Colombia’s third largest city by population (approximately 2.4m in 2018), Cali houses a compact but significant legal market. Notable for being the location where the Raisbeck firm – the forerunner of the Colombian office of today’s Baker McKenzie – came to prominence, the city now primarily houses more locally focused firms, with some exceptions.Cali’s legal market remains more atomised than that of Medellín and fields fewer firms that have consolidated their institutional presence, although this is now increasingly taking place. Instead, the market has resorted to inter-firm (and sole-practitioner) associations – temporary or more long-lasting – to facilitate the coverage of clients’ requirements.Local corporate firm Caicedos Holguines Abogados, for example, has a co-operation agreement with Seguridad Legal for data protection and tech matters, but at the same time maintains a concurrent association with Advocat; the latter, in turn, is increasingly redefining itself as a Bogota-based firm where the majority of its lawyers are now located. Of the Bogotá heavyweights, only Brigard Urrutia maintains a permanent presence in the city. Meanwhile, Gómez-Pinzón Abogados (GPA), however, maintains a platform in the region via its Cali desk in the Bogotá office.
Cali in Colombia
Initially founded in Cali, Advocat‘s main office has since switched to Bogotá and the firm now maintains well-staffed platforms in two of Colombia’s most important business hubs by per-capita GDP. The young firm, which was founded in 2015, now houses a full-service legal platform, which acts for Colombian and multinational clients on the full spread of corporate, finance, competition, energy, infrastructure, labour, real estate and tax matters. On the banking and finance side, Nicolás Fernández De Soto is noted for his broad regulatory and transactional experience, with growing strength in the private lending and fintech area. The firm’s corporate offering also continues to broaden under the joint leadership of María Isabel Rodríguez , who specialises in corporate, M&A and real estate, María Claudia Armenta , who brings to bear significant experience in corporate, M&A, real estate and infrastructure, and Francisco Cabal , who has a focus on corporate, M&A and energy and natural resources. On the non-transactional side, Camilo Bernal is noted for labour and employment matters, while regulatory specialist Victor Ayalde handles competition, consumer protection and data protection matters. Sources also single out tax partner Juan Guillermo Becerra , who is particularly recognised for tax planning and advisory work.
‘The Advocat team strives to really understand in detail the needs of us as a client. It proposes viable alternatives that allow the company not only to understand and comply with the legal framework in an exemplary manner, but also to achieve its business objectives.’
‘The firm fields specialists in key areas of business, which allows it to provide good advice. In cases where there is a particular matter where the firm does not have a specialist, it can utilise its network of specialised lawyers, who have similar characteristics, regarding quality, commitment and rates.’
‘The lawyers at the Advocat firm are fully involved with each case and provide specialised, personalised client support. I have had the opportunity to work hand in hand with three partners of the firm: María Claudia Armenta, Juan Guillermo Becerra and Nicolás Fernández De Soto.’
‘It is a firm with a high-performance team; its response is fast and efficient. Additionally, it is very easy to work with; lawyers stay very close and willing to solve any issue. In a nutshell it is supremely customer-focused.’
‘We recommend the team for its closeness and understanding of our business as clients; it is always willing to provide a solution!‘
‘Advocat is a team of upstanding professionals with an excellent service vocation. They field lawyers specialised in different areas and can cover the main needs of companies.’
‘In addition to their professional training, the personal quality of the team members stands out, as well as the possibility of directly accessing them when they are needed.‘
‘Our main contact is with Nicolás Fernandez De Soto, Juan Guillermo Becerra, Camilo Bernal — all of them attend to the requirements in a timely manner, demonstrate up-to-date knowledge and we feel they are part of our company for the interest they show in our issues.‘
Long-established Cali firm Ayerbe Abogados has been a local force since it was founded in 1941. Servicing a mix of domestic and multinational clients from its Cali and — since 1997 — Bogotá offices, the group houses an increasingly broad legal offering, while remaining true to its partner-led business model. On the transactional side, the firm advises a diverse array of domestic and international companies on foreign investment matters, corporate and M&A deals, capital markets transactions, energy-related work and tax. The team also benefits from a solid regulatory and contentious capability, with experience in administrative law, competition, IP and litigation across all practice areas. Among the senior names to note, Rodrigo Ayerbe Muñoz and Felipe Ayerbe Muñoz spearhead the firm’s Cali and Bogotá offices respectively; both have an emphasis on corporate matters and strategic litigation. Andrés Rodrigo Flórez is noted for his track record in labour and employment law, particularly collective bargaining; and Rodrigo Ayerbe Arango is also recognised for his reputation in labour matters. Claudia Romero Estrada , who has over 20 years in practice, and Valentina Naranjo Tobar are also key contacts.
