Liz is a managing partner at Arias and member of the Regional Council of the firm. She assists international and local companies in compliance with local regulations, contracts, labour disputes, internal labour regulations and occupational safety, among other areas. Her practice is devoted to labour, immigration and regulatory law. She is also experienced in intellectual property, industrial property, corporate, agency and distribution, tort, telecommunications, product liability and consumer law.
She has had an active participation in the Review and Drafting Commissions for the Law on Competition, and the User and Consumer Protection Law. Liz has been a legal adviser to the United Nations in the Guatemalan modernisation programme (1997); adviser to the Guatemalan Tourism Institute in the modernisation programme (1997); consultant to the Revision of the Civil Services Bill (1996–1997); legal adviser to the Minister and Vice Minister of Economy (1996–1997); legal adviser to the Immigration Bill (1998); legal adviser for the CAFTA Trade and Commercial Law Assessment Activity Overview seminar (2004); and leader of the Guatemalan team on the seminar pertaining to the USAID regional conference on the evaluation of the Trade and Commercial Law of CAFTA 2005.
She has a law degree from the Universidad Rafael Landívar, and is an active attorney at law and public notary. She studied legal issues on international business at INCAE Business School; the program of instruction for lawyers at Harvard Law School; the Harvard leading professional service firms’ course; and tort law at the Universidad de Salamanca, in Spain (2003).
Liz has been recognised by LACCA as a Thought Leader in labour matters.
Questions & Answers
Thought Leaders 2020 - Interview with Liz Gordillo
Describe your career to date.
I have over 30 years of work experience as a lawyer and it seems all that time has gone in the blink of an eye. It has been an intense and rewarding process to be able to serve clients and support them in finding solutions to their business needs.
What do you enjoy most about being a lawyer in your practice area?
Being able to acquire more knowledge and experience every day, by handling a varied caseload for our clients. In addition, while being a lawyer means focusing on the service to people and clients, being a labour lawyer means developing skills as a peacemaker. I have the strong belief that being in this area of law has allowed me to grow not only in my professional area, but also as a human being.
What was the most challenging case or transaction you have ever worked on and why?
This is a difficult question to answer indeed. Some cases are challenging because of their complexity; others because of the sensitivity of the issues involved, such as harassment, labour litigation or the closing of a business. In every situation there is a duty to act in the most professional manner but also to take into consideration the human component.
What are the greatest challenges for labour lawyers in Guatemala this year?
Unquestionably, the current crisis caused by the covid-19 pandemic is a big challenge for everyone. In the case of legislators, the government and employers, it raises the urgent need for new rules and regulations that will support resuming work activities and ensuring every worker’s health and safety, without sacrificing efficiency and productivity. We will also have to learn how to interact differently and work closely with governments and courts in litigation cases, because many procedures will have to change. Current unemployment and the financial problems that some companies are facing due to the pandemic will also need to be addressed by labour lawyers and government authorities, to find solutions that will allow countries and communities to return to normality.
How do you expect your practice to evolve over the next five years?
Labour law is an area of continuous growth, and it is expected that local government will modernise labour regulations, in line with modern times. The increased implementation of working from home and other working patterns adopted during the covid-19 pandemic is probably going to create a whole new paradigm when it comes to labour laws. Other emergencies in the future will likely have a similar impact on people’s livelihood, so there is a need to create a stronger labour system to protect lives and businesses during unprecedented situations.
What do clients look for when selecting you as a lawyer?
I think clients look for experience, ethics and a prompt solution to their problems.
How would you like to see your law firm develop in the coming years?
I hope that our firm remains at the forefront of the market both locally and regionally, in terms of quality and services to its clients.
You have enjoyed a very distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?
I am privileged because of the opportunities that I have had, and currently have, to develop my career. In the near future, one of my goals is to join other professionals in contributing to present and implement the modernisation of labour legislation in Guatemala. It is important to think about the future generation that needs access to employment, and we need to work to have a modern labour law framework that facilitates this process.