Law firms in El Salvador have embraced the Central American regionalisation strategy wholeheartedly, and several firms now straddling several countries in the area have their origins here. Regional pioneer Arias has its roots in El Salvador, where it dominates the market to this day. San Salvador-based Sáenz & Asociados is also pursuing a regional strategy, but with smaller offices.
Central American firms based outside of the country value a presence in El Salvador. Consortium Legal has a well-established office in San Salvador, while Costa Rica-based BLP is a newer player with a growing reputation and office. More recently, Guatemala’s Mayora & Mayora, SC entered El Salvador by absorbing local banking and finance outfit Telles & Asociados and rebranding as Mayora & Mayora SC (El Salvador). Romero Pineda & Asociados is the only major firm in El Salvador that has favoured an extensive network of alliances over boots-on-the-ground expansion, and comfortably competes for work with its multijurisdictional counterparts.
Like much of Central America, true practice area specialisation is uncommon in El Salvador, but there is no shortage of experienced transactional lawyers who have enhanced many of their skills in cross-border work. The largest outfits have strong banking and corporate departments, while good IP and disputes teams form the backbone of several firms listed here.
Elections in early 2019 marked a major change in the country when Nayib Bukele, a candidate who came from neither of the two traditional parties, won the presidency. With huge popular approval, but limited backing in parliament, there is uncertainty about whether he will be able to help the country’s stagnated economy pick up the pace. While a few large deals, including the country’s largest-ever project financing, took place in 2019, it is not likely that this can be attributed to the new government. Some of Bukele’s efforts so far have been focused on tackling the country’s security issues and the high level of violence. Meanwhile, off the back of a few big corruption scandals that have involved former Salvadorian presidents, awareness of compliance is on the rise, with law firms dedicating more resources to the practice and to internal policies.
No firms have seen the need to expand outside the capital, San Salvador. This is hardly surprising, given that it is the smallest country in Central America.