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Colombia > Labour and employment > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

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  1. Labour and employment
  2. Leading individuals
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Who Represents Who

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Baker McKenzie S.A.S.’s level of service is ‘excellent. The team has great knowledge and experience; the lawyers are proactive, very clear in their opinions and advice, and practical’. Heading the 15-strong practice are two leading lawyers, Tatiana Garcés and Evelyn Romero. The group advised a company dedicated to aviation services and integrated security solutions on designing the strategy for extending and terminating 160 employment agreements according to the business needs. The team also supported Sanofi on designing the strategy for collective negotiation with an industry union and acted for Nalco (Ecolab) on a claim by a former employee who alleged protection against dismissal and sought reinstatement to his previous position. Senior associates María Cecilia Reyes, Veronica Pelaez and Sebastian Salazar are also noted.

Godoy Córdoba member of Littler Global is ‘a top firm in the area’, ‘since it dedicates itself 100%’ to labour and employment law and is ‘very efficient, and always ready to deliver analytical answers’. The firm stands out for having one of the largest teams in the country, with 53 lawyers including 8 partners. The practice gave legal advice to Air Liquide on its acquisition ventures in Colombia, which included pre-purchase due diligence services and subsequent personnel transfers resulting from the acquisitions. Other highlights included advising AIG on the labour aspects of its sale of AIG Insurance Colombia to Fairfax; including matters arising from the closure of AIG Shared services in Latin America and the associated voluntary retirement program offered to the latter’s employees. Founding partner Carlos Hernán Godoy, Francisco Buriticá, Santiago Martínez, and senior associate Federico Bernal are all recommended.

Labour boutique Lopez & Asociados Abogados attracts praise for the ‘personalized services rendered by the firm. Partners are always available to clients and they create a very close relationship with the companies for which they act as advisors’. Juan Pablo López, Angelica Carrión and Alejandro Castellanos head the 67-strong team; its senior figures are all ‘well-seasoned lawyers with a great experience advising all economic sectors in Colombia. Particularly, they advise almost the entire financial sector in Colombia and are very valued in the negotiation with unions, day-to-day advising and litigation areas’. The team assisted Securitas on its collective bargaining process with 4 different unions as well as with non-unionized workers in negotiations that were not simultaneous; at the end of the process, identical agreements were reached with both unionised and non-unionised workers. The practice also represented a state-owned company in a complex arbitration against two different unions concerning compensation. Telmex, Halliburton, Weatherford, Laboratorios Baxter and Ferrocarriles del Norte de Colombia are all on the client list.

Alvarez, Lievano, Laserna S.A.S’s service is ‘highly competitive, with the capacity to respond in real time and solidity in the legal concept. There is confidence in each of the professionals both for their preparation and their historical experience in labour issues in the country’. Exclusively dedicated to labour and social security issues, the 34-strong team is led by Carlos Álvarez Pereira, with Claudia Liévano also a key member. The team participated in a fractious collective bargaining process undertaken by Pacific Rubiales Energy (now Frontera Energy) with the Workers’ Union of the Oil Industry (USO), the most important union in the sector; the conflict is awaiting the decision by an arbitration tribunal. The practice is also advising Sodexo, with more than 12,000 workers nationwide, on the handling of both individual and collective labour relations. Over the past year the team achieved the direct signing of two collective bargaining agreements, one with the union Sinaltrainal. Others representative clients include Unilever, Fundación Universitaria San Martin, Gran Tierra Energy Colombia, BBVA Colombia, Canacol Energy and Bimbo de Colombia. Associate Maria Lucia Laserna is also recommended.

Brigard & Urrutia’s nine-strong team, under the guidance of Catalina Santos supported by key associate José Alejandro Sierra, is ‘exceptionally talented’ – and for some clients ‘perhaps the best with which we have ever worked’. The practice offers comprehensive labour and employment law advice to clients across the board and has a particularly strong participation – and reputation – in the collective bargaining segment, as well as in matters related to pension schemes and pension commutation processes, aspects which have been a key part in several negotiations within M&A transactions. The team also represents clients in labour litigations before judicial and administrative authorities. Highlights included acting for Credit Suisse in a labour procedure – significant due to the precedent established – in which the Supreme Court accepted the application of a foreign law to an employment relationship executed in Colombia. The team also assisted Grainger with a voluntary termination plan resulting from the closure of its Colombian operation and affecting a total of 327 employees located in 6 different cities. Dell, Cardinal Health, Philips Colombiana and the Embassies of the US, United Kingdom and Israel are among the practice’s clients.

