DLA Piper Puerto Rico > San Juan, Puerto Rico > Firm Profile

DLA Piper Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN, PR 00901-1969
Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico > Corporate, commercial and banking Tier 2

The team at DLA Piper Puerto Rico coordinates with its US offices to advise national and multinational corporates and financial institutions (including UBS and Citibank), involved in high-value, multi-jurisdictional transactions. With an active client roster spanning the energy, infrastructure, financial services, government and tech sectors, the firm’s full offering covers such matters as M&A, debt financing, bank licensing and regulatory matters, project finance, public-private partnerships, and corporate and securities law transactions, in addition to private placements, fund formation, administrative law, spin-offs, and corporate reorganisations. The team is led by Puerto Rico managing partner Nikos Buxeda, who, in addition to international transactions, assists with the organisation of local mutual funds, private equity funds and distribution agreements. Other key figures include banking regulatory specialist José Sosa-Lloréns, deputy managing partner Miriam Figueroa, who brings strength to infrastructure and public law matters, and associate Adriana Pérez-Rentas.

Practice head(s):

Nikos Buxeda


Everything related to the stock market, banking and financial matters, as well as corporate issues, is handled impeccably by José Sosa-Llorens.

The team stand out for their knowledge, connections, mastery of the topic, and confidence and assertiveness in their strategies, approaches and actions.

DLA’s commerical and corporate team work very closely with each other and the client to accomplish the legal matter at hand. They have a strong bench of attorneys of various levels of seniority. They are responsive and practical in their advice.

Miriam Figaroa is a superstar. She works incredibly hard and is thorough, thoughtful and creative in her advice. We’re incredibly fortunate to have her on our team.

Nikos Buxeda has a broad range of legal knowledge and expertise, and provides practical problem-solving for us.

Key clients

Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority

Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnerships Authority

Puerto Rico Housing Finance Authority

FV Bank International

Crestline Direct Finance

FirstBank Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Banking Association

RioBlanco Capital

Stonecrest Investment Management

LUMA Energy

Biomass Green Fuels




Work highlights

  • Advised Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) on the procurement process and negotiation of contracts with major US suppliers of automatised water meters and remote reading systems as part of PRASA’s plan to improve revenues and reduce technical losses.
  • Advised Puerto Rico Housing Finance Authority on the federal tax-exempt obligations in order to issue 4% low income tax credits.
  • Represented several funds managed by Crestline Direct Finance, through a special purpose vehicle, on the acquisition of 100% of the membership interests of the holding company of the B-Billboard Media group.

Puerto Rico > Energy, natural resources and environment Tier 2

The experienced energy and natural resources team at DLA Piper Puerto Rico provides a one-stop shop to advise regulators, the regulated, investors, developers and other key industry stakeholders, including governments, over the course of a major project’s entire lifecycle, from inception and development to completion, operation and sale. With a client base that includes power generators and multinational corporates across the utilities, energy, logistics and tech sectors, the group’s full service covers assistance with project finance, regulatory compliance, high-value, cross-border transactions, restructuring and dispute resolution. The team is led by deputy managing partner Miriam Figueroa, who assists with negotiating power purchase agreements and private operations contracts. Of counsel Laura Rozas brings 25 years of experience in the practice area and specialises in Puerto Rico and federal environmental law and Puerto Rico energy and land use law.

Practice head(s):

Miriam Figueroa

Key clients

Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority

Luma Energy

Biomass Green Fuels


PRTC (Claro)

Clean Energy Nexus




Work highlights

  • Assisted the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) in the procurement process and negotiation of contracts with major US suppliers of automatised water meters and remote reading systems.
  • Advising Biomass Green Fuels on corporate, tax, permitting and environmental matters as well as energy regulation and financing of the project.
  • Advising Luma Energy on energy regulatory matters affecting the operations of the company, including representing it before the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau in various regulatory cases.

