The Dominican Republic chapter of the Latin Lawyer 250 is made up of six 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. New compliance obligations surrounding anti-money laundering legislation, which were recently introduced, 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 grew last year, with GDP growth reaching 5% according to the IMF. The bank predicted a healthy 5.2% growth for 2020, but the country is now facing an electoral crisis in this election year following the suspension of the municipal elections in February after alleged irregularities due to an electronic glitch in the online voting system. Opposition parties have called the irregularities an anti-democratic move by President Danilo Medina’s ruling Dominican Liberation Party, and protestors have taken to the streets arguing for a crackdown on corruption and social repression, and for economic reforms of Medina’s government. The social and political unrest is expected to cause a slowdown in foreign investment into the nation, which traditionally has relied upon its real estate, tourism and construction industries to prosper.
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. Several report investing in their IT systems as part of a push towards modernisation that should appeal to foreign clients. Real estate, tourism and financing all provide regular streams of work, while representing US and domestic baseball teams in their corporate affairs remains a lucrative and almost uniquely Dominican practice.
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 US firm Squire Patton Boggs (the only US 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.
This legal community stands out for having the highest proportion of women partners in Latin America (upwards of 40% on average).