Mr Jose Vicente Zapata > Holland & Knight > Bogota, Colombia > Lawyer Profile

Holland & Knight
Carrera 7 # 71-21
Torre A, Piso 8
Bogotá, DC, Colombia

Work Department

Energy | Environment | Natural Resources | International and Cross-Border Transactions | Mergers and Acquisitions | Bankruptcy, Restructuring and Creditors' Rights | Mining | Climate Change | Class Action Litigation and Arbitration | Anti-Corruption and FCPA | Compliance Services | International Arbitration and Litigation | Wind Energy | Renewable Energy | Solar Energy | Oil and Gas | International Energy | Carbon Capture and Storage




José Vicente Zapata is an attorney in Holland & Knight’s Bogotá office and has more than 30 years of experience in the natural resources sector. He focuses his practice on corporate, contractual and commercial matters, with a strong focus in spin-offs, mergers and acquisitions. Mr. Zapata co-chairs the firm’s Venezuela Focus Team, a group of partners who assists clients with interests in the country.

Mr. Zapata has led regulatory matters for many years on the environment, energy and natural resources. He has experience with corporate compliance matters, including the definition of ethics programs, Sistema de Autocontrol y Gestión del Riesgo Integral de Lavado de Activos y Financiación del Terrorismo (SAGRILAFT) and knowledge management for effective regulatory compliance, as well as liability cases for contractual and non-contractual damages.

Mr. Zapata’s clients include electric, oil, gas, mining, agrochemical and industrial companies, and he advises them on the structuring of foreign investment transactions, corporate reorganizations, and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) as well as matters of environmental liability and judicial proceedings such as class actions and international claims.

Throughout his career, Mr. Zapata has represented clients in many of the largest transactions made in Colombia to date in the energy, mining, oil and gas sectors, and assisted a range of companies in entering the energy market, obtaining mining and oil and gas concessions and structuring the contractual arrangements for such purposes. He negotiates share purchase and sale agreements, foreign direct investment management, asset purchase and sale agreements (including commercial establishments), joint operating agreements, farm-in and farm-outs, distribution, franchising and agency agreements, collaboration agreements, real estate regulatory mechanisms, structuring of real estate projects, authorizations and operating permits. More recently, Mr. Zapata is active in renewable energy projects and has led wind farm, solar ventures and energy storage solutions as well as hydrogen and geothermal regulatory assessments, including zoning analysis, management of protected and exclusion zones and areas, and analysis of legal options for land use definition. Mr. Zapata also participates in key financing and structuring of transactions in these sectors, with particular attention on environmental, social and governance (ESG) requirements.

In addition, Mr. Zapata has significant experience in critical environmental liability cases and class action litigation in Colombia. Among them are complex cases where communities and companies discuss their corresponding rights, including prior consultation events, controlled substances and environmental authorizations, permits and licenses.

Mr. Zapata has acted as co-counsel in major international commercial and investor-state arbitrations, involving sensitive international judicial matters of Colombian interest under the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) rules. These matters focus in energy and natural resources concerning disputes across the oil and gas, electricity, infrastructure and mining sectors.

Beyond his law practice, Mr. Zapata is a regular speaker at conferences in Latin America and has published multiple books and articles on matters of sustainable development, oil and gas, renewable energy, hydrocarbons, climate change and renewable energies. In addition, he has served on various boards of directors, headed numerous successful companies and served as professor of corporate responsibility, environmental liability and sustainable development at Universidad Colegio Mayor de Nuestra Señora del Rosario, Universidad de Los Andes and Universidad Externado de Colombia


English - Spanish - French


  • Association of International Energy Negotiators, Board of Directors
  • American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Member
  • Association on International Petroleum Negotiators (AIPN), Member
  • Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, Member
  • European Society of International Law, Member
  • International Bar Association, Committee Section on Energy, Environment, Natural Resources and Infrastructure Law
  • Institute for Energy Law, Center for American and International Law, Member
  • Colegio de Abogados de Minas y Petroleos
  • American Society of International Law
  • Institute of Environmental Law, Secretary General
  • Gerson Lehrman Group
  • Asociación Iberoamericana de Derecho de la Energía, Member


  • Colombian Association of Engineers (ACIEM), Certificate, Development and Execution of Solar Projects (Trends, Operation and Maintenance)
  • United Nations Institute for Training and Research, International Environmental Law (E-Learning)
  • Yale School of Management, Executive Management Program for Lawyers
  • Bureau Veritas, ISO 14001 Lead Auditor, International Law
  • McGill University, LL.M., Sustainable Development and International Business Law
  • Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, J.D.

