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Legal market overview
With average annual GDP growth at 8.5%, according to the IMF, Panama remains a significant bright spot in an otherwise faltering global economy. In part this has been driven by the huge infrastructure project constituted by the expansion of the Panama Canal, revenues from which, in turn, underpin many smaller-scale, state-backed projects, including roads, hospitals and a new metro in Panama City. Tourism has also flourished, with several new developments in progress, while commercial and residential real estate is also a major source of investment. The country’s convenient geographical position (in regional terms) has seen it become an increasingly important hub, with many international companies establishing their Central American headquarters there. Local companies, including the domestic carrier, Copa Airlines, have flourished as a result. Law firms are among those who have also reaped the dividends. For the country’s largest full-service firms, previous mainstays such as ship registration and offshore work have been eclipsed by the growing need for cutting-edge corporate finance and real estate advice. In turn, commercial litigation and arbitration are increasingly creeping up on the agenda. The larger firms, which include Morgan & Morgan, Arias, Fábrega & Fábrega, Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee and Galindo, Arias & Lopez, are all well positioned to handle this sort of work, and can offer clients an array of highly competent US and UK-trained lawyers.