Legal Market Overview
As one of the region’s more stable economies, Uruguay has not suffered the dramatic effects of the pandemic that can be seen in some of its neighbouring countries. However, the worldwide economic downturn has been to a large extent unavoidable, and Uruguay’s economy contracted 5.9% in 2020.
The governing conservative National Party chose not to enact a full lockdown, but risk-reducing regulations were put in place across various sectors. New unemployment insurance for temporary unemployment was also introduced, although companies were still allowed to dismiss staff due to the pandemic. Teleworking legislation is likely to come into effect in 2021, reflecting the changing employment landscape.
Despite the hit to the economy, Uruguay’s fortunes compared to its neighbours mean it remains an attractive prospect for real estate investment from Brazil and Argentina, as well as for wealthy private individuals looking to relocate. Law firms’ real estate departments have seen an increase in foreign purchases of rural land, while tax teams frequently counsel individuals and small businesses on the benefits of moving to Uruguay, with a ten-year tax holiday on income from a foreign source proving attractive.
The legal market has not seen further major developments since the establishment of Dentons Jiménez de Aréchaga in April 2020 brought a rare international presence into the fray. The pool of firms in Uruguay befits the size of the country but the market is nevertheless sophisticated. Ferrere fields a host of teams that dominate across the range of practice areas, leveraging its presence in Paraguay and Bolivia to draw international clients looking to streamline advice in the region. Guyer & Regules is the other standout full-service firm, with both dominating in all main areas of business law.
Several small to medium-size firms make up a “chasing pack” of sorts, all providing services in multiple practice areas. The firms to look out for here include Posadas, Posadas & Vecino, Hughes & Hughes, Olivera Abogados, Bergstein Abogados and Dentons Jiménez de Aréchaga.
A small number of boutique firms also make their presence felt, particularly in the intellectual property arena, with Cervieri Monsuárez. Fernández Secco & Asociados and Fischer Abogados among the key players.
(Note: Unlike accountants, Uruguayan public notaries (escribanos) have the same educational requirements as lawyers. For the purposes of this chapter, such notaries are thereby included herein.)