Legalsa > Guatemala, Guatemala > Firm Profile

Legalsa
EUROPLAZA, TORRE II, 5o. NIVEL
5ª. AV. 5-55 ZONA 14
GUATEMALA CITY
Guatemala

Guatemala > Dispute resolution Tier 1

The ‘ideal team of legal advisers‘ at dispute resolution powerhouse Legalsa has expertise in civil, commercial, constitutional and criminal litigation, as well as in both domestic and international arbitration. Areas of strength include tax, labour, IP, public procurement and shareholders’ disputes. Founding partner Henry Comte is noted for his ‘significant experience‘ before the courts at all levels; he also serves part-time as an alternative magistrate of the Guatemalan Constitutional Court. Comte leads the team with Marisol Fión, whose practice spans administrative, civil and commercial litigation and arbitration, and Alejandro Penados, who specialises in shareholders’ and inheritance disputes, and also has notable experience in IP and unfair competition cases. The ‘first-rate' team of associates includes Julia González, a specialist in criminal litigation, particularly environmental, tax and white-collar criminal cases, and Andrés Dubón.

Practice head(s):

Henry Comte; Alejandro Penados; Marisol Fión

Testimonials

‘Legalsa has the ideal team of legal advisers who make clients feel supported and confident that they will get the desired results.’

‘The lawyers involve their clients; they made us feel like we were part of their team, which meant we received personalised advice.’

‘In my opinion, Legalsa is the best firm for dispute resolution at a local and international level. The principal partner, Henry Comte, has significant experience in the local and international courts in disputes involving not just the state of Guatemala but also businesses with operations in Guatemala and the rest of the world. It is also important to mention that Legalsa is very good at dealing with cases involving government institutions in Guatemala in an ethical manner. Finally, the partners and associates are all bilingual, which makes it much easier to deal with counter-parties who do not speak Spanish.’

‘What makes Legalsa excel is the experience of its lawyers, particularly Henry Comte, who is actively and personally involved in cases with the support of first-rate associates with local and international experience. This is without a doubt what makes them different from their competitors. Working with them, you can be sure that they will work collaboratively, that they will have a very detailed perspective on the case without losing sight of the overall picture, and that they will remain focused on making things easier and not complicating matters unnecessarily.’

‘They work together as a team, whatever their area of speciality, and their experience contributes to achieving the best results for clients.’

‘Alejandro Penados specialises in procedural matters. He has a lot of experience and is able to advise on (and mitigate) the next steps to be taken by the judicial authorities and counter-parties.’

‘The team members are very experienced in their field. Efficient and punctual.’

‘They work well as a team.’

Work highlights

  • Defending Administrador de Mercado Mayorista (AMM), a non-profit, non-governmental entity with oversight of the electricity wholesale market in Guatemala, against a claim brought by Broker Energy Company over the cancellation of its operating permit by the client.
  • Acting for a major manufacturing company in a long-running trade mark infringement case.

Guatemala > Corporate and M&A Tier 2

The ‘well-rounded' team at full-service domestic firm Legalsa is highly experienced in cross-border matters, including M&A transactions and joint ventures, as well as advising foreign direct investors on setting up operations in Guatemala. The firm has a niche expertise in advising start-ups, offering a pro bono programme, "Start-Ups Legalsa", which assists with incorporation and funding issues, led by associate José Bassila; it also regularly advises local family-owned businesses on corporate governance. Practice co-heads David Font and Johann Hartleben are skilled in cross-border M&A and the regional (and international) expansion of local businesses, while senior associates Mónica Linares and Camilo Peña (who joined the firm in January 2020 from Carrillo & Asociados) bring additional expertise in real estate and tax matters, respectively.

Practice head(s):

David Font; Johann Hartleben

Testimonials

‘Excellent support and a personalised service.

‘The team stands out for its personal service and streamlining of procedures. They deal with my questions and concerns immediately.

‘Legalsa has the most well-rounded team in Guatemala. They have specialisms in every area of law, which is an enormous advantage.

‘Knowledge of all areas of the law.