‘An expert firm with excellent service‘, Brigard Urrutia continues to be the only full-service national heavyweight with an on-the-ground presence in Cali. More than this, the firm remains fully committed to expanding its offering in the city and the wider region, with the team recently swelling to five lawyers following several new hires into the office including: international trade-focused of counsel Maria Eugenia Lloreda, who joined in April 2021 and is a former regional manager at ANDI; senior associate Jimena Rincon , who has an emphasis on corporate and M&A matters and arrived in April 2022 from Fanalca; and intermediate associate Rafael Reyes, who advises on labour and employment law and was formerly a clerk for specialised labour judges — he joined in 2021. The office is now equipped to provide standalone advice on a wide range of corporate and M&A, international trade, labour and employment and antitrust law— it can also parachute in teams from the wider firm as required. Competition and antitrust expert Alejandro Garcia de Brigard continues to head the local practice and recently provided training to 18 companies in Valle del Cauca on technological prototyping, data management and intellectual property.
‘It is an expert firm with excellent service.‘
‘The main strength of the Brigard Urrutia team is that it manages to integrate very effectively the different disciplines that can contribute to the solution of a particular problem or situation. So definitions and decisions always have the support of having been built holistically.’
‘Industry knowledge is outstanding, and the partners in charge are excellent.’
‘I highlight the integration of the BU team; the practice provides comprehensive advice. Lawyers do not bill unnecessarily and seek 360º solutions together with colleagues from other practices.’
‘It is a comprehensive team, which has professionals specialised in different areas of law and at the forefront of relevant legal discussions. The firm has also implemented diversity and inclusion efforts.’
Suzuki Motor de Colombia
Sinergia Global en Salud
Gases de Occidente
CI de Azucares y Mieles
Zonamerica Usuario Operador de Zonafranca
Baño Móvil de Colombia
Ingeniería Maquinaria y Equipos de Colombia (IMECOL)
Servicio de Comercio Estratégico (Unico Outlets)
Santa Anita Nápoles
Cargill Trading Colombia
Siderurgica del Occidente
Sociedad Puerto Industrial Agua Dulce
Italcol de Occidente
Cámara de Comercio de Cali
Goodyear de Colombia
Industria Colombiana De Dotaciones Metalicas
Mindray Medical Colombia
Cartón de Colombia
Consorcio Infraestructura Rover 012
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP
- Advising Christus Health on M&A matters, general corporate, tax, labour, and healthcare regulation.
- Advising Comercializadora de Azucares y Mieles (CIAMSA) on corporate, environmental, custom, tax and, labour law matters.
- Acting for Suzuki Motor de Colombia on corporate, commercial, tax, and competence matters.
Espíndola International Consultants
Noted for its ‘agile and personalised‘ service, Espíndola International Consultants retains its sharp focus on international trade and customs matters. Headquartered in Cali, with an additional platform in Bogotá, the boutique firm is routinely engaged to advise on trade, international commercial law, foreign exchange regulations, foreign investment and customs law, with supplementary strength in complementary areas such as maritime and aviation, corporate and M&A and dispute resolution. The firm’s alliances with Arrubla Devis Asociados (Bogota and Medellín) and administrative boutique Maria Claudia Rojas & Asociados in Cali further extend its geographical and practice reach. As to its client relationships, the group enjoys close links with Colombian and multinational companies, with particular experience in the agroindustry, transport and life sciences spheres. Firm founder Carlos Espindola-Scarpetta is recognised for his strong skill sets in private international law, international contracting, dispute resolution, and international trade and customs. The firm also leans on a sizeable band of associates including Lorena Hernández Agudelo (international law and dispute resolution); Diana Lorena Herrera (international trade, transport and corporate matters); and María Alejandra Arevalo (trade, transport and corporate law).
‘The team is comprised of precise, disciplined, responsible and committed professionals.’
‘Incorporating virtuality into its services has made it possible to interact with the interdisciplinary legal team in full, thereby achieving a holistic view of each case and providing faster and more accurate solutions that, in many cases, can avoid the initiation of legal proceedings.’
