Central America 2016 – GC Powerlist

Central America 2016

  • Industries

  • Powerlist

Adelaida Adames

Legal director (Dominican Republic & Caribbean Markets) | Philip Morris International

As the legal director for leading tobacco company, Philip Morris International (PMI), Adelaida Adames is in charge of all legal projects related to international law, corporate governance and negotiations. PMI’s...

Adriana Alvins

Corporate and legal affairs director | Kimberly-Clark

Adriana Alvins spent the majority of her legal career working in Venezuela, before moving to Costa Rica in 2014 to head Kimberly-Clark’s legal department for Central America and the Caribbean....

Adviel Centeno

General counsel and secretary | The AES Corporation

Adviel Centeno is currently general counsel and secretary at AES Panama and AES Changuilnola, the most important electricity generators in Panama, operating six plants in different areas of the country....

Agenor Correa

Manager of legal services for the expansion program | Panama Canal Authority

The team that oversees the legal affairs for the expansion of the Panama Canal is headed by Agenor Correa, a legal professional with experience of over 19 years in the...

Alejandra Bermúdez

General counsel | Enel Green Power Guatemala

Expert energy in-house lawyer Alejandra Bermúdez has experience in business and energy law and high levels of knowledge in regulated sectors. She handles all legal work, social impact assessments and...

Alejandra Castro

Head of Legal, patents and compliance | Bayer

Alejandra Castro leads a team of people that focus on trademarks, patents, copyright, computer law, biotechnology, medical records and intellectual property litigation. With over 18 years of pharmaceutical law experience,...

Alejandro Nájera

Regional general counsel | Bayer

An intelligent in-house lawyer with a talent for innovation, Alejandro Nájera started his career as an advisor to a financial corporation in Guatemala and was initially appointed to formalise financial...

Alejandro Royo

General counsel | KIO Networks

Over the course of his legal career of more than 13 years, Alejandro Royo has demonstrated a formidable knowledge and expertise in handling local and international legal matters across Latin...

Alfonso Videche

Legal and regulatory director | Colgate-Palmolive

A worldwide consumer products company that specialises in the production, distribution and provision of a wide range of household, health care and personal products, Colgate-Palmolive serves people in over 200...

Alfredo Apestegui

General counsel | Mesoamerica

Alfredo Apestegui is currently chief legal officer for Mesoamerica, a leading firm in private equity investments in Latin America. He currently leads all legal, tax and compliance matters involving the...

Ana Maria Bonilla

Head of legal | Banco General


A highly-skilled financial in-house lawyer, Ana Maria Bonilla has spent her entire legal career in the banking sector. With deep experience in Latin American legal frameworks in Mexico, Brazil, Costa...

Angel Alfonso Molina

General counsel | Baxter México, Central America, Caribbean and Venezuela

Having been involved in a plethora of activities from managing the legal department’s annual budget to guiding the career development of its members, Angel Molina was given the role of...

Annelise Valdes

Legal director and director of the Center for Conciliation and Arbitration | Digicel

Digicel is a mobile phone network provider that does business in over 33 markets and serves 14 million customers across the Caribbean, Central America and Asia Pacific. An expert with...

Arelí Mojica Quintero

Manager of Legal and Reputational Risk | Multibank


As manager of legal and reputational risk at Multibank, Arelí Mojica Quintero is responsible for creating and implementing the regulations in line with legal risk management procedures and policies. Multibank...

Beatriz Beltranena

Legal director | Amzak Capital Management

El Salvador-based Beatriz Beltranena is legal director and general counsel at asset manager and private equity investor Amzak Capital Management, where she is responsible for overseeing the firm’s portfolio of...

Belisario Castillo

Legal vice president | Banvivienda

Described by his co-workers as both a ‘loyal and innovative employee’ and an ‘inspiring person to work with’, Belisario Castillo runs the legal department of Banvivienda, a Panamanian bank with...

Berioska Languasco

Legal Manager (Central American and Caribbean) | Confederación Patronal de la República Dominicana (COPARDOM)

For the last eight years Berioska Languasco has served as manager legal unit of the Employers’ Confederation of the Dominican Republic (Confederación Patronal de la República Dominicana, or COPARDOM), business...

Carlos Atiles

Director of legal affairs | B&R Shipping and Trade

In 2014, Carlos Atiles joined Agencias Navieras B&R, a company that acts as commercial and port agents for shipping lines, providing stevedoring services around the world. His current position at...

