In the past couple of decades, Uruguay has capitalised on its period of political stability and economic growth. President Luis Lacalle Pou has shown a commitment to continuing the development of the local market and the country is on a clear path to achieving the 3% growth forecast by the International Monetary Fund for 2022.
The investment-friendly economy continues to provide plenty of work for a legal market with considerable clout. Complex cross-border transactions are no longer a rarity, but a common occurrence on which Uruguayan firms can be seen working. Firms in this chapter now boast impressive transactional teams, fully equipped to manage financial and corporate matters.
Renewable energy opportunities have sparked an uptick in project financing, while M&A lawyers have witnessed an increase in work thanks to continued investment in the country’s wind and solar farms. Other infrastructure work – involving mainly motorways and railways – has increased since Pou pledged to liberalise certain sectors and find alternatives for the financing of public works.
The fintech and start-up boom in Latin America has been felt strongly in Uruguay, thanks to private initiatives and staunch support from the government. Favourable banking regulations, complemented by a highly skilled workforce, means that technology-based start-ups thrive in the country’s marketplace and law firms have been kept busy handling transactions in this fast-growing sector.
Uruguay has a mature legal market, which is dominated by the two largest firms: Ferrere (Uruguay) and Guyer & Regules. The former has long been synonymous with regional expansion, although that growth stalled recently. In Uruguay, the two firms remain in a close-fought battle for the leading spot in the local legal sector.
Despite the dominance of these two firms, there are also highly rated alternatives on offer. These firms leverage their smaller headcounts to give clients specialised counsel across a range of areas.
To complement their Montevideo headquarters, several firms have offices in the city’s free trade zones and the coastal city of Punta del Este. Ferrere (Uruguay) remains the only local firm to pursue international expansion, and that looks unlikely to change anytime soon, with no other Uruguayan firms planning international openings. Following Dentons’ arrival in the country, no more foreign firms are expected to set up shop in this jurisdiction in the near future.