Eduardo Mayora is Mayora & Mayora SC’s regional managing partner and son of Eduardo Mayora Dawe, founder of the firm. He has been an attorney and notary since 1980, and has various postgraduate degrees (including doctorates) in law and economics. A renowned Guatemalan lawyer, Mayora’s practice includes banking and finance, commercial, securities, arbitration, administrative and fiscal matters. A distinguished academic, he teaches at the Francisco Marroquín University Law School in Guatemala City. He is recognised as a leading lawyer in banking and finance, tax, and corporate law by associations such as Chambers and Partners, The Legal 500, LACCA and IFLR1000. Mayora has served as a director of banking and professional institutions, as well as international NGOs and associations, and he is often involved in global conferences.
Questions & Answers
Thought Leaders 2018 - Interview with Eduardo Mayora
Can you describe your career to date? What is it about being a lawyer that you enjoy most?
My career, which spans more than 35 years, has been very interesting and full of varied experiences. I have advised clients on their personal affairs; I have represented Congress before the Constitutional Court on the constitutionality of the law to privatise the telecoms and other state entities; I have worked on committees to propose new legislation on securities and capital markets, on the monetary regime and on banking; and I have been on arbitration panels at home and abroad. I have represented very humble people and very wealthy clients; I have taught the law, but more than anything I have learned about justice.
I view the law as an instrument to achieving higher values such as justice, security, peace and social advancement. By handling each legal matter with a view to meeting these higher values, one can achieve a life of dignity with a deeper meaning.
Why did you decide to specialise in corporate, and banking and finance law?
I chose to specialise in corporate, and banking and finance law, as well as tax and securities law because I have a deep interest in the workings of markets and these areas of the law are an essential part of this. For years I have studied and taught law and economics, which goes hand in hand with these practice areas. Each type of organisation, whether a modest pop-up shop or a publicly traded corporation, an international foundation or a local church, needs to use the financial system in one way or another. Financial institutions need to bring down transaction costs and the mind of a true lawyer can contribute enormously to structuring financial transactions in a tax-efficient manner, with transparency and at the lowest possible cost.
Guatemala has been facing a period of political instability. How has this impacted the country’s business and investment landscape?
Political instability has caused foreign direct investment to decrease over the past few years. This is a very complicated situation for a country where poverty is a major issue. I am convinced that this situation is directly connected to the legal system and most of all the judiciary, which does not create an adequate environment for business. I have tried to share my thoughts through a weekly column in major daily newspapers, advocating for an independent judiciary and, more generally, for the rule of law. I have also published two books, one on constitutional law and the other on judicial review, where I try to contribute to the debate and make my fellow citizens realise that we need to reform several legal institutions in order to improve this situation.
Guatemala has plenty of potential thanks to its relative size in Central America, proximity to Mexican and US markets, and abundant resources. What are some of the key priorities that can help support growth and investment in your opinion?
I think that there are at least two levels of priorities to make our economy optimally productive. At the higher level, the most important priorities are to reduce legal uncertainty, as referenced in the previous question, as well as the need to create an independent and unbiased judiciary. These are the bases for any investment, local or foreign. One endemic problem that must continue to be fought is corruption. Billions of dollars are lost or misused due to this phenomenon.
On a lower and more specific level, it is necessary to focus more public spending on education, public health and personal security. These basic needs are not being met and the poorest emigrate to the USA as a consequence, where they in turn face very low-income opportunities, and have no safety net or security for themselves or their property.
In your opinion, what are the biggest trends on the horizon for the banking and finance sector?
One of the biggest trends on the horizon for the banking and finance sector is the adoption of international standards and best practices. On a more micro level, the present condition of the judiciary in Guatemala has prompted the banking sector to return to security trusts instead of mortgages or other types of securities. A security trust, although costly, allows for the disposition of whatever collateral has been transferred to the trust without the intervention of a court.
What are the biggest challenges currently facing corporate lawyers in Guatemala?
In the realm of international business transactions, the biggest challenge is trying to close the gaps between the traditional ways of negotiating and structuring transactions in our jurisdiction and the myriad new ways of doing business in this ever-changing world. Additionally, there are new amendments to the commercial code, a special law for start-ups, a factoring law, bills for a leasing law, a competition law and new administrative regulations to contend with.
How does Mayora & Mayora distinguish itself from the competition? How would you like to see the firm develop in the next few years?
In the Central American region there are multiple regional firms, but very few are fully integrated across borders, and we are one of those. That means that throughout our expansion, we have partners across the region that share from the same profit pool and are subject to the very same incentives to support our clients, regardless of the jurisdiction. On the “back office” side, we have spent all the resources needed to acquire state-of-the-art computer systems, telecommunication facilities, cybersecurity, and a very competent staff headed by an American attorney, Kristin Volpicella, as CEO who oversees administrative aspects of all offices. This offers cost-saving synergies to clients and the ease of having one point of contact for the Northern Triangle.
Looking back at your career, what has been your proudest achievement and why?
I have had the honour to be part of some landmark cases over my career, but one that especially comes to mind and that I look back on with particular fondness is the privatisation of the telecoms industry in Guatemala, something I had a significant role in as an attorney. I also contributed in a significant way to the banking and financial laws of Guatemala – especially the legal regulation of the securities markets.