Carlos Villalobos

Regional legal director (Central America and Dominican Republic) | Grupo Roble

Carlos Villalobos is leading figure at the Latin American real estate company Grupo Roble, and is in charge of a variety of matters across several categories such as real estate,...

Christopher Cook

Vice president and general counsel | Walmart Central America

Christopher Cook is a highly distinguished lawyer with 25 years of experience in the private sector and government in the United States. Prior to making his move in-house in 2014,...

Claudia Jañez

Legal director and compliance officer | DuPont

Claudia Jañez was appointed president and general manager of DuPont Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean in 2015. She continues to serve as the region’s government affairs director, a role...

Claudia Prado

General counsel | Banco de América Central


With operations across Central America, Nicaragua-based Banco de América Central (BAC) is one of the region’s major financial institutions. Legal manager Claudia Prado is recognised for her ‘wide-ranging knowledge of...

Cristina Alfaro

General counsel and country compliance head | Citibank Costa Rica


Cristina Alfaro, general counsel and country compliance head at Citibank Costa Rica, has extensive experience in corporate law, banking law, compliance, and regulatory matters. Described as ‘strongly self-motivated and results...

Daniel Muñoz

Legal director | Enel Latin America

Daniel Muñoz Jiménez boasts substantial expertise in providing assistance on key development projects across Latin America, and has become recognised in the Central American market for his expertise in corporate...

Daniel Pérez

Legal director | BAC Credomatic

Daniel Pérez currently oversees a team of 90 employees in his role as general counsel at BAC Credomatic, the leading Central American financial institution, and coordinates internal and external legal...

Diana Leiva

General counsel | Techint Group

Diana Leiva is a highly-rated legal professional with over two decades of experience providing legal advice to multinational companies across Latin and Central America. Described as a ‘detail-oriented professional’ and...

Dionisio Machuca

General counsel (North and Central America area and Colombia) | Banco Agrícola


Since 2014 Dionisio Ismael Machuca Massis has worked for two of Bancolombia Group’s subsidiaries in El Salvador in the dual role of vice president (legal) and secretary for Banco Agricola...

Dorys Mejia

Legal director | IKEA Santo Domingo

With a total of 14 years’ experience, split across private practice and in-house roles, Dorys Mejia’s knowledge allows her to overcome many of the challenges typically faced by corporate counsel....

Eduardo Alberto Segura

Legal manager | Panama Maritime Authority

At the heart of legal operations of the world famous Panama Canal, Eduardo Alberto Segura is a distinguished expert in maritime law. Given his 18 year experience of maritime law,...

Edward Barett

Legal director | Superintendencia de Electricidad y Combustibles

Edward Barett is the legal director at the Dominican Superintendencia de Electricidad y Combustibles, a public sector institution tasked with monitoring the proper operation of the electricity, gas and safety...

Elizabeth Mena

General counsel | Corporación Minera Dominicana

Elizabeth Mena is legal counsel at Corporación Minera Dominicana (Cormidom), a subsidiary of Australian mining concern Perilya that operates medium scale open-pit mines across the Dominican Republic. The majority of...

Enric Gonzalez

Regional legal manager | Interplus Panamá

Following the completion of his education from the University of Barcelona, Enric Gonzalez started his legal career in Spain by setting up his own private practice, where he served as...

Erick Spears

Anti-piracy director | Cámara de Comercio e Industrias de Cortés

Erick Spears leads the legal function at Honduran free-trade promotion body Cámara de Comercio e Industrias de Cortés (CCIC). He has extensive knowledge of administrative law, labour law, civil and...

Ernesto Carrasco

Legal director | Banco Ficohsa


Ernesto Alfonso Carrasco joined Honduran financial holding Grupo Financiero Ficohsa in 2000 as deputy manager, and in 2006 assumed his role as legal director for the group’s banking arm, Banco...

Ernesto Grijalva

Partner, corporate vice president and director of legal department | Pricesmart

As senior vice president for legal affairs at PriceSmart, the largest operator of membership warehouse clubs in Central America and the Caribbean, since 1998, Ernesto Grijalva has provided support to...

Favio Luciano Flores

Director of legal affairs (Latin America) | Grupo Financiero Ficohsa

Favio Luciano Flores oversees the validation department at Grupo Financiero Ficohsa, Honduras’ top financial group. The department conducts legal and risk checks across the group, covering banking, credit and insurance....

