The Legal 500

El Salvador

Editorial

Legal market overview

Traditionally linked to global and particularly US economic cycles, El Salvador’s economy has slowly regained strength after the global financial crisis. However, in the run-up to the May 2014 presidential elections, political uncertainty has once again reduced investment activity and slowed trade flow. On the positive side, the thriving energy sector is creating new work and has contributed to keeping the legal market active.

With numerous office openings, mergers and lateral hires in 2013 and early 2014, El Salvador´s legal landscape is slowly but steadily shifting. While regional powerhouse Consortium – Centro América Abogados strengthened its corporate practice by merging with small (but well-regarded), local firm Benjamín Valdez & Asociados in February 2014, thereby increasing competition with prestigious market leader Arias & Muñoz in particular, it nevertheless endured a setback with the departure of leading litigator Ricardo Cevallos in February 2014. Cevallos subsequently opened BLP’s new Salvadoran branch in June 2014.

Given the success of the regional networks established by Arias & Muñoz and Consortium – Centro América Abogados, progressive regionalisation appears to have become a trend that few firms can –or are prepared– to withstand. In May 2014, for example, Guandique Segovia Quintanilla established the regional network LatAm Lex in conjunction with other independent law firms in Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia and Panama, introducing a new competitive force to the region. In other developments, Sáenz & Asociados expanded its regional outreach by opening a new office in Guatemala; and Pacheco Coto made its market debut in El Salvador by absorbing ACZALAW, Abogados Centroamericanos Asociados as part of its regional network. Further market movement saw Romero Pineda & Asociados, Compañía de Abogados welcome six lawyers from Lexincorp, which despite these departures remains a solid player in the domestic market.

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