Both international and local clients seek out the 15 firms in the Dominican Republic chapter of the Latin Lawyer 250, with lawyers here remaining ever ambitious to provide a world-class service, which has been matched by the government’s efforts to modernise the country’s legal framework. Increased compliance-related mandates arising out of recent anti-money laundering legislation have continued to keep lawyers here occupied, while stricter regulatory frameworks have also encouraged firms to offer more specialised legal advice in these areas. These changes – along with the Dominican Republic’s membership in the DR-CAFTA trade area – have no doubt contributed to the country’s investor-friendly business environment, which can be seen in an increase in foreign investment already in 2022.
A new president, Luis Abinader, took office in 2020 and has since implemented fiscal recovery programmes to facilitate the country’s economic bounce back after some challenging years, which included political uncertainty and the global health emergency. The plans in place prioritise foreign investment and the development of local capital markets.
As a result, the Dominican Republic reports a GDP growth of 5.5% in 2022. Accordingly, law firms here have noted an increase in foreign investment and capital markets mandates, as well as an influx of work across the real estate and tourism industry, and energy-related mandates.
Much like other small legal markets, the legal scene here has historically been dominated by family-run and traditional firms, although this is constantly evolving. These days most firms are outgrowing this model and developing a more global outlook as a result of increased international mandates, particularly from companies setting up shop in the Dominican Republic. It is no surprise, then, that corporate teams at firms in this chapter have been especially busy of late.
Clearly, traditional transactional mandates such as M&A, corporate and finance work continue to take a large chunk of lawyers’ time here, but that is not all. In 2022, firms have also seen increased client demand for advice on competition, disputes, tax and restructuring matters. An uptick in intellectual property work has also kept these teams busy. Along those lines, fintech and digital privacy departments have become increasingly occupied in the wake of an expansive shift to e-commerce.
Meanwhile, some law firms here have made a play for non-transactional areas as a distinguishing factor, such as Jiménez Peña, which fields compliance, antitrust and white-collar-crime expertise.
Santo Domingo continues to be the central hub for the legal market although some firms such as DMK Abogados, Guzmán Ariza, OMG and Russin, Vecchi & Heredia Bonetti also maintain outposts in property and tourism hotspots such as Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, Samaná and Santiago de Los Caballeros.
Russin Vecchi is unique for its international network (linking it to 10 firms in the US, Asia and Russia). Squire Patton Boggs also distinguishes itself as the only international firm with an office here. Firms here have also looked further in terms of reaching international clients, with Pellerano & Herrera, for example, establishing a China desk to cater to an increasing number of banking and finance as well as corporate mandates from Beijing and Shanghai. The firm has also entered into a collaboration with US professional services firm Andersen Global to further expand the Dominican firm’s position in the market.
With institutionalisation becoming an ever-more-important priority for firms not only in this chapter but across the region, efforts to ensure diversity and, in particular, gender parity have not been neglected in the Dominican Republic. Law firms here in this chapter are distinguished for having one of the highest proportions of women in the partnership across those firms included in the Latin Lawyer 250: 44%, according to the latest research by Latin Lawyer.