‘Without prejudice to virtual communication, the treatment is personalised, this provides efficiency and confidence.’
‘Espíndola International Consultants is characterised by its excellent interpersonal skills. The firm is also extremely pragmatic and agile in digital matters, since it has all the necessary IT infrastructure. It is an office that takes care of each case in an agile and personalised way, providing professional support of the highest quality, which normally exceeds expectations.’
International Trade Imports / The Ricky Joy Company
Atlantic Over Seas Express
Agencia de Aduanas Asercol, Nivel1
- Represented TM Medicas in a customs case relating to state-of-the-art medical devices imported into Colombia.
- Advised Ingenio Pichichi on a report to the Central Bank regarding highly complex foreign exchange operations that comprise strategic investments, such as forward contracts.
- Advised Atlantic Overseas Express on various corporate, foreign investment and commercial matters.
Franco Murgueitio & Asociados
Founded in 1990, Franco Murgueitio & Asociados remains committed to its one-site model, eschewing other national offices in favour of strong local and international law firm relationships; significantly, it enjoys close links with firms throughout Latin America and also in Europe, Asia and the USA. Primarily focused on tax and corporate matters, the practice is split into two standalone departments dealing with legal services and accountancy work respectively. Alongside its signature strength in tax, corporate and estate planning, it also has robust offerings in foreign exchange matters, labour and social security law, and international trade and customs. Founding partner Luis Hernando Franco Murgueitio steers the estate planning practice and also advises major companies on corporate and tax matters, with support from director of legal affairs, Juan David Seba Gironza . The legal department was recently hit by the December-2021 departures of former corporate and tax head Santiago Meza Mafla and legal director David Ernesto Martinez, who both left for spin-off firm Santiago Meza Abogados & Asesores. Additionally, tax director Juan Camilo Acosta left in January 2022 to become a tax consultant.
Hurtado & Gandini
With its 22-year trajectory, exclusively Cali-based Hurtado & Gandini has grown into a specialist, and thriving, local player. The medium-size firm specialises in contentious matters, with notable offerings in technology controversies, transport disputes, corporate litigation, contentious labour and employment matters, administrative law, and insurance litigation, among others. The firm numbers 22 lawyers in total, including five partners, all of whom bring to bear significant cross-practice experience. Managing partner Francisco José Hurtado steers the litigation practice and is noted for his broad focus, with experience in civil, commercial, administrative and criminal proceedings. Fernando Gandini directs the corporate and commercial group and advises on general corporate matters as well as conflict resolution, including arbitration. Julián Dávalos manages the labour and social security practice and is recognised for his record in labour proceedings, union immunity cases and collective labour disputes. Rounding out the partner group is Ana María Olave, who focuses on real estate and estate planning, and Gloria Inés Hurtado, who is a specialist in maritime and port law. Among the firm’s up-and-coming associates, senior Christián Camilo Vallecilla and intermediate Orlando Arango are noted for litigation, insurance and civil liability.
Kärner, Botero, Segura & Valdivieso Abogados
With a marked focus on the local region, the entrepreneurial Kärner, Botero, Segura & Valdivieso Abogados is committed to the support and development of Cali-based clients, as well as domestic and multinational companies located in the vicinity. The firm maintains a dynamic corporate practice, which is supplemented by solid offerings in real estate, labour, consumer law and -leveraging the city’s proximity to the Port of Buenaventura- international trade and customs. Key contacts include managing partner Eduardo José Botero, who advises on a wide range of corporate, tax and real estate matters. Fellow firm co-founders Felipe Valencia Serrano and Pedro Jose Valdivieso specialise in real estate and urban planning, and commercial and finance law respectively. Julián Andrés Segura left the firm to become a legal analyst at CIAMSA.
Mora Abogados S.A.S.
New entrant to the table for 2023, five-lawyer strong Mora Abogados S.A.S. secures rave reviews from satisfied clients due to its ‘great ability to generate close relationships‘ and its lawyers’ ‘proactive attitude and quick responses‘. Since its establishment in 1999, the firm has specialised in general business law, primarily corporate and commercial matters, with notable strength in the agroindustry, construction, financial services and hospitality (hotels / tourism) sectors. The firm’s emphasis on providing ‘direct communication with partners‘ is a recurring theme among sources, with managing partner Luis Alfonso Mora Sarria highlighted as ‘focused on problem solving‘; he brings to bear two decades of experience in supporting clients on corporate and commercial law, including restructuring. Founding partner Luis Alfonso Mora Tejada (‘very resourceful and creative‘) is a former Executive Vice President of the Corporación Financiera del Valle and continues to oversee the practice; he is noted for his strong record in corporate finance matters.