Puerto Rico > Tax Tier 2

The experienced team at DLA Piper Puerto Rico brings expertise to advising insurers, domestic financial institutions and multinational corporates such as AT&T, Southwest Airlines, Air Canada and Bacardi on a wide array of matters across the practice area, including tax planning and structuring, complex financial transactions, transfer pricing, tax audits and appeals, and tax litigation. The group’s active client base spans the aviation, financial services, food and beverages, telecoms and government sectors. The team is headed by Manuel López-Zambrana, an expert in tax controversies who assists clients with complex US federal and Puerto Rican income tax matters and with obtaining Puerto Rican tax incentives for manufacturing and IP licensing activities. Another key individual is of counsel Edwin Figueroa Alvarez, who provides support to start-ups and businesses on the tax aspects of establishing operations in Puerto Rico.

Practice head(s):

Manuel López-Zambrana

Key clients

Banco Popular of Puerto Rico

FirstBank Puerto Rico

AT&T of Puerto Rico

Southwest Airlines

Bacardi Corporation

Air Canada

Fundación Angel Ramos


Puerto Rico > Dispute resolution and bankruptcy Tier 3

Leveraging the experience of its team and the bench strength of a global network spanning the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia Pacific region, the dispute resolution team at DLA Piper Puerto Rico assists local authorities, financial institutions, individuals, and national and multinational corporates across such sectors as energy, financial services, technology and healthcare with complex, high-stakes arbitration and commercial litigation. The firm’s full service extends to claims related to breach of contract, damages, employment matters, distribution agreements, intellectual property and consumer rights. In addition, the firm has a dedicated white-collar crime and investigations group. The team is led by experienced litigator and arbitrator Margarita Mercado, who previously served as the Solicitor General for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and white-collar crime expert Nereida Melendez-Rivera, who joined the firm with Sonia Torres-Pabón, the other former founder of Meléndez Torres Law, PSC and a former Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, in July 2022. Another key figure is of counsel Mariana Muñiz-Lara, who brings strength to matters involving intellectual property and employment law.

Practice head(s):

Margarita Mercado; Nereida Meléndez

Key clients

Luma Energy

Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority

Stericycle of Puerto Rico

Work highlights

  • Represented Stericycle in a challenge to an award by the Puerto Rico Medical Services Administration of a contract for hauling and destruction services of regulated and non-regulated biomedical materials.
  • Represented Luma Energy in a successful dismissal of a complaint for a preliminary and permanent injunction brought by a Puerto Rico Municipality to assert authority to repair elements of Puerto Rico’s power grid without participation by Luma, the grid’s operator.

Puerto Rico > Labour and employment Tier 3

The labour and employment team at DLA Piper Puerto Rico assists national and multinational corporates across such sectors as pharmaceuticals, energy, manufacturing, software and financial services on day-to-day matters and in complex litigation. Janine Guzman heads the team, bringing experience to matters related to wages and hours, statutory licences, employee benefits, discipline and termination, business restructurings, reductions in force and relocations, discrimination, employee privacy, confidentiality, restrictive covenants, and immigration. Another key figure is of counsel Mariana Muñiz-Lara, who represents public and private entities before state and federal first instance and appellate courts, as well as before administrative agencies and arbitral forums.

Practice head(s):

Janine Guzman


Personalised client service.

Honesty and expertise.

Key clients

Zen Spa Enterprises

Antilles Cleaning Services

North Janitorial Services

Terumo Puerto Rico



Latin America: International firms > Banking and finance

DLA Piper LLP (US)’s sizeable Latin America team in the US alongside practitioners in the region itself, provides a solid platform for a growing banking and finance practice. The firm has built an enviable client base, particularly Latin American borrowers, and is widely recognised for its geographic spread of engagements in project finance and large restructurings. The team was further strengthened by the hire of Latin America banking and finance specialist Robert da Silva Ashley from McDermott Will & Emery LLP in April 2023; splitting his time between New York and Miami, he brings wide-ranging experience in project finance and corporate lending, including wind and solar projects. Margarita Oliva Sainz de Aja is co-regional head of Latin America banking and finance, and is another experienced figure in project finance and general corporate lending. Mexico City partner Edgar Romo and Lima’s Sergio Barboza, are also co-regional heads of the group, and are key figures within the team, along with José Sosa-Lloréns in Puerto Rico. Raul Farias, who splits his time between San Diego and New York has made a big impression in cross-border financings and refinancings, and has also led on a series of large-scale restructuring engagements; he was the lead partner in advising Mexico-based Crédito Real on its $2.9bn global debt restructuring encompassing six different jurisdictions and more than 45 different creditors. Since publication, the team has been strengthened with the hires of Sao Paulo-based Bruno Soares (who has built a well-rounded practice and a strong record in financings across the region, including ESG-linked loans) and the New York-based Joseph Stefano (a specialist in secured and unsecured corporate financing) – effective as of February and April 2024, respectively.  

