Legal Market Overview
2018 and the beginning of 2019 were largely dominated by political insecurity in El Salvador due to the long build-up to the presidential elections. On 3 February 2019, Nayib Bukele, representing Gran Alianza por La Unidad Nacional (GANA) and the “Nuevas Ideas” movement, was elected as president, taking office on 1 June 2019. This choice has had a calming effect on the country’s economy, although the new president’s exact political agenda remains largely unclear. After decades of rule by either extreme left or right-wing politicians, Bukele’s more liberal opinions and especially his efforts to improve relations with the US have been able to settle the unstable situation to some extent.
However, the persistent uncertainty has affected the corporate and finance markets in particular, where leading practices report very slow but steady growth. Fewer new corporations entered the Salvadoran market; instead, mergers and acquisitions were on a high, with the sale of Telefónica’s regional operations being the most prominent transaction. In terms of foreign investments, financing for renewable energy projects such as wind or solar power plants is an upcoming trend. In general, law firms reported an increase in arbitration and litigation, especially cases related to intellectual property rights and anti-counterfeiting. Similarly, real estate practitioners noticed a lot of movement in the construction sector, ranging from residential and commercial to infrastructure projects, as the government has started to issue long-awaited permits.
The league of legal market leaders has not undergone any major changes, with regional firms Arias and Consortium Legal remaining on top of their game. Other regional Central American contenders in the highly competitive Salvadoran market are Aguilar Castillo Love, BLP, Lexincorp and García & Bodán, along with local firms such as Benjamín Valdez & Asociados Abogados/Notarios, De La Gasca & Cía., Espino Nieto & Asociados, Romero Pineda and Portal & Asociados.