‘Mora Abogados stands out for its great ability to generate close relationships, which instils trust as it seeks to understand client needs in depth. Lawyers have a broad command of their subjects. Over time, the firm has become known in the region, and the country, generating high levels of prestige and recognition for its excellent results.’
‘The strength of Mora Abogados lie in its experience and proposals to address different issues. Mora Abogados is the only law firm we work with in Colombia. Compared to firms we contract in other countries (Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru, Bolivia, Chile), it stands out for its closeness, feedback, and process follow-up.’
‘I summarise the firm’s ‘pluses’ as experience, contact with various lawyers in all regions of Colombia, a proactive attitude and quick responses.’
‘The team directly reveals the options available in consultation cases and recommendations are always aimed at achieving a benefit for all and an equitable use of resources.‘
‘Without a doubt, the ‘plus’ is the quality of the partners who directly attend to the cases and support on them until they are resolved.’
‘We value the direct communication with partners. Very efficient in answers and recommendations. Excellent management of family businesses.’
‘We work mainly with Luis Alfonso Mora Sarria, who is a dedicated person focused on problem solving. The contact is quite close, although it is an outsourced service for our company, we consider him part of the team for his willingness to collaborate and for the agility with which he does so.’
‘Luis Alfonso Mora Tejada is a lawyer with extensive experience, very resourceful and creative, who provides a personalised service of great value. Likewise, Luis Alfonso Mora Sarria is a very well-trained lawyer and already with an extensive and outstanding practice, who manages business with great energy.’
Giros y finanzas
Santa Anita Nápoles
Zona Franca Permanente Palmaseca, Usuario Operador de Zona Franca
Palmas del Cesar
Frutera de Santa Marta
Impact Finance Fund
Productora Nacional Avícola
Julia Elvira de Ulloa y Cía
Royal Rental Colombia
Promotora Colombiana de Recreación
- Advised Belleza Express on the disposal of intangible assets.
- Acted for Daimará on the spin-off of operations to create two new companies, Chambimbe and Elviamar.
- Advised on the merger process of Proterra Hábitat, Proterra Foods and Proterra Colombia for administrative and fiscal efficiency purposes.
Saavedra Becerra Abogados
Now solely based in Bogotá, Saavedra Becerra Abogados‘ historical strength in Cali and the wider region is evidenced by its strong local relationships with clients such as Metro Cali, Zona Franca del Pacifico and Consorcio PST, among others. The five-strong boutique is primarily recognised for its record in public law issues, with its broad practice experience spanning a range of state contracting, infrastructure projects and dispute resolution, including arbitration. Managing partner and key contact Carlos Saavedra specialises in public law and commercial law, bringing to bear robust projects expertise honed during roles at both the Institute for Urban Development (IDU) and the National Infrastructure Agency (ANI). Fellow partner Ramiro Becerra combines strength in administrative law, public procurement, torts, state liability and arbitration; he is a former justice of the Administrative Tribunal in the Valle del Cauca, and also a former Justice and President of the State Council. At associate level, senior Ana Marcela Albarracín is well versed in public law, projects and litigation.
‘We value the firm for its capacity for discussion, sense of responsibility, industry knowledge and management of cases. We highlight its monitoring and follow-up processes.‘
‘There is direct dialogue with the manager of the firm combined with support from responsible lawyers.’
Consorcio Ciclo Rutas
CI de Azucares y Mieles (CIAMSA)
Job and Talent
Zona Franca del Pacifico
Alcaldía de Barranquilla
Fondo Nacional de Gestión del Riesgo y Desastres
Departamento Administrativo para la Prosperidad Social
- Represented Compas Cascajal on the renegotiation of its concession for the Port in Buenaventura.
- Acted for Metro Cali in three arbitrations regarding the construction, operation and collection contracts for the bus rapid transit system in the city of Cali.
- Advised Consorcio PST, a government services and logistic operator, on public law matters and its relationship with government agencies.