Practice head(s):

Margarita Oliva Sainz de Aja; Edgar Romo; Sergio Barboza


We structured one of our financings with the firm. We worked in a fairly integrated way between the internal and external team, with cost-efficient results that are solid and sustainable in the long term.

Margarita Oliva is very knowledgeable and expert in the renewable energy sector in Latam and also knows the finance-players normally involved in financing this type of project. This allows negotiations to be approached with accurate knowledge of the applicable standards. She was very present throughout the consultancy, allowing matters to continue advancing in an orderly and systematic manner towards the objective.

Key clients


Grupo Bafar

Crédito Real

Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnership Authority

Grupo Famsa

Famsa USA


Bank of China

Cultiva Financial

Banco Compartamos

Work highlights

  • Represented Mexico City-based regional restaurant operator, Alsea, on its  $1bn-plus debt restructuring in the US and related senior notes issuances for $500m (due 2026), and €300m (due 2027), in the US.
  • Represented Grupo Bafar in connection with the refinancing of loan facilities and a private placement of a bond worth $150m in the US.
  • Advised Crédito Real on its liability management exercise to refinance its Swiss Franc bonds.

Latin America: International firms > Projects and energy

DLA Piper LLP (US) has a large team of Latin America specialists, spread across its US and Latin America offices. It has extensive connections to developers and project sponsors, and is increasingly building its presence in renewables and energy transition matters (including wind, solar, hydro and battery storage). The practice is also noted for PPP transactions, thanks to its headline role in advising LUMA Energy as the winning bidder in the PPP transaction for the management and operation of the transmission and distribution assets of the state-owned electricity utility in Puerto Rico. The firm is further noted for its M&A expertise in energy and infrastructure, including portfolio acquisitions of renewables assets. Marcello Hallake has joined the New York office from Jones Day, bringing significant energy sector transactional expertise. New York’s Margarita Oliva Sainz de Aja is Latin America head of banking and finance and has an excellent record in project financings in the region. San Juan partner Miriam Figueroa is a key figure in PPPs and infrastructure projects. Santiago partner Diego Peña is also an integral team member, as is Raul Farias in San Diego/New York. Since publication, the practice has been furhter strengthened with the hire of Sao Paulo-based Bruno Soares from A&O Shearman - effective as of February 2024.  

Practice head(s):

Margarita Oliva Sainz de Aja

Key clients

Innergex Renewable Energy

Luma Energy

Companhia Energetica de Minas Gerais (Cemig)

Total Energies

Empresa Distribuidora y Comercializadora Norte (EDENOR)

Puerto Rico Republic – Private Partnership Authority


Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation

Termoelectrica El Tesorito


CarbonFree Technology

SUSI Partners


Work highlights

  • Advised Innergex Renewable Energy, as borrower, on the structuring and execution of a $803m refinancing transaction for its portfolio of assets in Chile.
  • Advised LUMA Energy, as winning bidder, on the PPP transaction for the management and operation of the transmission and distribution assets of the Puerto Rico state-owned electricity utility.
  • Advised Empresa Distribuidora y Comercializadora Norte (Edenor) on the issuance of Class 1 Notes, which marked the issuer’s debut in social bonds issuance.