Bringing ‘excellent quality’ and an advice that ‘is characterised by going one step further’, Chapman & Asociados although based in Barranquilla (capital of Colombia’s Atlántico Department), nevertheless services clients nation-wide. The labour-specialised firm has expertise on issues such as outsourcing, health immunities and unions’ protection. ‘Excellent and brilliant professionalCharles Chapman and Mirna Wilches, who is also recommended, co-head the 31-strong practice. The team represented Grupo Argos before the Ministry of Labour in a successful challenge to second instance resolutions that were declared null. The team has also been chosen by Grupo Nutresa to represent its interests before administrative and judicial authorities. Other clients include Colombina, Electricaribe, Mexichem de Colombia, CI Prodeco and Tecnoglass.

Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría is recognised for offering ‘high level consultancy, with a capacity for quick attention and high clarity about the urgency and priority of labour issues’. The practice covers social security, immigration law, litigation, and all other matters related to labour law. Practice co-head Héctor Hernández led legal assistance to Promotora La Alborada in the judicial proceedings initiated by a former independent contractor; the claim estimated at $600,000, was denied. Other highlights include acting on behalf of Mondelez before the ministry of Labour in administrative proceedings in several areas throughout Colombia. Long-standing clients include Visa Colombia, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Sally Beauty and BRC Investor Services. ‘Very talented and highly skilled’ associate Carolina Porras co-heads the practice.

Inspiring total confidence’, Posse Herrera Ruiz handles large-scale personnel transfers and dismissals as a result of mergers and restructurings, as well as high-profile terminations. The firm is experienced in litigation and also helps clients with social security and payroll tax issues, and assists private equity funds, in particular, in conducting labour due diligences on target companies. Recommended practitioner Carolina Camacho leads the 12-strong team with ‘capable’ associate Camilo Bernal ‘the right-hand man’. The team advised Lazard Colombia and SaludCoop (in liquidation proceedings) on several labour matters that arose from the sale of insurer Cafesalud, a SaludCoop company, to Prestasalud and the creation of a new company, Medimás, that holds Cafesalud’s assets. The practice has also represented Unilever in settlement hearings and provided specific legal advice regarding the pension contributions for some positions in the company, also assisting with regular labour and migratory compliance in Colombia and with restructuring processes and termination processes with third-party providers. Amazon, Turkish Airlines, American Express, Google and Perenco Oil and Gas are also clients.

Dentons Cardenas & Cardenas advises national and international clients on the full range of labour and immigration matters, including transactional support and litigious representation as well as giving support regarding day-to-day labour policies. Lorena Arámbula founded and heads the four-strong practice. The team gave advice to a multinational on the termination of more than 60 direct and indirect employees, including advice on mass-layoff procedures, settlement agreements and contentious issues.

Based in Bucaramanga, the widely recommended Pilonieta Alvarez Abogados Laboralistas offers a service that reaches and covers not only the whole northern region of Santander but also Colombia’s main cities. The labour specialised firm’s service is ‘good value, the response times are quite fast, agile, and timely, and additionally, situations are evaluated in a comprehensive manner’. The firm has a sizeable team, with over 30 lawyers, led by founding partner Eduardo Piloneta whose ‘leadership, knowledge and experience, has generated a real working team in which the transfer of knowledge and experience to junior lawyers makes them quite competent’. The practice acted for Abbott Laboratorios against a claim brought by a former worker that was dismissed by two judicial instances and also the Supreme Court of Justice’s cassation office which confirmed the non- existence of any obligation. Patricia Álvarez is also recommended. The client roster includes Goodyear, Gas Natural Fenosa, Consorcio Acciona Ottac and Banco de Bogotá.

VS+M Abogados differentiates itself for providing a ‘more personalised’ advice, the opportunity of ‘working alongside the main partners’, and ‘greater agility in responses and a more comprehensive and not exclusively legal approach to some cases’. The 16-strong practice advised Grupo Atlas on collective labour matters which included the structure and the execution of negotiations with more than seven different unions around the country, and the implementation of a defensive strategy against the unions’ offensive. Diego Felipe Valdivieso, who possesses ‘conceptual clarity’ and the ‘ability to influence and persuade’, co-heads the practice with Nicolas Rico, who along with Pablo Hernández Hussein is also highlighted. Clients include Drufy, Mall Plaza Colombia, Constructora Bolívar and Aspen Colombia.

