The Honduran legal market is dominated by regional firms, largely because big-ticket transactional work is mostly regional by default in this country, meaning there are real advantages to belonging to a Central America-wide outfit.
Corporate law and banking and finance form the core of many firms’ offerings as the country’s comparatively small economy affords little opportunity for specialisation. However, some of the larger firms can provide tailor-made competition, energy and tax advice. They also cater to the tourism industry. Demand for white-collar crime and compliance is rising amid recent political unrest and wider global trends.
However, recent corruption scandals have brought a certain amount of market instability, and project developments have slowed down substantially. In 2019, a former congressman and brother of current President Juan Orlando Hernández was found guilty of drug smuggling in the US after having been arrested the year before in Miami, while files in a US court said President Hernández had allegedly accepted bribes from drug traffickers and protected a cocaine laboratory. In 2020, the mandate of the Organization of American States-backed Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras expired and has not been renewed.
Moreover, the pandemic and the unprecedented and significant effect of two hurricanes caused a contraction in GDP of 9% in 2020, a high number even within a region that saw significant overall GDP decline. However, the IMF is predicting a return to the type of growth seen in Honduras pre-pandemic in 2021.
Firms remain small in Honduras. Consortium and BLP are the only firms with over 20 lawyers. Despite their size advantage, they face stiff competition from the likes of Aguilar Castillo Love, Arias and García & Bodán. All three have good service offerings and experienced partnerships.
The Honduran legal market is, like many others in Central America, thoroughly regionalised. One of the few main independent transactional firms, Melara & Asociados, joined the regionalisation movement in 2021 by launching Alta together with Costa Rica’s Batalla, El Salvador’s Valdés, Suárez & Velasco Abogados and QIL+4 Abogados in Guatemala. The only firm that remains single-jurisdictional in this chapter is intellectual property heavyweight Bufete Mejía & Asociados.
Most of the firms listed are located in the capital, Tegucigalpa. However, the commercial centre of San Pedro Sula is another popular base of operations and the island tourist destination Roatán is another place firms are increasingly considering.