DLA Piper Latin America’s Team offers full-service business legal counsel to domestic and multinational companies with interests in and operations throughout the region. Our integrated approach to serving clients combines local knowledge with the resources of the DLA Piper global platform. With over 400 lawyers practicing throughout Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru, and Puerto Rico, our teams frequently work with our professionals throughout the LatAm region, Iberian Peninsula, and around the globe to ensure our clients receive the depth of service they require to meet their legal and business objectives.

DLA Piper assists with business transactions and cross-border disputes throughout Latin America. We handle matters in every country in the region and across every industry sector in which our clients operate. As the level of sophisticated cross-border activity continues to grow throughout the entire region, DLA Piper continues to expand services to clients with a Latin America presence through our cooperation with Campos Mello Advogados in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil and with our DLA Piper multi-disciplinary practice with offices in:

  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Lima, Peru
  • Mexico City, Mexico
  • Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil (Campos Mello Advogados in cooperation with DLA Piper)
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Santiago, Chile

Our experience in Latin America includes assisting companies from inside and outside the region with the full range of business, legal and commercial services that DLA Piper provides worldwide:

  • Capital markets
  • Compliance and investigations
  • Energy, mining and natural resources
  • Family groups
  • Franchise and distribution
  • Hospitality management agreements
  • Inbound and outbound capital investments
  • Insurance and reinsurance
  • Intellectual property and technology transfer, registration
  • International arbitration
  • Labor and employment, immigration
  • Litigation
  • M&A
  • Market entry
  • Privacy and data security, e-commerce
  • Private equity and debt financing
  • Project finance and public-private partnerships
  • Real estate investment
  • Tax structuring, transfer pricing, imports and market access issues
  • Telecommunications, media, and entertainment regulation and licensing

A number of our lawyers were born or raised and educated in the region and are fluent in Spanish and/or Portuguese. Many have also practiced law in both the US and Latin America and are intimately familiar with civil law systems and with the cultural and legal nuances required to successfully do business in the region. Our strategic relationships on the ground throughout Latin America enhance our understanding of the region and enable us to provide our clients practical, meaningful legal advice. DLA Piper’s global platform of 90+ offices in more than 40 countries enables us to serve all of our clients’ legal needs, whether they are based in Latin America or wish to do business there.

The United States, specifically New York and Florida, has deep economic and cultural ties to Latin America. After many decades of being at the center of the most complex cross-border matters related to Latin America, New York law is firmly established as the most widely accepted  applicable/governing law on cross-border transactions related to Latin America.

Our US based team of Latin America practitioners regularly acts as lead counsel on a wide range of cross-border matters in Latin America, ranging from complex capital markets,  finance and M&A matters to public private partnerships and market entry and establishment issues. For more information, visit https://www.dlapiper.com/en/latinamerica/

Department Name Email Telephone
Corporate Miriam Figueroa, Managing Partner miriam.figueroa@us.dlapiper.com +1 787.930.9494

Harmonizing leaves of absence – top points for employers

The Interaction between different statutory leaves of absence and whether a duty to accommodate is warranted after job reinstatement.

By:  Janine Guzmán


Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States, and due to its political affiliation with the mainland, most federal employment legislation applies on the island along with local laws. The legal scheme becomes even more complex as we consider that Puerto Rico is a highly regulated jurisdiction in the employment context.

For example, there are approximately 19 statutory leaves of absence[1], of which several are health related.  Add to this the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which also applies to Puerto Rico – and voluntary leaves of absences typically provided by employers, such as bereavement and paternity leaves[2] and paid holidays.  Human resources leaders are tasked with harmonizing leaves of absence that may apply simultaneously and maintain an accurate administration of the benefits provided by the different leaves.

In this article, we will address the challenge of reasonable accommodation requests made by employees returning from health-related leaves of absence and whether there is indeed a duty to accommodate.


The occupational disability leave of absence[3]

Puerto Rico differs from the continental United States in that Workers Compensation is a mandatory governmental policy.  The State Insurance Fund Corporation (SIF), a public corporation, issues policies and administers claims under the statute.  Coverage must be secured with the agency prior to or simultaneously with the employment of employees. This law covers exempt and non-exempt employees. Securing policies with the SIF has further benefits for employers, as they become immune from claims by employees for work related accidents, so long as they comply with timely payment of the policy premiums[4].