Under the leadership of Martha Bonett, Cavelier’s practice advises local and international entities on labour matters related to the implementation of business, corporate and commercial law.

Gómez-Pinzón Abogados (GPA) acts for major Colombian and foreign companies on all human resources matters and has particular experience in hiring, structuring employment agreements and compensation schemes, and in litigation and social security-related matters. ‘Knowledgeable’ senior associate Patricia Vergara heads the four-strong practice, with associate Juan Sebastián Restrepo also noted. The team represented an international foods company in a lawsuit by a former worker who alleged moral and material damages as a consequence of his dismissal. The Court of Appeals dismissed the claims.

Holland & Knight is a law firm with ‘excellent response-times’, that is 'very precise in its legal concepts’ and has a ‘broad knowledge of industry subjects’. Vicente Umaña heads the department, with associates Carolina Castro, Camilo Garcia and Laura Di Santo also recommended. The seven-strong practice advised Japan Tobacco International on all its immigration matters, involving the creation of complex expatriation plans of foreign employees and the processing of all immigration requirements for their development of job positions in Colombia. Grupo Conboca, Linde Colombia, Quality Water Services Colombia and Fondo Latinoamericano de Reservas are also clients of the practice.

Lloreda Camacho & Co. is experienced in handling labour topics derived from M&A operations, as well as immigration issues and litigation. The ‘very experienced' Enrique Álvarez leads the four-strong team which recently assisted Avianca regarding the method the company should employ for the calculation of labour pension provisions. Other clients include Boehringer Ingelheim and Global HITSS.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s five-strong practice, led by Isabella Gandini, principally represents the interests of employers operating in the energy, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and technology sectors, among others. The team is Puma Energy’s standing advisor on immigration matters, hiring processes and for general labour and employment advice. Additionally, it assisted the company with the implementation of a voluntary retirement plan. Other representative clients include NEM Mining, Bureau Veritas, Smith & Nephew and Newlink.

Baquero & Asociados S.A has experience advising on all labour-law related matters, especially in the oil and gas, education and retail sectors. The seven-strong practice is acting as legal advisor to Sintrenal, one of the largest Colombian unions with approximately 30,000 members, in the country’s first salary levelling case. Guillermo Alberto Baquero leads the practice.

TANNUS & ASOCIADOS undertakes labour advice, audits, due diligence, trainings and procedures before the various competent entities. The team is helping Intertug grow its operations in Jamaica, Bolivia, México, Brazil and Venezuela by developing all the labour and immigration bases for managerial and operational staff. Rodrigo Tannus is the key name.

Contexto Legal Abogados advises on collective negotiations, the labour aspects of M&A transactions, and in representation before the courts and administrative bodies. The five-strong team acted for Moldes Medellín in lawsuits brought by dismissed employees who undertook a strike which was declared illegal by the Supreme Court after the team’s intervention; the lawsuits were also dismissed. Guillermo Villegas Ortega is the name to note.

Created in 2016, DLA Piper Martinez Beltrán’s core labour practice is experienced in personnel restructuring and advice regarding transfer of personnel in M&A transactions, as well as advice on collective labour law, litigation, social security, immigration and administrative proceedings before authorities. The team acted for Grupo IGA in the negotiation of a collective bargaining agreement with Sintraimagra, one of the biggest unions in the food industry in Colombia. Senior associate Andrés Felipe Paz is the primary contact.

Garrigues established its labour department in 2016 with compliance and litigation as its core focus areas. The practice, which delivers a ‘good service’ in terms of ‘time-response and knowledge’, is led by senior associate Carlos Silva and is assisting an international construction company with post-project layoffs. Ignacio Londoño is also noted. Toxement, Rizzani de Eccher Spa and Oficina de Cooperación Universitaria Colombia are all active clients.

Muñoz Tamayo & Asociados’s labour team handles labour aspects for clients from all the firm’s other departments, offering a ‘first quality’ service and ‘always aware of the particularities of the customers’. Joe Bonilla, ‘a real expert in labour matters’ with over 21 years’ experience in the sector, heads the eight-strong practice. The team has been advising Monster Energy on both day-to-day and extraordinary labour matters, notably the drafting and implementation of the company’s health and safety management system.

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