Gabriela Bogantes

Legal affairs director | Pfizer Central America & Caribbean

Formerly a private practice lawyer at law firm Gonzalez & Uribe, Gabriela Bogantes is now a widely recognised figure in the Costa Rican in-house market. Bogantes, currently Pfizer’s Central American...

Giselle Marie Leger

Manager of legal unit | AES Dominicana

Giselle Marie Leger joined AES in 2001 as a legal counsel and in 2014 was promoted to general counsel. In this role Marie Leger is the leader on the legal...

Gloria Rodriguez

Legal manager | Walmart México y Centroámerica

Gloria Rodriguez was hired by Walmart in 2008 to support its emerging legal department in Guatemala. In her current role at the global retail company, Rodriguez performs legal affairs management...

Hector Dotel

Legal manager | Metro Group

Hector Dotel moved to Metro Group in 2007, where he currently serves as the legal director in the Dominican Republic. In addition to managing the legal department of Metro Group,...

Ivan Rojas

Legal and regulatory counsel | 3M Central America

A telecoms and media lawyer by training, Ivan Rojas joined multinational engineering group 3M in 2010. He was appointed general counsel (GC) for Venezuela in 2012 and became GC of...

Ivette Lorena Franco

Validation assistant manager/General counsel | Copa Airlines

Ivette Lorena Franco has been the director of legal advice for Copa Airlines (Copa) for the last 17 years. As Panama’s flag carrier airline, Copa sets high expectations for its...

Jennifer Alvarez

Legal manager | ARS PALIC

Jennifer Alvarez boasts over 10 years of experience in the insurance and social security sector and has been the head of legal at health insurer ARS Palic for the last...

Jocelyne Sanchez

Legal director | Banco Popular Dominicano


Jocelyne Sanchez, head of legal at Banco Popularo Dominicano, has acquired expertise in civil law, labour, commercial, banking and foreign investment and moulded herself into a distinguished in-house lawyer. At...

Jorge de los Ríos

General counsel and business integrity officer (Central America and Andean Region) | Unilever

Unilever’s presence across Central America and the Caribbean covers Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad & Tobago. Jorge De Los Ríos, general...

Jorge Luis Real

Vice president of legal risk and secretary | Banco Latinoamericano de Comercio Exterior, S.A. (Bladex)


Jorge Luis Real has spent the last 16 years working for three top multinational banking institutions across both Panama and the United States, accumulating unrivalled expertise in investment and corporate...

Jorge Pérez

Legal affairs manager | Major League Baseball

Jorge Pérez became the legal director for Major League Baseball (MLB) in March 2016, managing legal affairs for the company across the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Venezuela, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti...

Jose Antonio Polanco

Head of legal and compliance (Latin America) | Empresas Adoc

Founded by Don Roberto Palomo in 1953, Empresas Adoc is a leading Central American shoe manufacturing group headquartered in El Salvador. It has undergone significant expansion in the region recently....

Jose David Zuniga

Vice president of legal department and corporate secretary | CEFA, Central Farmacéutica

CEFA is a Costa Rican distributor of pharmaceutical and healthcare products, including drugs and nutritional products, as well as food and photocopy machines. Jose David Zuniga has been in charge...

Jose María Etchegaray

Manager of corporate affairs | SBA Communications

Jose María Etchegaray manages the internal and external legal resources of SBA Communications, an owner and operator of wireless infrastructure for communications companies, for the entire Latin America region, with...

Jose Miguel Arellano

Executive director of legal affairs and corporate relations | Avon

For the last 11 years Jose Miguel Arellano has been the legal mind behind Avon’s major transactions in the Mexico City region. In this role his daily input encompasses establishing...

José Ricardo Sánchez

General counsel | Banco Davivienda


Banco Davivienda is a Colombian bank, founded in 1972, that provides a range of services to individuals and companies across Panama, Miami, Honduras, Costa Rica and El Salvador. The bank...

Juan Carlos Rodríguez

Legal manager | Tigo

Juan Carlos Rodríguez leads a small team of two at Tigo Costa Rica, the operating brand name of Millicom. In a country where the private telecoms market is still developing,...

Juan Carlos Rojas

Legal affairs manager | Dole Fresh

Juan Carlos Rojas is one of the most experienced corporate counsel in Costa Rica and has vast experience in complex transactions such as mergers, acquisitions, commercial contracts, real estate and...