Lawyer Rankings

Colombia > Corporate and M&A

Attentive, judicious and always willing to provide top-level advice’, Holland & Knight shored up its corporate offering in May 2023 with its absorption of former tier four-ranked firm, Cuberos Cortés Gutiérrez Abogados. Among the new additions, the department welcomed Gustavo Cuberos, a founding partner at his previous firm, Alba Malagón, who is noted for her experience in cross-border transactions, and next-generation partner Julia Velásquez. The department continues to be steered by executive office partner Enrique Gómez-Pinzón, who splits his time between Bogotá and Washington DC. The team also draws on the senior level expertise of transactional energy specialists José Vicente Zapata and Ines Elvira Vesga, while associates Natalia Cuberos, Diana Paola Serrano and Isabella Díaz provide support. Former department co-head Lucas Saffon-López  left the firm in May 2022.

Colombia > Energy and natural resources

(Leading individuals)

José Vicente ZapataHolland & Knight

According to satisfied clients, Holland & Knightapplies innovative criteria to address the situations to be resolved’. The Tampa-headquartered firm acts for a mix of local and multinational clients, with the local Bogotá office having the ability to plug into a network of 220 energy lawyers across its global platform to resource cross-border matters. Experienced group head José Vicente Zapata maintains a broad energy and natural resources practice, which spans corporate, commercial and regulatory matters — for clients operating in the electricity, oil and gas, mining, agrochemical, and industrial sectors. Other senior names include Ines Elvira Vesga, who has a focus on oil and gas, of counsel Milton Fernando Montoya, who specialises in mining work, and newly promoted (January 2023) public law partner Juan Casallas. Margarita Solorza (energy and environmental) and Estefanny Pardo (dispute resolution and natural resources) were both promoted to senior counsel in January 2023.

Colombia > Dispute resolution > Litigation

In May 2023, Holland & Knight’s Bogotá office absorbed 28-lawyer-strong business law firm Cuberos Cortés Gutiérrez. Among the new arrivals is former Cuberos head of litigation José Gutierréz Mestre, who is highlighted for his ‘assertive, effective and intellectual communication’. The team is well versed across a mix of commercial, constitutional and administrative law, while its broad international platform positions it well for multi-jurisdictional disputes. It is also noted for its experience in contentious energy and environmental matters, due to the expertise of high-profile energy specialist Jose Vicente Zapata. Other senior names include newly promoted (January 2023) partner Juan Casallas, who specialises in public law, and constitutional and administrative litigation; and Danilo Romero, who specialises in IP, consumer protection, and media and entertainment law. Estefanny Pardo, who is recommended for contentious environmental law matters, was raised to senior counsel in January 2023.

Colombia > Environment

(Leading individuals)

José Vicente ZapataHolland & Knight

Considered by some as the benchmark for environmental law in Colombia, Holland & Knight’s expertise encompasses a comprehensive range of sectors, including hydrocarbons, energy, mining, manufacturing, agriculture, and food and beverage-related issues. The team is equipped to handle the full scope of matters, from environmental audits and due diligence procedures, right through to major infrastructure project-related work; it also routinely represents clients before administrative and judiciary authorities. Jose Vicente Zapata spearheads the group and is widely revered as a reference in the market; he is currently advising Carbones del Cerrejón on several constitutional claims arising from consultation controversies with ethnic communities. The group also draws on litigator Juan Casallas, who was raised to the partnership in January 2023, as well as energy and environmental law-focused associate lawyers Margarita Solorza and Estefanny Pardo, who were both promoted to senior counsel in January 2023.

Colombia > Public law

Holland & Knight’s May 2023 absorption of Cuberos Cortés Gutiérrez (CCG) reinforces its solid public law offering. The former firm is arguably best known for its strength in public environmental law, where it advises major energy, natural resources and infrastructure clients on regulatory and contentious matters. The arrival of the CCG team provides additional firepower in the transport sector, where the legacy firm was noted for its representation of major public transportation providers and operators. Department head José Vicente Zapata is an expert in public law issues concerning the environment, and the energy and natural resources sectors. The group also includes newly promoted (February 2023) partner Juan Casallas, who focuses on public law, and constitutional and administrative law disputes. Former CCG practice head Edwin Cortés Mejía is particularly noted for his record in the bus rapid transit (BRT) segment.