Jones Day before joining CBRE in May 2022.

Although she did not initially envision herself as an in-house lawyer, Maria found that working closely with one company, understanding its industry and commercial reasoning, and interacting with various stakeholders, provided a better work-life balance and multiple long-term career opportunities.

Maria Perez Borja | Global Director, Legal, LATAM Workplace Solutions | CBRE

“In my early years as a lawyer, I faced skepticism from peers and clients due to my age and lack of experience. However, I persevered and worked hard to prove myself, gain experience and show my ability to handle complex legal cases,” Maria recalls.

Looking forward, Maria sees herself continuing to practice Law in a senior position, gaining recognition and respect within the legal community. She hopes to achieve personal fulfilment, surrounded by loved ones and driven by new experiences and challenges.

In her free time, Maria prioritizes spending quality time with her family and close friends, enjoying the company of her newborn nephew, and exploring her passion for traveling.

“I love food, walking my dog and doing Pilates. I also enjoy learning and nurturing my intellectual curiosity through books, films and TV,” she adds.

 

View this feature in the Vanguard Spring II 2024 Edition here.

 

Published on: April 5, 2024

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