An employee who suffers a work-related accident or illness is entitled to certain statutory benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act, including rehabilitative medical treatment, diets, and compensation for permanent total or partial disability. The cost of all of these benefits is covered by the SIF, again, so long as the employer complies with timely payment of the policy premiums.

Additionally, employers are required to reserve the employee’s position for one year (equivalent to 12 months or 360 days) from the onset of the injury if the employee is placed on rest – meaning that they are unable to perform the duties of their position while recovering from the work-related accident.

The employer must reinstate the employee upon recovery if (i) the employee requests reinstatement within the 12 month period from the date of the inception of the disability and within 15 days from receiving medical discharge from the SIF; (ii) at the time of the request, the employee is mentally and physically able to perform their duties; and (iii) the employee’s job has not been eliminated at the time of the request.

It is worth noting that employers have an affirmative duty to inform the employee about the leave benefits. If the employer refuses to refer the employee to the SIF for medical treatment or terminates the employee during such time without cause, the employee can bring a claim for back pay, reinstatement, and damages. However, the law provides that, once the employment reserve period has expired and the employee has not returned to work, the employer may terminate the employment relationship without need to compensate the employee.

The non-occupational short-term disability leave of absence[5]

The Non-Occupational Short Term Disability Act[6], known by its Spanish acronym as SINOT, mandates employers to provide insurance coverage for all exempt and non-exempt employees for non-occupational illnesses or accidents.  The employer has an option of securing coverage under a government administered plan or with a private insurance carrier. For the latter, the private plan must be approved by the Secretary of Labor of Puerto Rico.  During the first six months of the leave, the employee is entitled to temporary disability benefits ranging from $12.00 to $113.00 weekly for up to 26 weeks within a 52-week period. During the rest period, the employee receives medical treatment from their private physician.

As with the SIF, (i) the employee is entitled to an employment reserve of one year (equivalent to 12 months or 360 days) from the onset of the accident or injury; (ii) employers must inform the employee about the leave benefit; (iii) failure to reinstate the employee shall lead to a claim for back pay, reinstatement, and damages; and (iv) the employer may dismiss the employee after the expiration of the employment reserve.


The principle of reasonable accommodation.  How is it defined?

We have examined to two sources of definition to assess what constitutes a reasonable accommodation: (i) the definition established by the applicable federal statute, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)[7] and the Puerto Rico’s Disability Discrimination Act[8], and (ii) the definition of the term according to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary.


The ADA was established to counteract discrimination by prohibiting any actions that disadvantage individuals based on (i) a physical or mental impairment that “substantially limits” a major life activity,[9] or (ii) a history or record of such an impairment, or (iii) a perception by others as having such an impairment.  Pursuant to the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), “substantially limiting” is defined as “materially restricting,” a standard that is easier to meet, since an impairment does not have to prevent or significantly restrict a major life activity to meet the burden of a disability under the law[10].

Additionally, both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the US Department of Justice have stated that a medical condition does not need to be long-term, permanent, or severe to be substantially limiting.  In addition, if symptoms come and go, what matters is how limiting the symptoms are when they are active[11].

Employers must consider requests for reasonable accommodations made by disabled employees as part of the protections afforded by ADA. This is commonly referred to as “the duty to accommodate.”  A reasonable accommodation is defined by ADA as “any change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities.”[12]

The employer must engage in an interactive process with the employee to meet the duty to accommodate. This is a collaborative effort to identify a suitable accommodation for the individual. This interactive process should involve the employee, designated officials, and relevant committees, as the case might be, and should aim to determine the most appropriate and effective reasonable accommodation for the employee. Open communication throughout the process is encouraged, especially in situations where (i) the specific limitations or challenges faced by the individual are unclear, (ii) identifying an effective accommodation requires further exploration, (iii) different accommodation options are being considered, and (iv) the current accommodation is no longer effective, necessitating a new solution.