Juan Francisco Alfaro del Cid

Head of legal | Unopetrol Guatemala

A Royal Dutch Shell licensee and subsidiary of Grupo Terra, Unopetrol Guatemala is a leading fuel distributor in Central America. The company’s legal head, Juan Francisco Alfaro Del Cid, deals...

Juan Héctor Castro

Compliance officer | Credicomer

Juan Héctor Castro is a Salvadoran legal and compliance expert with substantial experience across different branches of the law, as well as expertise in corporate governance and risk management. Currently...

Juan Rablo Restrepo

Regional Legal Counsel (Central America and the Caribbean) | Mondelēz International

Mondelēz, the world’s second largest food company, has set an ambitious target to develop a completely sustainable global cocoa supply chain by 2020. A big focus of this Cocoa Life...

Julieta Rodriguez Molina

Legal counsel | FPB Bank


Julieta Rodriguez Molina is a lawyer with extensive experience in corporate, commercial, labour and antitrust law, as well as professional recognition in corporate governance. Described by a source as an...

Julio Reyes

Manager of legal and reputational risk | Banco de la Producción


Julio Reyes first encountered Banco de la Produccion (BANPRO) in 2000 when he was hired by the board in charge of liquidating the assets from Banco Intercontinental and assisted its...

Kadine Hurtado

Legal director | adidas Latin America

Panama-based Kadine Hurtado, legal director and compliance officer for adidas Latin America, plays a central role in helping the company produce and sell its products in a region where environmental...

Karina Castillo

Legal director | Scotiabank


Since 2004, Karina Castillo has developed the legal department at Scotiabank in the Dominican Republic from scratch, and eventually established a function of 12 people to provide services to a...

Karla Gross

Regional Legal Director for the Greater Caribbean and Latin American Division Compliance Specialist | Colgate-Palmolive

Described by sources as an ‘effective communicator’ and a leader with a ‘resilient personality’, Karla Gross is currently the legal director for the greater Caribbean region at Colgate-Palmolive, a global...

Laura Castañeda

Corporate legal manager | Cementos Progreso

Distinguished legal manager Laura Castañeda has impressed peers and clients by leading a number of strategic projects in the market and has won recognition in the Latin American press for...

Luis Antonio Herrera

Director of legal services | Cerveceria Nacional

As the legal director for compliance and ethics at Cervecería Nacional, Luis Antonio Herrera aims to create and develop the legal structures and sustainability initiatives for the beer and soft...

Luis Enrique Gomez

Director of legal advice | Del Monte Fresh Produce Group

Del Monte Fresh is a global producer, marketer and distributor of fresh, fresh-cut and prepared fruit and vegetables globally. The company’s legal team has been an important element and a...

Luis Pedro Jegerlehner

Head of legal / legal manager, Central America and the Caribbean | PepsiCo

Food, beverages and tobacco

Guatemala-based Luis Pedro Jegerlehner is legal manager for PepsiCo in Central America and the Caribbean. He runs a small team of two lawyers with one additional counsel in the Dominican...

Manuel Aizpurua

Legal manager | Minera Panamá

Minera Panamá, formerly owned by Inmet Mining Corporation and a current subsidiary of First Quantum Minerals, holds the rights to exploit mineral resources in the District of Donoso, Colon Province...

Manuel Roberto Sisniega

General counsel | Tigo

Praised by for his expertise in corporate law and arbitration, as well as his skills in generating business strategies, leading teams and managing conflicts, Manuel Roberto Sisniega García has been...

Manuel Salas

Executive legal director | Cuestamoras

Manuel Salas joined Cuestamoras in 2014 as corporate legal manager. Just two years later he was promoted to corporate legal director and general counsel. In his new position, Salas leads...

Maria Charris

Legal manager | Grupo Rey

Maria Charris is a lawyer with more than 15 years of professional experience, who has held managerial positions in both national and international companies. A results-oriented expert with strong project...

Maria Cristina Vila de Van Hoorde

Director of Corporate and Legal Affairs | Banistmo

As vice president of the legal department and corporate secretary of Banistmo, the largest bank in Panama and Central America, Maria Christina Vila de Van Hoorde oversees a highly-rated team...

María Pía Logiovane

General legal advisor | Philips Latin America

Based in Panama, María Pía Logiovane currently heads the legal and compliance function for the Latin American division of Philips, a leading multinational technology company headquartered in the Netherlands. As...

