Dominican Republic

Market overview

The Dominican Republic chapter of the Latin Lawyer 250 is made up of 14 firms, all capable of providing high-quality advice to international and local clients. Dominican lawyers’ ambition...

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The Dominican Republic chapter of the Latin Lawyer 250 is made up of 14 firms, all capable of providing high-quality advice to international and local clients. Dominican lawyers’ ambition to provide a world-class service is matched by the government’s efforts to modernise the country’s legal framework. Compliance obligations surrounding anti-money laundering legislation introduced back in 2018 have prompted the legal community to focus on that area. Laws updating insolvency procedures, arbitration, stock markets, general corporation rules and data privacy have prompted many firms to offer more specialised legal advice and to bolster these areas of expertise as these stricter regulatory frameworks make the Dominican market more sophisticated. These changes – along with the Dominican Republic’s membership of the DR-CAFTA trade area – contribute to the country’s investor-friendly business environment.

The Dominican Republic’s economy shrank last year as a result of the covid-19 pandemic, with GDP growth contracting by 6.7% according to the IMF. However, it now predicts a healthy 5.5% growth for 2021 following the resolution of the country’s electoral crisis. After 16 years in power, the country’s Liberation Party was defeated when the Modern Revolutionary Party candidate Luis Abinader won a majority. The election was suspended after alleged irregularities due to an electronic glitch in the online voting system. The combination of political instability and uncertainty surrounding the pandemic slowed economic growth through the latter stages of 2020. Abinader, who assumed office in August 2020, is now tasked with guiding the Dominican Republic through its post-pandemic economic growth by implementing fiscal recovery programmes. To manage debt sustainability, the development of local capital markets will become increasingly important.

As is the case in small legal markets, family and traditional firms dominate the legal scene, but most are outgrowing this model, albeit at various speeds, as they find themselves increasingly competing against each other for international business. Real estate, tourism and financing all provide regular streams of work, and issuances of sovereign bonds are on the rise.

The firms listed here are all based in Santo Domingo, although Russin, Vecchi & Heredia Bonetti also has a base in Puerto Plata, while OMG has additional offices in Punta Cana, on the eastern coast, and in the northern city of Santiago de Los Caballeros. Russin Vecchi is unique for its international network (linking it to 10 firms in the US, Asia and Russia) but there is also a local office of Squire Patton Boggs (the only international law firm with a presence here).

Dominican firms anticipate workflow involving Chinese clients to increase as the two nations continue to establish deeper trade relations. Pellerano & Herrera has even created a China desk in preparation and has entered into a collaboration with US professional services firm Andersen Global to further expand the Dominican firm’s position in the market.

This legal community stands out for having one of the highest proportions of female partners in Latin America, with 44% of partners being women across the law firms included in the Latin Lawyer 250.

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