Failure to accommodate claims have increased in recent years. According to a study conducted in 2019, out of the 22.8 percent of all working age adults, 47 to 58 percent of accommodation sensitive individuals lack accommodation[13].

Merriam Webster’s Dictionary

According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, a reasonable accommodation is something done to accommodate a disabled person that does not jeopardize safety or pose an undue hardship for the party (as an employer or landlord) doing it.[14]  

The undue hardship exception

Whenever an accommodation poses a significant burden, the employer is not obligated to provide it[15].  Different factors are considered, such as, size of the business, financial resources, and/or impact on the business’s normal operation[16].


When is an employer required to provide reasonable accommodation upon an employee’s return to work from workers’ compensation or short-term non-occupational disability?

While SIF and SINOT are temporary disability programs, it is reasonable to infer that medical conditions or injuries necessitating these leaves of absence may constitute short-term disabilities distinguishable from a disability protected by ADA and PR Act 44 that trigger the employer’s duty to accommodate.  However, there is a growing trend of employees requesting reasonable accommodations upon returning to work after utilizing these leave programs.

It is worth noting that the SIF has the faculty to determine partial or total disability of the injured employee after completion of the medical treatment and the employee has the right to receive compensation based on the percentage of the disability that is granted. The compensation amounts to 66 2/3 percent of the wages[17].  In the case of partial disability, compensation is paid for a number of weeks, whereas an employee with total disability will receive the compensation for life. This in itself implies an impairment. Aside from this, the SIF has demonstrated a pattern of incorporating job adjustment recommendations into its administrative or medical decisions, effectively placing an implicit burden on employers to consider implementing these recommendations. Similarly, private healthcare providers under SINOT may also issue such recommendations.

Thus, even if a medical condition – at face value – does not seem to be a qualified impairment under the ADA or PR Act 44 and the SIF’s recommendations are consistent with this assessment, Puerto Rico employers are faced with the predicament of having to evaluate every request for accommodation made by an employee. This responsibility is particularly relevant considering the simpler standard set by the ADAAA regarding the term disability and how such a disability affects major life activities.

It is important to note that the US Department of Labor has clarified that a health condition need not be long-term to be considered protected[18]. In addition, a federal district court case, for the District of Puerto Rico, highlighted that extending a SIF leave beyond the reserve of employment period could be considered a reasonable accommodation that the employer should consider, especially where the additional leave requested is not expected to be prolonged or perpetual[19].

Moreover, employers must not lose sight of the statutory right of eligible non-exempt employees to request temporary changes in work schedules or locations, as an accommodation for health-related or non-health-related legitimate reasons under Puerto Rico law. Employers must consider the request and respond within a period of time.  The employer’s response may approve or deny the request made by the employee, but a denial must indicate the legitimate business reasons for not granting the request[20].



When an employee requests an accommodation, out of an abundance of caution, the employer is encouraged to engage in the interactive process to determine whether the employee qualifies as a disabled individual and whether there is a duty to accommodate. The challenge lies in properly evaluating the employee’s medical condition to assess whether it has become an impairment protected by disability discrimination laws.




Bianca Perez-Lugo assisted in the preparation of this article.



[1]  The applicability of a few of them depend on the employer’s size and certain eligibility requirements.

[2]  Paternity leave is not regulated in the private sector in Puerto Rico.

[3]  Some exceptions exist, seeing as only four states rely on entirely state-run programs for workers’ compensation: North Dakota, Ohio, Washington, and Wyoming. These four states are referred to as monopolistic states as they require their employers to purchase workers’ compensation from a government-operated fund. Workers’ Compensation Law – State by State Comparison (archive.org); Workers’ Compensation Insurance in Monopolistic States (thebalancemoney.com)

[4] “Occupational Accident Compensation Act”, Act No. 45 of April 18, 1935, as amended11 L.P.R.A. § 1 et. seq.