Santiago Meza Abogados & Asesores
A new entrant to the Cali market, Santiago Meza Abogados & Asesores was established in December 2021 following the spin-off of a group of tax lawyers from Franco Murgueitio & Asociados , including Santiago Meza Mafla and David Ernesto Martinez . Meza, who was tax and corporate head at his former firm, now spearheads a legal, tax, accounting and audit-focused boutique composed of a nine-strong team of lawyers and accountants. Martinez — who was legal director at his former firm — provides key support as a counsel and leads the tax and litigation team. Other names to note include legal co-ordinator Oscar Martinez Marin , who heads the labour department and also provides support on corporate, tax and litigation, as well as corporate lawyers Pablo Andrés Meza Plata and Juan Pablo Mosquera Mosquera Idarraga. The breakaway firm has hit the ground running and has recently undertaken work for leading companies such as Refinadora Nacional de Aceites y Grasas and MM Packaging Colombia — among others.
‘A multidisciplinary team composed of people who are very willing to serve.’
‘Santiago Meza Mafla and his team have been working with our companies for more than thirteen years. Its best qualities are clarity and security in legal and tax concepts, as well as the kindness and charisma which is typical of this team.’
‘The Santiago Meza Abogados & Asesores team stands out for its deep knowledge of all tax matters and extensive legal knowledge, together with its commitment and availability to clients.’
‘We have felt very well supported in the various situations where we have needed advice. Santiago Meza Mafla and David Ernesto Martinez are professionals of the highest calibre; they make an excellent team to solve all kinds of challenges. In addition to their knowledge, I highlight their high level of customer service.‘
‘Our company has confidence in Santiago Meza Mafla because he has accompanied the organisation for many years. The work team is technically very committed and competitive.‘
‘In general, team members have high technical knowledge and are usually friendly and diligent people, with quick responses to requirements.’
Centro Comercial Único
Pernod Ricard Colombia
Refinadora Nacional de Aceites y Grasas
Metalicas e Ingenieria
Rexico, (Franquicia Frisby)
Andina de Seguridad
Agencia de Aduanas Agecoldex
Nutrición de Plantas
Adiela de Lombana
- Advised Refinadora Nacional de Aceites y Grasas on tax matters, including administrative law issues.
- Advised a family on the tax implications of a shareholder’s agreement between two companies.
- Advised Lanu e Inversiones Lanu on tax matters within the context of its reorganisation through a merger.
A firm ‘dedicated to advising on data protection', Seguridad Legal scores highly with clients for its ‘extensive knowledge of current regulations in Colombia and auxiliary regulations, especially GDPR'. Despite its compact size, the Cali-based boutique’s exclusive focus on privacy, data protection, cyber risk and digital business pays dividends and it is a popular choice to represent domestic and multinational companies on regulatory IT issues. Key partner Andrés Felipe Ángel founded the firm in 2014 and brings to bear strong expertise in advising an array of private and public-sector entities on the implementation of data protection programmes. The three-lawyer strong team was recently boosted by the hire of consultant Lina Fernanda Ángel, whose broad regulatory experience includes stints as a lawyer at the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic of Colombia, the SIC and the Colombian National Superintendence of Health.
‘We recommend the team for its clarity, understanding of the business and the needs of the client, its interaction with the client and its negotiating capacity.’
‘The firm is dedicated to advising on data protection, both from a technical and legal perspective.‘
‘Andrés Felipe Ángel has strong knowledge on the entire subject of data protection and how to apply it to reality.’
‘The service provided by SL stands out for its extensive knowledge of current regulations in Colombia and auxiliary regulations, especially GDPR. Additionally, it makes an adequate alignment with technology and corporate processes.’
‘Andrés Felipe Ángel is a proactive person, with great capacity for analysis.’
‘The firm possesses expert knowledge in data protection issues.’
‘We highlight its specialised knowledge of national and international regulations and jurisprudence. Professionals stand out for their sector focus and personal service.’
Comfandi (Caja De Compensación Familiar Del Valle)
Gases De Occidente
Clínica Imbanaco, Grupo Quirón Salud
Programa De Servicios De Tránsito De Cali
Cámara de Comercio de Medellín
Universidad del Rosario
Grupo Rio Paila Castilla
- Advised Programa Servicios de Tránsito de Cali, a company specialised in the provision of operational services related to intelligent mobility systems, on data protection matters.
- Advised Michelin Colombia on its data protection programme and the formalisation of transnational information flows.
- Assisted La Caja de Compensación Familiar del Valle del Cauca (COMFANDI) with the implementation of its data protection programme.