Icaza, González-Ruiz & Alemán
Strong offshore player with growing onshore strength
One of the oldest firms in this chapter, Icaza, González-Ruiz & Alemán’s impact on Panama has been significant. Over the years, its partners have helped create the country’s legal structure and a good number of them have been top judges and politicians. This close connection to the state carries through into the work that the firm does; it represents the government in contract negotiations and capital markets transactions, while the Panama Canal Authority is another client.
This respected firm has real clout in transactions and regulatory work, while offshore work continues to provide the bulk of its workload, which it handles from its nine offices around the world. Icaza González-Ruiz is the firm of choice for many multinationals entering Panama and seeking advice on corporate mandates, as well as representation in disputes and counsel on tax, labour and immigration issues.
The Panamanian government is a long-standing client, hiring the firm to award contracts and for capital markets work. The Panama Canal Authority and the consortium tasked with expanding the Panama metro are other regular clients, while the firm is one of three legal representatives to the Panama Diamond Exchange. Luxembourg-based steel producer Ternium has also used the firm.
Icaza González-Ruiz is based in Panama City and has offshore offices in Anguilla, the Bahamas, Belize, the British Virgin Islands, Geneva, Montevideo, the Seychelles and Singapore.
Alliances & Networks
The firm is a member of the international law network Multilaw.
Corporate and M&A
Key partners: A former ambassador to Belgium and the then European Economic Community, Roberto Alemán is a key figure for corporate work and also leads its offshore practice. Gabriel González-Ruiz, Alexis Herrera Jr and Luis Chalhoub take the lead on much of Icaza González-Ruiz’s M&A work. Herrera is recommended in LACCA Approved, in-house counsel research conducted by Latin Lawyer’s sister association, the Latin American Corporate Counsel Association.
Analysis: Icaza González-Ruiz fields a respected M&A and corporate team. The department covers mandates such as stock purchase agreements, acquisitions and share purchases. The firm’s offshore practice also comes recommended; it offers a range of trust services.
Key partners: Hugo Morán Rodríguez handles the IP area.
Analysis: This is a solid intellectual property department with know-how of trademarks, patents, utility models, industrial designs, slogans, copyrights, trade and domain names. The department helps clients file applications as well as prosecute and defend their IP rights.
Banking & finance
Key partners: In banking and finance Luis Chalhoub and Michelle de la Guardia pack a punch.
Analysis: Project financing, sovereign bond issuances and IPOs are examples of the kind of work carried out by this department. Big name clients include the government and the Panama Canal Authority.
Key partners: Hugo Morán Rodríguez and Gabriela Tejada de Britton.
Analysis: This is a solid disputes resolution department, offering representation in civil and commercial litigation. Most the department’s cases stem from the maritime, IP, labour and tax sectors, while international arbitration is also a strong suit.
Key partners: Labour lawyer Javier José Vallarino comes recommended in LACCA Approved and has acted as external legal adviser to Panama’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture since 2009.
Analysis: The firm handles clients’ labour relations for their Panamanian operations, which includes advice regarding contracts, salaries, social security matters and strike action. Collective bargaining is also covered by the department.
Key partners: Joel Medina is visible at the head of a busy shipping department. He has previously acted as a judge for the maritime court, and has helped draft maritime regulations. Alexis Herrera Jr is also very prominent in this practice.
Key partners: Alexis Herrera Jr acts mainly for foreign and local clients in bidding processes and concession negotiations.