[5]  Other statutory non-occupational short-term disability leaves of absence exists, such as (1) the Automobile Accident Social Protection Act, Act No. 138 0f June 26, 1968, as amended, known by its Spanish acronym as “ACAA”, applicable to non-occupational automobile accidents.  The reserve of employment is six months or 180 days; and (2) the Social Security for Chauffeurs Act, Act No. 428 of May 15, 1950, that applies to non-exempt employees who must drive a motor vehicle (finger lifts included) to perform job duties.  The purpose is to provide (i) illness and disability benefits, (ii) a bonus after reaching the age of 65, and (iii) compensation to surviving spouses and children under 15 years of age, in the event of the death of the insured.  The reserve of employment is 12 months or 360 days.  The illness, disability or death need not be work-related. If the employee is covered by this insurance, SINOT coverage is not required. On the other hand, if the employee is compensated under the SIF, the Social Security for Chauffeurs monetary benefit does not apply unless the compensation is less than what the worker would receive under the Chauffeurs’ Insurance Fund, the difference will be paid by the Chauffeurs’ Insurance Fund. 29 L.P.R.A. §§ 681 – 695.  The employee is entitled to the same remedies provided by SIF and SINOT in the event of a refusal to reinstate upon returning from these leaves.

[6] Act No. 139 of June 26, 1968, as amended.

[7] Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101-336, 104 Stat. 328 (1990).

[8] Puerto Rico Act No. 44 of July 2,1985, as amended (PR Act 44). This statute mirrors ADA.

[9] E.g., walking, talking, seeing, hearing, or learning, or operation of a major bodily function, such as brain, musculoskeletal, respiratory, circulatory, or endocrine function. Americans with Disabilities Act, § 2(a) (42 U.S.C. 12101) (1990).

[10]  ADA, Rehabilitation Act, 29 CFR Part 1630, 29 CFR Part 1614

[11]    United States Department of Labor, Reasonable Accommodations for Employees and Applicants with Disabilities | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov), Accommodations | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov); United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division Introduction to the Americans with Disabilities Act | ADA.gov, Employees & Job Applicants | U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (eeoc.gov).

[12]   Americans with Disabilities Act, § 2(a) (42 U.S.C. 12101) (1990).

[13] Nicole Maestas, Kathleen J. Mullen, Stephanie Rennane, Unmet Need for Workplace Accommodation WILEYONLINELIBRARY, (16 may 2019), https://doi.org/10.1002/pam.22148, (Last visit: June 21, 2024.)

[14] Reasonable accommodation Definition & Meaning | Merriam-Webster Legal.

[15]   ADA, Rehabilitation Act, 29 CFR Part 1630, 29 CFR Part 1614

[16]  The ADA: Your Responsibilities as an Employer | U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (eeoc.gov)

[17]  Act No. 45 of 18 April 1935, as amended.

[18]  Disability Discrimination and Employment Decisions | U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (eeoc.gov); Reasonable Accommodations for Employees and Applicants with Disabilities | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov) 

[19] Criado v. IBM Corp., 145 F.3d 437; Edwin R. García Díaz, Demandante y Recurrente v. Darex Puerto Rico, Inc.; W.R. Grace & Company, Demandado y Recurridos, 148 D.P.R. 364; Pérez Rosario v. Aut. de Acueductos y Alcantarillados de P.R., 2022 PR App. LEXIS 1787.

[20] Article 8 of Act No. 379 of May 15, 1948.

Nikos Buxeda, Managing Partner, Miriam Figueroa, Deputy Managing Partner

1) What do you see as the main points that differentiate DLA Piper from your competitors?

DLA Piper is the only full-service international law firm with an office in Puerto Rico.  As a result, we are uniquely positioned to assist US and international businesses with their investments in Puerto Rico, and to assist Puerto Rico-based businesses interested in expanding their business to other jurisdictions.

In addition, DLA Piper’s 4,000 attorneys in 90 offices, its investment in information technology and its enormous database of documents give us access to a wealth of knowledge, experience and resources which is unique in Puerto Rico.

The great majority of our attorneys have undergraduate or graduate degrees from US universities, and several are New York law qualified and have practiced in New York and other international offices.  The bicultural, bilingual and dual legal system experience of our attorneys is a particular asset for transactions in Latin America under New York law, and for Latin American investors doing business in the United States.