Marie Claire Palacios

Legal manager | Americas Media Services

Marie Claire Palacios leads all legal matters related to Latin American territories at Guatemala-based Americas Media Services, overseeing all operations, subsidiaries and affiliates of the company and reporting directly to...

Mariel Picado

General counsel | Florida Ice & Farm Company (FIFCO)

Having successfully worked in the public sector, Mariel Picado transitioned into a role at Florida Ice and Farm Company (FIFCO), adapting to the commercial needs of the private sector with...

Marielle Gómez

Legal director and corporate relations director | Nestlé Dominicana

Nestlé, the largest food company in the world measured by revenue, has had a presence in the Dominican Republic for over a century. With a long-standing track record of contributing...

Mario Martínez

Legal director | Grupo Roble

Mario Martínez is legal director at Grupo Roble, the real estate division of Grupo Poma, a prominent El Salvador-based conglomerate. He has worked for the Poma Group for nearly 40...

Marysabela Maldonado

Legal vice president and secretary | Grupo Terra

Marysabela Maldonado currently serves as legal director and secretary of Grupo Terra, a Honduras-based conglomerate established in 1978 and one of the leaders in Central America’s oil and gas market....

Michael Bruce

Legal manager | Procter & Gamble

Michael Bruce joined Procter & Gamble as legal manager in 2013. Working out of the company’s Costa Rica-based regional headquarters, Bruce arrived just as the company was increasing its presence...

Michelle Canelo

Legal manager | Cargill

Honduras-based Michelle Canelo is responsible for all legal affairs (with the exception of tax) across Central America at global food, agriculture, financial and industrial product provider Cargill. In addition to...

Mónica Muñoz

Head of legal department | DHL Express Central America

Mónica Muñoz, DHL Express’ regional legal counsel for Central America & Dominican Republic, supports the business operations with the support of one paralegal and closely chosen external firms. With her...

Nidia Pérez

General counsel | Grupo Agrisal

Grupo Agrisal is a Salvadoran conglomerate with a primary focus to develop and operate hotels and commercial real estate projects in Central and South America. In El Salvador, Grupo Agrisal...

Olga Morel

Legal vice president | Central Bank of the Dominican Republic


Over the course of the last 26 years, Olga Morel De Reyes has held various positions within the structure of the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic and has served...

Omar Bairan

Legal vice president | Banco Dominicano del Progreso


For the past seven years, Omar Bairan has been legal vice president of leading Dominican bank Banco Domincano del Progreso. Among the leading financial services counsel in Central America, he...

Orlando Zuniga

Legal manager | Banco Industrial


As head of legal at El Salvador based Banco Industrial since 2013, Orlando Zuniga provides legal counsel on issues related to commercial, civil and banking law, whilst also monitoring regulatory...

Oscar Arroyo

Legal director | Central American Bottling Corporation (CBC)

A figure that is widely praised for his labour contract negotiation work in Guatemala, having previously represented various multinational and local companies, Oscar Arroyo is a lawyer with over 20...

Oscar Montes

Legal director | Integra Group

Oscar Alejandro Montes Mayorga is a Nicaragua-based vice president of legal at the Guatemala-headquartered consortium Integra Group Centroamerica, which specialises in energy investments, as well as agro-industrial, manufacturing and insurance...

Patricio Reyes

Chief counsel (Central America, Caribbean and Andean Countries) | Banco de Reservas


Patricio Reyes is the legal manager at Banco de Reservas, a leading bank in the Dominican financial system and a driving force for social welfare in the country. For the...

Ricardo Hernández

Regional legal director (greater Caribbean Region and Latin America) division compliance director | Bolsa Nacional de Valores de Costa Rica (National Stock Exchange of Costa Rica)

In charge of the legal department of the National Stock Exchange of Costa Rica, Ricardo Hernández Lopez has made a valuable contribution to the modernisation and efficiency improvements of financial...

Roberto Batres

Head of legal | AmBev Centroamérica

Roberto Batres, the legal manager at Ambev Centroamérica, has overseen a rapid evolution of the Guatemala-based team. Over the past eight years, the department has grown from a one-person function,...

Rodrigo Hidalgo

Legal director, compliance and ethics | Consejo Nacional de Supervisión del Sistema Financiero

Since 2010, Rodrigo Hidalgo Pacheco has been legal director at Consejo Nacional de Supervisión del Sistema Financiero (CONASSIF), which is Costa Rica’s national council of financial system supervision. Under this...

