The firms in this chapter are ambitious to provide top-tier services and their efforts are supported by a government keen to modernise the country’s legal framework.
The Dominican Republic has experienced an impressive rate of development over the last quarter of a century, with average economic growth of more than 6% each year, according to the World Bank. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has consistently ranked the country as the fastest-growing economy in Latin America and the Caribbean since 2010.
The Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) has played a key role in strengthening the country’s investor-friendly business environment, along with regulatory frameworks surrounding compliance and anti-money laundering.
President Luis Abinader has implemented fiscal recovery programmes to facilitate the country’s economic growth after the covid-19 pandemic, in addition to implementing plans to prioritise foreign investment and the development of the local capital markets. While 2024 will bring general elections to the Dominican Republic, Abinader is enjoying high approval ratings, leading many to believe there will be little disruption in the coming years.
The economic growth as meant that law firms in this chapter have seen a rise in foreign investment and capital markets mandates, an uptick in work across the real estate and tourism industry, as well as energy-related mandates.
Like other small legal markets, the law firm arena has been predominantly led by family-run and long-standing traditional firms. Despite this, change is afoot as most firms have started to outgrow this model and are increasingly developing a global outlook thanks to the rising flow of international mandates. Corporate teams at firms in this chapter continue to be among some of the busiest.
It is no surprise that traditional transactional matters – M&A and banking work mainly – continue to form a large part of lawyers’ workload, but firms here have broad service offerings. A number of outfits in this chapter have also seen increased client demand for advice on competition, disputes, tax and restructuring matters. An uptick in intellectual property work has also kept teams active. Some firms have even made rare partner hires to bolster more niche areas of law. In 2023, Pellerano Nadal Law & Consulting hired a special counsel from the local Superintendency of Banks as partner to advise on banking regulation, for example.
Some firms in this chapter stand out from their rivals for their work in non-transactional areas, such as Jiménez Peña, which fields compliance, antitrust and white-collar-crime expertise.
Russin, Vecchi & Heredia Bonetti is unique for its international network (linking it to firms in the US and Asian markets). Squire Patton Boggs sets itself apart from others in this chapter as the only international firm with an office here.
Law firms in the Dominican Republic are keen to win favour among international clients. Pellerano & Herrera, for instance, established a China desk to cater to an increasing number of banking and finance deals, as well as more complex corporate mandates. The same firm entered into a collaboration agreement with US professional services firm Andersen Global to better the Dominican firm’s position in the market.
Lateral hires in this market are rarely seen, with law firms preferring internal growth. OMG, Pellerano & Herrera and Headrick Rizik Alvarez & Fernández are among the local groups that have most recently rewarded their talent with partner appointments.
Institutionalisation is a priority for many firms, not only in this chapter but across the region, and efforts to ensure diversity and gender parity have not been neglected in the Dominican Republic. Law firms here are distinguished for having the highest proportions of women in the partnership compared to peers in other jurisdictions included in the Latin Lawyer 250. In fact, there are more female partners (55%) than male partners within the Dominican Republic’s most notable firms, according to the latest research by Latin Lawyer, a number far exceeding those of many other firms in the region.
Santo Domingo is 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 tourist hotspots such as Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, Samaná and Santiago de Los Caballeros.