Work highlights

  • Advised a credit-card payment processing company on the expansion of its business into Guatemala.
  • Advised a delivery app on the Guatemalan aspects of the $270m sale of its operations in Latin America to a German company.
  • Advised a telecoms company on its acquisition of the operating assets and radio-frequency rights of internet service provider Unitel, which operates as Yego Internet in Central America.

Guatemala > Intellectual property Tier 2

Legalsa‘s ‘very experienced‘ team advises clients on the management of their IP portfolios throughout Central America, acting for regional and international companies from the energy, sport, technology, financial services and aviation sectors, among others. As well as advising on oppositions and renewals, the team assists with the IP aspects of M&A and is skilled in IP litigation, particularly cases involving trade mark infringements by third parties on social media. The full-service firm also has a specialist pro bono practice for start-ups, led by associate José Bassilla, and a newly launched e-commerce programme, both of which offer advice on IP issues (among others). The ‘excellentKarina Calderón leads the team, supported by associate Oscar Herrera. Alejandro Penados also assists with contentious matters.

Practice head(s):

Karina Calderón

Testimonials

‘Our experience with Legalsa has been very good. Communication, both internally and with clients, is smooth and on time. Likewise, both partners and associates work together on our matters, which as a client is appreciated. Knowing the team gives us peace of mind that their advice has the support and foundation that we require, which has been reflected in the cases we have had together.’

‘The quality that makes Legalsa stand out over other firms is the clarity in the answers and information they provide, which is also delivered in a timely manner. We would like to highlight Karina Calderon and Oscar Herrera.’

‘The team are very experienced in their field and always respond promptly and diligently. Their advice is accurate and comprehensive.’

‘Karina Calderón stands out for her kindness, availability and promptness in answering our questions.’

‘The work of the entire Legalsa team is highly personalised. You receive continuous advice, always in detail, and the lawyers’ doors are always open to clients.’

‘The firm is widely known in Guatemala and one of the best in the field of IP. The team is young and knowledgeable, with excellent service and extensive mastery of the subject matter. Karina Calderón and Oscar Herrera are excellent. Their expertise in this area gives clients confidence.’

‘Excellent, personalised client service.’

Work highlights

  • Advising the owner of a major Guatemalan rum brand on the management of its large portfolio of distinctive signs and on trade mark infringements on social media.
  • Advising a major technology company on challenging the unauthorised use of its registered trade marks by the Guatemalan transportation company Yo Cargo.
  • Advising an educational organisation on the protection of its brand across Central America, including managing several applications in different countries.

Guatemala > Banking and finance Tier 3

Advising foreign investors on establishing financial services businesses in Guatemala is a key area of expertise for full-service domestic firm Legalsa, which also assists Guatemalan financial services companies with expanding their operations abroad. Other strengths include real estate and aviation finance and debt restructurings. The team also has experience in fintech matters, and a key part of its client base is made up of emerging technology platforms for the processing of payments and money transfers. David Font and Johann Hartleben jointly lead the team.

Practice head(s):

David Font; Johann Hartleben

Work highlights

  • Advising a client in the agricultural sector on a $135m syndicated loan from four major Guatemalan banks for the purpose of financing its operations.
  • Advising a foreign payment services company on the expansion of its business into Guatemala.
  • Assisted a Central American money transfer company with the $3.5m acquisition of a 20% share in Spanish payments company as part of its international expansion plans.

Guatemala > Real estate Tier 3

Legalsa acts for a number of large Guatemalan real estate developers, advising on the financing and development of residential, commercial and hospitality properties (particularly high-end apartment and office buildings in Guatemala City). The team is also experienced in advising on the negotiation of lease agreements, especially for shopping centres and office complexes, horizontal property regimes and property disputes, and has seen an increase in work involving the renegotiation of rental agreements as a result of the pandemic. Founding partner David Font leads the team with senior associate Mónica Linares, while Johann Hartleben is experienced in real estate transactions.

