Horacio Gutiérrez, a University of Miami School of Law alumnus who is corporate vice president and deputy general counsel at the Microsoft Corporation, will be named "Lawyer of the Americas" by the Inter-American Law Review at its annual banquet in Miami on April 5.
"I am humbled by this recognition and thank the Inter-American Law Review for this consideration," Gutiérrez, a former adjunct faculty member at Miami Law, said after hearing the news. "As a proud Miami Law alumnus and a beneficiary of the school's longstanding commitment to the study of inter-American law, this honor holds special meaning for me."
Earlier on April 5, Gutiérrez – who graduated summa cum laude from Miami Law in 1998 – will speak at a breakfast event, the Dean's Miami Law Forum, in the law school's Faculty Meeting Room. Invited students will have the chance to meet Gutierrez at the gathering, which will be led by Professors Andres Sawicki and Terri Doud. He will also have coffee with faculty and alumni, a gathering sponsored by the Law Alumni Association.
Each year, the editors of the Inter-American Law Review single out for the honor a prominent and respected member of the legal community who has made significant contributions in the burgeoning field of international and inter-American law. This year's dinner, to be held at the JW Marriott Hotel on Brickell Avenue, will benefit the Claude M. Olds Scholarship Fund, which supports law students who are citizens or residents of a Latin American nation or who intend to specialize in the law and legal systems of the region. Previous "Lawyer of the Americas" honorees have included the Miami attorneys Carolyn Lamm, J.D. '73; Miguel Zaldivar, J.D. '95; and Salvador J. Juncadella, who graduated from the law school at the University of Havana.
"Horacio Gutierrez is the perfect Lawyer of the Americas," Juncadella said. "I worked for a long period of time with Horacio at Morgan Lewis on many international matters in the Americas and always he demonstrated to have a brilliant mind, superior knowledge of the law, creative ideas and the highest ethical standards in our legal profession, in addition to being a great gentleman and an excellent friend. I am very proud that Horacio is being granted the award this year.
At a recent meeting of the Hispanic National Bar Association in Atlanta, Gutiérrez announced the launch of the Microsoft IP Academy, an effort he helped organize to train Hispanic law students and to get more Hispanic lawyers into patents and other intellectual-property fields. The first 25 law students will be selected for the program's fellowships this summer.
As the person in charge of Microsoft's worldwide intellectual property group, Gutiérrez leads the group responsible for the development and maintenance and enforcement of the company's IP portfolio, including all its patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets around the world. The group is also responsible for inbound and outbound patent licensing work, and for the strategy and substance on IP legal and public policy developments. Before his current posting, Gutiérrez was based in Paris, where he was Microsoft's associate general counsel for Europe, Middle East and Africa, overseeing all legal, regulatory and government affairs matters in the region.
In response to a request from Miami Law, Gutiérrez provided the following recollections of his time at the school: "My years at Miami Law truly were transformational. While I had graduated from law school in Venezuela in 1986 and obtained an LL.M degree from Harvard Law School in 1991, it wasn't until I obtained my J.D. at UM that my career really took off. Soon after graduating I was hired by Microsoft, initially as a commercial attorney for the Latin America region, based in Fort Lauderdale, but was later transferred to Microsoft's corporate headquarters in Redmond, Washington, then to Paris as general counsel for Europe Middle East and Africa, and ultimately back to the headquarters, now as an executive officer and Deputy General Counsel. There is no question in my mind that my Miami Law degree helped me establish my professional credibility in the United States. As a result of it, I was no longer just another foreign lawyer working in the U.S. I was a U.S. lawyer who also had valuable experience in the practice of law abroad, particularly after having studied and practiced in a Civil Law jurisdiction.
"All this was possible only because of the law school's foresight and determination in establishing itself as a hub for the study of international and inter-American law, and as a magnet for students from Latin America. While the study of core U.S. law subjects like Contracts, Torts, Civil Procedure and Constitutional Law provided me the building blocks of my U.S. legal career, the focus on international law subjects made my experience at Miami Law feel like a natural progression in a process that had started earlier in a different legal system.
"But this wasn't all. I would not have been able to succeed in the J.D. program without the flexibility the school built for students with my kind of unusual profile. First, the availability of a night program allowed me to work full time at Morgan Lewis as an international consultant while going to school. As a father of two at the time (the second daughter having been born the night of my Property Law exam!), it would have been impossible for me to attend law school otherwise. Second, both the administration and faculty played a mentoring role that was critical to my success. Indeed, there were many who contributed throughout the process, but in hindsight, no one played a more important role than then Dean of Students Jeanette Hausler, who was a mentor and helped me craft a study plan that best complemented my previous training and experience, and gave me valuable advice about what to expect and how to succeed. In fact, it is impossible for me to separate my memory of Jeannette and Richard Hauler, my dear professor of Commercial Law, from my experience at Miami Law. My association with Miami Law did not end at the Commencement, though. At one of the graduation events the Dean literally tapped me on my shoulder and asked me to teach a course on International Sales, in Spanish! I did this for a couple of years until I moved to Washington State. I've also maintained a warm friendship with members of the faculty over the years, including Prof. Richard Williamson and Prof. Keith Rosenn, from whom I learned, and continue to learn so much."
Gutiérrez began his career at Microsoft in Fort Lauderdale, at the company's Latin American regional headquarters, where he was responsible for commercial and corporate matters for the region. Before joining Microsoft in 1998, Gutiérrez was a member of the international practice group at the Miami office of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, where he worked on international corporate, commercial and corporate finance transactions, as well as intellectual property and competition law matters. Prior to that, he was a vice president of corporate finance for a Latin American investment bank.
Gutiérrez has practiced law both in civil law and common law jurisdictions. In addition to his Juris Doctor degree from Miami Law, he holds a Master of Laws degree from Harvard Law School, which he attended as a Fulbright Scholar; a Bachelor of Laws degree from Universidad Católica Andrés Bello in Caracas, Venezuela; and a Specialization in Corporate and Commercial Law from the same institution. He is a member of the Harvard Law School Visiting Committee; the Board of Governors of the Hispanic National Bar Association; the Intellectual Property Advisory Board of George Washington University and the International Advisory Board of Tsinghua University's IP Center in Beijing. Gutiérrez is a member of the Bar Associations of New York, Florida, and Washington, as well as a member of the American, International and Federal District, in Venezuela.
Horacio Gutierrez. (Photo: Miami Law)