Ronald Ramírez

Legal manager | Hewlett-Packard Enterprises

Ronald Ramírez joined Hewlett-Packard Costa Rica as general counsel in 2008, and from 2012 served as general counsel for Central America and the Caribbean. After the company split into HP...

Salvador Del Valle

Legal manager | MultiEnergía

MultiEnergía, a division of the multinational agro-industrial corporation Corporación Multi Inversiones, was established with the aim of designing and building renewable energy projects in Guatemala. Salvador Del Valle currently oversees...

Sofia Escriba

Legal director | Minera San Rafael

Minera San Rafael was created for the exploration, construction and commissioning of the Escobal Silver Mine in Guatemala, which started operations in early 2004. When Sofia Escriba joined the company,...

Steven Alvarado

Associate general counsel and legal director (Latin America) | GlaxoSmithKline

Currently based in Costa Rica, Steven Alvarado oversees a team of 15 in his role of associate general counsel and legal director for Latin America at GlaxoSmithKline. Since joining the...

Susana Vásquez

Associate general counsel (Mexico and Central America) | Stein Corp

Based in Escazú, Costa Rica, Susana Vásquez is currently responsible for all legal advice, corporate affairs, compliance and both external and internal communications for the Central American region of Stein...

Tannia Corriols

Senior legal director | DHL

Tannia Corriols has been the senior legal director for DHL in Latin America since April 2008. She joined the company in 2004 as legal head for the Central America region....

Tony Roldan

General counsel | Dell

A highly dynamic legal counsel, capable of operating in diverse, multicultural environments, Tony Roldan boasts more than 20 years of experience overseeing legal processes and functions. Known for his abilities...

Valentina Moreno

Legal vice president | Cargill

Since assuming a role in the legal department at Cargill in 2004, Valentina Moreno has continuously assumed additional responsibilities. Last year she was given the responsibility of managing key suppliers...

Victor Trujillo

Head of legal | Emerson Electric

Victor Trujillo is described by one source as producing ‘excellent work, having a deep knowledge of intellectual property and being a joy to work with’. After 11 years in his...

Virginia Servent

Antipiracy Director | Fox Networks Group Latin America

Virginia Servent has established her name as a leading anti-piracy lawyer in the field and boasts a wealth of experience of intellectual property and related work across the Latin America...

For 29 years, The Legal 500 has been analysing the capabilities of law firms across the world. The GC Powerlist is the latest publication from The Legal 500, turning its attention to the in-house function, and recognising those corporate counsel who are driving the legal business forward. The latest edition is the GC Powerlist: Central America, which identifies an array of the most influential and innovative in-house counsel working in the region.

We have canvassed opinions from law firm partners and in-house counsel across Central America, to identify corporate counsel that have been instrumental in changing or forming opinions within their company or industry; developing brilliant technical solutions to complex issues; creating innovative structures to ensure that the in-house function is driving the business forward; or providing a business working model that other corporate counsel should follow. Our team of experienced researchers assessed the nominations, speaking both to general counsel and nominating lawyers to finalise each list. The GC Powerlist: Central America features not just information on why that individual has made the list, but also comment from those in-house lawyers about how they have helped shape innovation in the legal industry.

If you have feedback on the GC Powerlist: Central America, or wish to nominate other in-house individuals (either in Central America or global), please do get in touch at corporatecounsel@legal500.com.

We hope that this listing will stimulate debate around the role of the in-house lawyer and help corporate counsel with possible improvements and efficiencies in running their departments.

David Burgess

Publishing Director

Pacheco Coto

Pacheco Coto logo

It is indeed a great honour for all of us at Pacheco Coto to contribute with The Legal 500 and sponsor the GC Powerlist series, particularly considering that this is the first time the event focuses on Central America.

Since its foundation in 1939 in San José, Costa Rica, Pacheco Coto has witnessed the evolution of the Central American countries to more stable and open economies, better integrated markets, improved conditions for business, investment and trade and a better legal landscape. However, the region still has challenges to overcome. Harmonisation of rules, modernisation of legal systems, simplification of red tape, reinforcement of institutionality and of the rule of law, are amongst those mentioned more frequently by practitioners and investors.