Practice head(s):

David Font; Mónica Linares

Work highlights

  • Advising a real estate developer on the development of several high-rise luxury apartment buildings in Guatemala City, including the 27-storey Torre Premiere Club building.
  • Advising a Panamanian holding company on a joint venture with an infrastructure group to develop and construct a build-to-suit warehouse to be leased to a food company for use as a national distribution centre.
  • Advised Hunter Warfield on the purchase of new office premises and the negotiation of its leasing arrangements.
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Legalsa, has grown into one of the leading law firms in Guatemala, providing services as a one-stop firm and becoming real business advisors for big companies and for new entrepreneurs. The firm has been successful in dispute resolution, corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, banking, intellectual property and administrative law related to bids and concessions. Recently, the firm has grown its portfolio in real estate and has also lead the legal advising for startups and entrepreneurs area in the country.

Main areas of practice
Aviation: In recent years, the firm has been recognised by the market as a firm with special expertise in the sale and acquisition of aircrafts in Guatemala. From 2017 to today the firm has formalised aircraft sales transactions, both locally and internationally.

Banking law: The firm provides a full range of legal services for international and national banks and financial institutions including syndicated loans and leasing contracts.

Corporate and M&A: The firms acts as a regular outside counsel for new and established corporations in several business sectors which include: banks, food and beverage, manufacturing, call centres, shipping, power generation, shopping malls, agricultural industries an real estate development, among others. The firms has advised and represented national and foreign investors in cross-border transactions, including M&A and joint ventures, and doing comprehensive legal advice and assistance to direct foreign investors for organisation, set up, start-up and ongoing operation of new business ventures in Guatemala.

Dispute resolution: The firm provides specialised dispute resolution services which include civil and administrative litigation, arbitration, credit recovery, intellectual property litigation, constitutional law actions and criminal law proceedings. The firm is best known in Guatemala for its capabilities in: highly complex, ‘bet the company’ litigation; shareholder dispute resolution and prevention; Dispute resolution involving government procurement, concessions and public tenders; and white collar and business crimes.

Intellectual property: The firm has extensive experience in implementing intellectual property strategies for companies on the IT and financial services sector. This includes strategies for the protection and defense of intellectual property rights, agreements such as license, franchising, confidentiality (NDA), non-compete, technology transfer, distribution, and others. The firm provides advisory services to artists on copyright protection for works of art, auction management, and works of art resale rights.

Immigration: The firm handles different clients in their matters in the immigration field, both national and internationally.

Real estate: The firm is best known for having upscale developers as clients that require special neighbour regulations to determine the correct use of the different amenities on their buildings. Structuring Horizontal Property regimes and the related contracts and documents to ensure projects success. Estate planning for family estates that have a large number or complex assets. Enforceability and execution of lease contracts in shopping centres and office complexes.

Startups Legalsa: In 2017 the firm officially launched the project ‘Startups Legalsa’, which aims to serve as legal advisors for entrepreneurs and startups. The entrepreneurship ecosystem in Guatemala has been growing in recent years, and through this project, the firm has been known as the pioneer and leading firm by sharing knowledge and participating as legal mentors with different private entities as incubators and accelerators, as well as public sector entities like the Ministry of Economy.

Tax: Comte & Font – Legalsa advises clients in the design and execution of tax planning for corporate businesses and transactions as well as tax litigation.

Languages: Spanish, English, German, French.

DepartmentNameEmailTelephone
Senior contacts Henry Comtehenry.comte@legalsa.com
Senior contacts David Fontdavid.font@legalsa.com
Administrative Law David Fontdavid.font@legalsa.com
Corporate/M&A Johann Hartlebenjohann.hartleben@legalsa.com
Dispute Resolution Alejandro Penadosalejandro.penados@legalsa.com
Dispute Resolution Marisol Fiónmarisol.fion@legalsa.com
Dispute Resolution Julia Gonzálezjulia.gonzalez@legalsa.com
Dispute Resolution Juan Carlos Alvizurezjuancarlos.alvizurez@legalsa.com
Banking and finance David Fontdavid.font@legalsa.com
Intellectual property Karina Calderónkarina.calderon@legalsa.com
Direct foreign investment Johann Hartlebenjohann.hartleben@legalsa.com
Real Estate Mónica Linaresmonica.linares@legalsa.com
Tax/estate planning David Fontdavid.font@legalsa.com
Constiutional Law Javier Comparinijavier.comparini@legalsa.com
Startups Jose Bassilajose.bassila@legalsa.com
Other fee-earners : 9
Total staff : 45
Spanish
English
French
German
Partners : 6