Legal market overview
Propelled by investment and the growth of domestic consumption, Colombia’s economy thrived in 2013 and the country has remained an attractive destination for foreign investors. The main engine of growth was the construction sector but agricultural output was also healthy thanks to high coffee production.
While there remains a bottleneck in the mining sector due to the continuing difficulties related to obtaining new concessions and the confirmation of titles, it nevertheless remains one of the most important pillars of the country’s economy. The development of those major projects already in process has allowed the sector continued growth. Importantly, the somewhat delayed public concessions for a whole range of public infrastructure matters have now begun to be tendered and awarded, at least in the highways sector. The so-called ‘fourth generation road concessions’ are likely to be a major source of economic dynamism over the course of the next administration, generating both business and legal activity. Moreover, with President Santos’ re-election confirmed, development in other sectors should benefit from political continuity.
The so called ‘Colombian big four’ formed by: Brigard & Urrutia, Gómez-Pinzón Zuleta, Posse Herrera Ruiz, and prietocarrizosa remain market leaders, with the local office of international powerhouse Baker & McKenzie S.A.S., and the steadily growing Cárdenas & Cárdenas Abogados just a step behind. They are followed by a number of other traditional market players and recent international arrivals including Lloreda Camacho & Co., Sanclemente Fernández Abogados S.A., Norton Rose Fulbright, and Holland & Knight LLP. Traditional boutiques remain active and largely retain their relevance despite the dynamic market scenario; examples would include Martínez Neira Abogados, Rodríguez Azuero Abogados, Durán & Osorio Abogados Asociados, Palacios Lleras, Muñoz Tamayo & Asociados. Other boutiques maintain a prominent place in their respective areas of expertise such as Esguerra Barrera Arriaga in the competition sector; both Barrios Vélez Gutíerrez Abogados and Salazar Pardo & Jaramillo Abogados in insurance; OlarteMoure in intellectual property; both Araujo Ibarra & Asociados S.A and Ibarra Abogados in international trade; Godoy Cordoba Abogados in labour, Pinilla, Gonzalez & Prieto in real estate; and Lewin & Wills, Abogados in tax. Additional international players are also trying to develop a presence in the market, some, like Garrigues ‘going-it-alone’ with the opening of its own Bogotá office; others, such as DAC Beachroft Colombia, via strategic merger – in this case with De la Torre & Monroy.