From a GDP of around US$2bn and a population of around 12 million inhabitants in 1960, to a GDP of US$173.6bn and a population of 41.4 million inhabitants in 20151, from an agriculture based economy to a diversified business community, driven by added value services and more sophisticated manufacturing; from close and over-protective economies, to open and friendly economies, aggressively integrated in the global markets, the Central American region has become an attractive pole for foreign investment and expansion of intra-regional trade and investment. According to the Central American Monetary Council, foreign direct investment in Central America, between 2011 and 2014 amounted to US$22.9bn.

The legal market has not been the exception; it has become more competitive, more sophisticated and yet, more demanding. The emergence of regional law firms responds to both market and client needs. It is pretty common for companies to visualise the region as a single market and not asfive individual economies. While Pacheco Coto’s first international expansion was out of Central America, to Zurich back in 1972, since 2013 our firm has had a solid presence in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, with a team of outstanding and committed attorneys, up to par with the high standards set by multinational business. Pacheco Coto has an organisational structure that ensures the preservation of fundamental pillars of the firm’s philosophy throughout the region, such as quality, integrity, expertise,innovation, responsiveness, compromise and professional ethics.

To the expansion of economic activity and the emergence of new businesses Pacheco Coto has responded with innovation and creativity, opening practices in less traditional areas for full-service firms, but of tremendous value for our clients, such as environmental law, international trade and customs, aviation and shipping, antitrust and, in addition, we have also expanded our international asset planning and foreign investments practice groups further by setting up operations in Madrid, New Zealand and Hong Kong. These practice groups reinforce the traditionally recognised expertise of the firm in corporate and M&A, real estate and hospitality, banking and finance, administrative law and government procurement, energy and telecommunications, litigation and arbitration, intellectual property and tax.

Until a couple of decades ago, it was not common to have in-house counsel in companies conducting business in Central America. Those who held such positions were usually affiliates of US companies with a presence in the region. However, this has changed over time and in today’s reality, the role and duties of in-house counsel has become a very important part of the legal strategy, given the dynamics of the legal landscape and the demands of the global economy.

In fact, the scope of duties of in-house counsel have evolved beyond strict legal matters and often involves the assessment of business risks, corporate relations, governmental relations and requires familiarity with various areas of the law. They often play strategic roles vis-a-vis their boards, their CEOs and other senior executives. It has also become more common for companies to decide that core business legal work be handled internally, which sometimes results in companies having essentially a law firm within.

This evolution poses challenges to the role of outside counsel. It forces those of us on this side of the aisle to understand better the overall business of our corporate clients and, therefore, establish closer and stronger ties with in-house counsel. We shall become an ally and a valuable addition to our in-house colleagues and to the company, recognise our boundaries and be sensible to matters such as cost of services, different billing arrangements, availability, responsiveness, confidentiality policies, involvement in our client’s affairs, knowledge, constant interaction, good communication and team work.

At Pacheco Coto we strive to keep close and respectful relationships with our in-house counsel colleagues, and value the trust that they and their companies put on us to handle their legal matters.

I want to close by congratulating all of the marvellous professionals recognised by The Legal 500 GC Powerlist on this occasion, and commend The Legal 500 for this initiative.

GC Powerlist: Mexico 2023

The GC Powerlist event in Mexico City 2023 celebrated the remarkable GCs of Mexico, recognising their commitment, hard work, and innovative drive in the legal profession. In-depth interviews previously conducted by The Legal 500 revealed a strong GC focus on ESG, Diversity and Inclusion, and nearshoring. Furthermore, they highlighted how essential teamwork is for the legal departments to achieve the best outcomes.  The event took place at the Ritz Carlton, overlooking the stunning castle of Chapultepec.  GCs were awarded for their exceptional dedication to integrating strong ethical principles, fostering diversity, and implementing strategies within their organisations. The atmosphere at the GC Powerlist event was buzzing with lively discussions with passionate GCs engaged in dynamic conversations. The excitement was palpable as attendees shared their experiences, insights, and innovative approaches to the evolving legal landscape. The vibrant interactions and animated debates showcased the shared commitment of the GCs to push the boundaries of legal practice and adapt to the ever-changing demands of their roles.

Conversations flowed seamlessly, driven by dedication and eagerness to learn from one another. The diverse range of perspectives and the breadth of expertise in the room sparked intense discussions on critical topics, from ESG integration and diversity initiatives to the nuances of nearshoring strategies. The atmosphere was not only charged with intellectual fervor but also infused with a genuine desire to shape a more inclusive, sustainable, and efficient legal ecosystem.

A warm thank you to Creel, our sponsor, who made this brilliant event possible.