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Editorial

Legal market overview

Panama has enjoyed a remarkable economic boom over the past decade. Even in 2009, during the depths of the global recession, annual GDP growth refused to dip below 4%, and for the past few years it has been fluctuating between an impressive 8% and 10%. The country has successfully built on its foundation as a transport hub, thanks largely to its geographic location and of course the presence of the interoceanic canal, but also to the growth of its national airline, Copa Airlines. International businesses are increasingly viewing the country as a hub for the wider region, and this has been coupled with a boom in real estate, hospitality and tourism. Major government-led infrastructure projects, such as the expansion of the canal and the development of the Panama City Metro, have also helped spur on much of the activity in the country.

This has, of course, been to the significant benefit of the country’s leading law firms, such as full-service firms Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee, Arias, Fábrega & Fábrega, Galindo, Arias & López and Morgan & Morgan. Firms in the past saw much of their business revolve around ship registrations and financings, as well as Panama’s market for offshore corporate and structuring work; now they offer a broad selection of (primarily) US-educated lawyers with a well-tuned appreciation for what their international clients require from major financings and project financings, as well as cross-border M&A, and real estate construction and development projects. It has not all been plain sailing; most lawyers report that one of the staples of their practices – offshore work – is facing increased pressure from crackdowns in the US, the EU and elsewhere. Fortunately, increased activity in other areas appears to have more than made up for shortfalls on this front.

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