Legal market overview in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico had withstood a series of emergencies in recent years even before the spread of Covid-19 and the related lockdown. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States, already suffered from an unstable economy, a situation compounded in 2014 when its colossal sovereign debt was declared non-investment grade. In 2016, Puerto Rico declared bankruptcy and the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) was introduced. One year later, Hurricane Maria reached its shores and dealt a devastating blow to its infrastructure and led to a humanitarian crisis. In terms of legal work, tax still dominates the legal landscape in Puerto Rico. Companies constantly require expert advice to keep up with an ever-changing set of tax rules and regulations, as do high net-worth individuals. Being unable to secure more debt, the government is now pushing for public-private partnerships (PPPs) to drive growth, and many law firms with expertise in corporate, restructuring, financing and transactions are familiar with the work of the Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnerships Authority (P3A). Another significant flow of work originated from the privatisation of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) and the efforts to reorganise the power infrastructure in the territory. This encompasses an attempt to renovate antiquated power plants and switch to cleaner energy. In Puerto Rico's reasonably concentrated and tight-knit legal market, the vast majority of lawyers work as solo practitioners or in small firms. Litigation is a dominant area of practice and lawyers regularly appear in local courts, particularly in family law cases. Mid-sized firms are also present in the market, offering either a boutique service or balancing a broader commercial law portfolio. Large, local firms are infrequent and possibly even decreasing in number; Fiddler González & Rodríguez, a well-known firm in the local market, closed in 2017. With almost fifty partners, O'Neill & Borges is among the largest firms in the market; strong in many areas, it is recognised for its solid engagement with PROMESA. McConnell Valdés LLC has more than a hundred lawyers and has been among the market-leading firms in the country for many years. Ferraiuoli LLC has been aggressively expanding since its foundation and has also reached the top rungs of the market. The rest of the legal landscape is occupied by branches of global law firms, some of which opened in order to serve specific clients in Puerto Rico.