DLA Piper is institutionally committed to merit-based hiring and diversity and inclusion.  As a result, 5 of the 8 partners of the Puerto Rico office are women, and several have both local and regional leadership positions.

Finally, DLA Piper is also institutionally committed to pro bono initiatives, and in the past several years our office has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and legal services to multiple pro bono and cultural causes, ranging from education to community projects to the arts.


2) Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

A combination of factors beginning in the mid-1990s resulted in a long recession which began around 2006 and eventually led the Puerto Rico Government to default on its bonds.  This in turn led to a contraction in both private and public construction and infrastructure projects and lack of maintenance of existing infrastructure. This contraction and the crisis in government finances also trickled down to the local economy, unemployment increased, and migration reduced our population.  In response, the U.S. Government approved a quasi-bankruptcy law for the local government and its instrumentalities; and appointed a fiscal board which is responsible for approving Puerto Rico’s budgets and representing Puerto Rico in the quasi-bankruptcy proceedings.  The fiscal board has restructured the Puerto Rico central government debt.  In addition, Hurricane Maria (although devastating in the short term) resulted in the U.S. Government committing many billions of dollars to reconstruction of infrastructure projects (and specifically for upgrades to the electric grid, water systems, housing and roads).  Finally, the end of the COVID pandemic has resulted in a large increase in tourism. Many Puerto Ricans that had migrated are returning to the island.

The combination of pent-up demand for housing, the need for upgrades to existing infrastructure (such as ports and roads), federal funds for infrastructure projects, the stabilization of government finances and an increase in tourism has already resulted in multiple residential housing, hotel, marina, road, ports, electric grid, electric generation (including renewables and natural gas projects), and other infrastructure projects, and we expect that trend to continue.  Furthermore, the lack of available capital has made Puerto Rico a leader in public-private partnership projects, and we expect that trend to continue as well.


3) What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?

The Puerto Rico office opened in 2016 as a tax and corporate boutique.  We have since added litigation and regulatory, environmental and permitting, labor and employment and white collar and corporate investigation practices.  This growth has responded to client demand for a full suite of high-level business law services.  We also continually strive to integrate our office to the broader DLA Piper platform.


4) Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

The trend to 24-hour availability of legal counsel was sped up by the COVID pandemic.  Our office was fortunate that DLA Piper had made the necessary investments in IT infrastructure and training, so we were able to move to a remote work environment immediately and smoothly.  We have access to our communications and IT systems from our home, from our cars, from anywhere that there is a cell phone signal.  Although this can be beneficial to clients sometimes, it places stress on our human resources and can lead to work product and decision-making that represents client’s request for expeditious advice and less detail. It is a challenge that requires educating the client on the implications of their priorities, but ultimately, it is the client’s decision.  Navigating this new environment is a work in progress for both law firms and their clients.

DLA Piper also has a market leading artificial intelligence practice, which includes the development and implementation of AI solutions/applications. This is not only a cutting-edge practice on a global level but something that clearly distinguishes us from other firms doing business in Puerto Rico.  We are already working with big clients in Puerto Rico, implementing remarkable AI solutions to their legal and business needs, not only in English, but in Spanish and across industries.


5) Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?

We have clients that, through our geographic network and expertise in practice areas, have been able to expand their businesses outside the island because they have found in us (i) the knowledge and resources to advise them regarding the legal landscape in North and South America, and (ii) the business connections outside of Puerto Rico.  We also identify potential business opportunities in and outside Puerto Rico, both to our local clients and to other DLA clients world-wide regarding opportunities in Puerto Rico. Finally, through our alliance with consulting firms like The Cohen Group, our clients have available intelligence and support with respect to political, economic and strategic needs to navigate the realities in the Region.


6) Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?

Clients are looking for creative solutions to their problems, responsiveness and high-quality work product.  Stability comes from the ability to meet these standards, not the other way around.  We are confident that we can continue to meet our client’s needs, and as a result our office will be well-positioned in the local market for years to come.