Miami Law is a gateway and a launchpad. It attracts students from around the world and propels them on new trajectories. Some graduate to pursue careers amid the courtroom drama. Others, the detailed intensity of transactional work. And others, to take their place at the intersection of business and law, lending legal guidance and support through a complicated multinational maze of laws and regulations, in an international arena.
“If you thrive on uncertainty and navigating ambiguous waters, then it’s for you,” says Augusto Aragone, LL.M in U.S. & Transnational Law., ’06.
Augusto Aragone, LL.M. '06
Aragone came to Miami Law with a specific goal in mind: “To be able to grow professionally in the legal market in the United States.”
A decade later, he’s the vice president and associate general counsel at Ingram Micro Inc., the world’s largest global information technology distributor. He is responsible, among a host of other duties, for providing legal support around the world to the $43 billion corporation’s mergers and acquisitions team.
In 2015 alone, he was lead counsel or team member in the acquisition of São Paulo, Brazil-based Grupo Acao, one of Latin America’s leading IT providers, with operations in Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Uruguay, and Ecuador; Odin Service Automation, involving over 500 employees scattered across the Russian Federation, North America, Europe, and Asia; a mobility insurance brokerage operation in Ireland, Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand; and the largest value-added technology distributor in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“We acquired companies in Russia or Brazil or Saudi Arabia—countries with very different systems, and different laws, and different requirements, and different cultures you’re going into,” he says. “You have to make it work using the U.S. framework, but also leveraging our multicultural perspective.”
There have also been acquisitions of companies with operations in the Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Romania, Chile, Peru, and Turkey.
Just to mention a few. Just in 2015.
“It’s an exercise in balance and pragmatism,” he says. “When you’re in-house, as opposed to working for a law firm, the role involves what you can think of as an interpreter, of legal needs and business needs. So you’re kind of a bridge that allows the business to accomplish their goals by enabling them with the law.”
For Aragone, it brings together two passions, which he discovered, he says, “by happenstance.”
Growing up in Uruguay, he didn’t aim to be a lawyer. He played drums in bossa nova and jazz bands as a teenager and dreamt of coming to the U.S.
“One of my goals back then was to come to the U.S. to study music,” he says. “I never thought I would be a lawyer, let alone end up in the U.S. as a lawyer. I ended up, apparently, in the right place but in a different way.”
By the time he started college, though, he moved to the beat of a different calling. Or two.
“I was sort of forced into the law, wisely as it turns out, by my mother,” he says. “I was thinking about signing up for law or for international relations, and I ended up signing up for the latter. And when I got back home, my mom said, ‘You know what? Go back. You’re going to drop international relations, and you’re going into law.’”
He did. Then, love happened. Twice. Or, actually, three times.
He met his wife (whom he calls “my support system”), got married at 19, and had his first child a year later. Work took priority, but school never stopped.
“I was studying law at night,” he says. “I had to put food on the table, so I had to work. And then after work, I would go to law school.”
That’s how he found his second and third loves.
His day job was at a major Swiss logistics company, as a salesman. “I worked my way through the ranks, as time went by, while I was studying law. So I was working at the company and also discovering a passion for logistics.”
He was also discovering a passion for the law. So much so, that he decided to put the two together. As soon as he graduated from law school in Uruguay, the family moved to Italy, so he could get his first master’s, in transportation law.
“I tried to combine both my work experience with the knowledge of law.”
DHL Global Forwarding, the international logistics and freight forwarding company, hired him to “set up an in-house law department for Latin America in Miami. And that’s how I came to this country.”
That’s also how he came to Miami Law.
“Sort of the next step in my career was taking the LL.M.,” he says, “That’s allowed me to compete in the legal profession in the U.S.”
It did, leading to the job at Ingram Micro. He started as director and associate general counsel for the Fortune 100 company’s Latin America division, handling mergers and acquisitions, litigation, commercial contracts, employment and tax matters, and corporate governance, as well as advising on anti-bribery, export, and anti-trust compliance.
In January of 2015, the company promoted him to handle mergers and acquisitions worldwide.
For others considering a similar career, he says, “Keep an open mind, travel. Languages are essential. If you are not able to communicate in one or two languages in addition to your mother tongue then you’re probably going to limit yourself a little bit. Have an experience living abroad. You need that kind of full immersion to then be able to start connecting dots. Learn to learn.”
The result, he says, is “never boring. It’s also very challenging. But it’s a function of the fact that you’re breaking new ground all the time.”