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Legal market overview
Current economic uncertainty and major changes to the regulations regarding investment, foreign exchange and exports, as well as alterations to sector-specific legislation, continue to restrict the amount of transactional work available to firms in Argentina. Since this shows no sign of changing in the near future, law firms in the country have had once again to call on their renowned adaptability to survive in a changing market. Mid-to-high end banking and corporate work continues to be lucrative, but a depressed market means greater competition. Among those firms weathering the storm is local powerhouse Marval, O'Farrell & Mairal, which fields more than twice the number of lawyers of its closest rival, and has an unparalleled corporate and M&A practice. Other full-service firms such as Pérez Alati, Grondona, Benites, Arntsen & Martínez De Hoz, Jr (‘PAGBAM') and Estudio Beccar Varela have maintained their high reputations in commercial matters, and Bruchou, Fernández Madero & Lombardi also continues to grow and is perhaps the only firm capable of challenging Marval's full-service dominance. The slightly smaller M&M Bomchil and Allende and Brea have also remained competitive, particularly in the administrative and insurance sectors, respectively. As the government becomes ever more interventionist, firms have begun to place emphasis on international trade, administrative work and tax law issues, and it is in these areas that both Marval and Bruchou have shown an ability to adapt quickly to Argentina's volatile economic climate. Within natural resources work, the oil and gas sector is still highly productive for those who have already established operations in the country, but new projects have been suspended due to investment restrictions and the uncertainty caused by the federal government's recent expropriation of YPF, Argentina's largest oil producer. For this reason, there is little change in the legal landscape in this area, with the traditional oil and gas leaders continuing to hold their market positions. In mining, the predicted boom in exploitation and development continues to be hampered by the economic climate, and, as a result, it remains a small, specialised area of Argentine law. Zaballa – Carchio Abogados has emerged from the traditionally strong mining department of the full service Brons & Salas, and has taken a place among the elite firms in this sector as a result of the expertise and experience of its partners. More specialised areas of law, such as environment and real estate continue to be led by boutique firms, although the major firms are devoting more attention to these areas as they become increasingly important.