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Central America 2016: Private Client

With 28 lawyers from 11 different firms highlighted in our research, private client is a prominent practice area in Central America. Experts are located across five countries, reflecting the strong provision of private client legal services across the region. 

Panama has the most prominent private client market in the region, having successfully developed a competitive offshore financial service sector, with the exemption of taxes for offshore companies incorporated in Panama, coupled with stringent confidentiality laws to ensure corporate and individual financial discretion. Panama has no tax treaties and as a result the exchange of tax related information with other countries is not possible. This in turn is driving demand for private client legal services here. Guatemala also features highly in our research as the country’s secrecy laws, tax incentives and relaxed banking regulations are well known. Costa Rica and Belize follow closely behind, and likewise impose tax on a jurisdictional basis making them attractive locations companies and individuals looking for private client services.

The legal market is dominated by the regional giant Latemlex; a collation of six national law firms from across Central America. It is home to an impressive eight lawyers listed in our research from across three different counties, demonstrating its market dominance through the area.

Belize

Rishi Mungal is the head legal counsel for Morgan & Morgan’s trust corporation in Belize. He receives praise for his “excellent knowledge of trust law” and his “dedicated, friendly approach”.

Costa Rica

Gómez y Galindo – LatamLex Costa Rica is home to three impressive individuals. Founding partner Mario Gómez Pacheco has a “fantastically sharp mind and is extremely effective”, and impresses clients with his willingness to “always go the extra mile” for them. Daniel Guillen Jimenez  is well known for advising local and foreign clients on a range of their most complex estate planning matters. Alongside them, Adriana Ramos Chavez is known internationally for her “top-notch” advice to major clients in the development of their estate planning structures.

Guatemala

Arenales & Skinner-Klée – LatamLex Guatemala garners four listings in this chapter. Rodolfo Estuardo Salazar Paniagua is “a star” with a strong reputation for handling all manner of matters relating to trust law. Alfredo Skinner-Klée has been described as a “font of knowledge”. Observers particularly praise his “commercial acumen” in relation to estate planning.  Ana Verena Kuhsiek Ruiz boasts “invaluable experience”, with peers praising the “impressive scope” of her practice. She counsels leading clients on a range of private client matters including, wills, estate planning structures and the planning and preparing of protocols and family agreements. Alejandro Arenales Farner is considered to be “among the most experienced specialists” in private client law and receives particular recognition in our research for having an “innovative way of looking at things that delivers a fresh approach” to clients’ business needs.

At Bufete Olivero, Stefano Carlo Olivero is also a noted specialist in private client and tax law.

Nicaragua

Two “outstanding” individuals are identified from Latamlex Nicaragua. Ana Patricia Carrion Lacayo and Alvaro Caldera Portocarrero are known as “key players”. They come highly recommended for their “strong knowledge of tax and estate planning law”.

Panama

Two firms have three lawyers recognised for their major work in this area of law. Mossack Fonseca is home to Jurgen Mossack, co-founder of the firm and “internationally renowned” for his “prominent practice”. Egbert Wetherborne is considered a “bona fide expert” on a wide variety of matters pertaining to private client law and is “highly sought after” by clients. Edison Teano is an “impressively diligent professional” and a “well-known name in the market”.

López Villanueva & Heurtematte boasts Patricia Isabel Villanueva Martinelli, who has a “superb reputation” in the market. She provides legal advice to local and international companies concerning their private foundations, trusts and wills, among other private client matters. Isabel Cristina Lopez Serrano receives “wide acclaim” in the market, with clients saying they are most impressed with her “skill and dedication”. Alongside them the “excellent” Elizabeth Heurtematte Kochman advises clients regarding the protection of heritage, private foundations, trusts, wills, bequests and other fiduciary issues.

From Alemán Cordero Galindo & Lee, Raúl Zuñiga Brid is head of department and described as “a go-to expert” by respondents for his trust and estate planning practice. Anibal Galindo is a “notable talent in the market”. She focuses on representing individuals, families, privately owned companies and charitable organisations, in relation to worldwide trusts and estates in Panama and abroad.

Morgan & Morgan’s Luis Manzanares receives praise for being an “insightful adviser”. He is known in the market to be "charismatic and great with clients", with particular expertise relating to private interest foundations. Eduardo Morgan is “extremely knowledgeable” with more than 15 years in the trust and fiduciary industry.

From Quijano & Associates, Julio Quijano’s highly regarded practice includes the provision of custody and depository agency services as well as creating structures for the protection of assets. Alongside him Irma Herrera Lee is “a certain inclusion” for her offshore and corporate administration practice.

Roberto Alemán at Icaza González-Ruiz Alemán receives praise for his “exceptional abilities” and “versatile thinking” in relation to complex offshore matters. Michelle de de la Guardia “very skilfully” advises a wide range of high-profile clients in relation to Panama trusts.

From Fábrega Molino & Mulino, the “brilliant” Gretel Ciniglio de Perez counsels clients in relation to asset planning and management and the structuring and management of trusts.

Head of the estate, trust and private foundation practice LeRoy Watson at Arias Fábrega & Fábrega is described as a “thoroughbred expert” whom clients value for his “consistently dependable advice”.

Ramses Owens from Owens & Watson is known for his “fantastic work ethic”. His particular strength lies in structuring trusts for asset protection, as well as estate and inheritance planning.

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