Alfaro, Ferrer & Ramírez (AFRA) celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2021, and despite all this time in the market, its ambition and the quality of its service have not been stunted. This ability to remain at the top is certainly attributable to its talented lawyers. Only the brightest minds make the cut, as there is a tough recruitment process: candidates must have paralegal experience, working knowledge of the firm and a master’s degree from a foreign university.
The firm’s diverse offering, which blends transactional services with restructuring, administrative law, IP and labour advice, ensures lawyers are busy even when Panama’s economy is less than thriving. The firm also still provides offshore services. This diversified approach certainly served the firm well in 2020, given the covid-19 pandemic and the associated negative economic growth in the country and the world. Partners note that one of its counter-cyclical practices, labour, was especially busy. Meanwhile, the firm’s partners expect its litigation and restructuring practices to pick up in 2021, after a year in which many courts were closed and moratoriums were in place.
AFRA says integrity is its number one priority and it has a dedicated compliance manager, which not all Latin American firms have. The firm, led by an executive committee of 6 partners, also prides itself on the direct involvement of its partners in legal work and their rapid response times.
In 2020, AFRA demonstrated its commitment to working on cross border, high value matters: it advised US investor Kingsland Holdings on a US$100 million loan to Colombian airline Avianca. The firm also set a precedent in 2020, helping IDB Invest underwrite the first social bonds issued by a private company in Colombia.
Outside Panama, the firm has an office in the British Virgin Islands for its offshore work.