2021 Latin Lawyer Elite firm
The San Salvador office is the jewel of Arias’ regional crown. The firm is several steps ahead of its competitors by size and has a leading position in cross-border transactions that is hard to match. It owes much of its success to Armando Arias, who pioneered the regional model that so many of its competitors have sought to emulate. Its market-leading status is also down to its talented team of lawyers. The firm has more lawyers than any other Salvadorian firm recommended in LACCA Approved, in-house counsel research conducted by the Latin American Corporate Counsel Association, an affiliate of Latin Lawyer. Clients single out accurate legal advice as lawyers’ hallmark qualities and praise them for their responsiveness, professionalism and thoroughness.
Arias is a full-service firm, and its high level of service extends beyond the transactional fields to areas like tax, labour, litigation and intellectual property. Again, the firm’s prestige is recognised across each of these disciplines, helping to ensure clients receive a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary offering. Other areas that are growing, and in which the firm has showcased its capabilities in recent times, is antitrust and energy. The firm can point to big antitrust cases it has handles such as AB InBev’s megamerger with SABMiller, and its advice related to the financing and construction of a local thermal power plant at the Acajutla port in El Salvador. Technology and data privacy law advice has seen an uptick in work during 2020, while the labour and litigation groups have been particularly busy and may require further firepower, according to the partnership. New partners were made at the start of 2021, strengthening the firm’s corporate and disputes offerings with one promotion in each.
The firm is popular among large corporations in the region too. According to a study, ‘Who Represents Latin America's Biggest Companies’, published by Latin Lawyer’s affiliate, the Latin American Corporate Counsel Association, Arias – as a regional law firm – represents 10 of the approximately 100 biggest companies in Latin America. This makes it one of the three most popular firms among these clients in Central America.
Arias is a 2021 Latin Lawyer Elite Firm and one of Central America’s top names. It has more than held its own amid the rapidly rising number of regional firms, as well as the entry of international players. Armando Arias, who received Latin Lawyer’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2021, remains active in the management of the firm, while the regional leadership is helmed by a three-member management committee. The committee is responsible for ensuring a smooth managerial transition from one generation to the next and has office integration across all countries as one of the management’s top priorities. Its Salvadorian representative is Roberta Gallardo, meaning all members are women. The firm also stands out in the market for having some 50% women in its partnership across the region.
While Arias’ cohesive multi-jurisdictional offering, which includes regional practice groups, is often mentioned enviously by its competitors, the partnership believes more can still be done. A regional legal coordinator is working tirelessly on fine-tuning the firm’s regional operation, ensuring clients get excellent service, regardless of the country or lawyer. A key focus over the last few years have been to fully implement a new firm-wide career track to give young talent clear guidelines on how to grow within the firm. In El Salvador, an internal mentorship programme to foster organic growth has been put in place and is reportedly already appreciated by associates. The partnership also emphasises work flexibility and values lawyers’ wellbeing, exemplified by a new 4 pm office-closure policy on Fridays that was introduced at the start of 2020 to give lawyers more time for the weekend and with their families.
Arias also appreciates the importance of technology investment to stay ahead of the competition. The firm has adopted secure online access to cases for clients in some of its practice areas, including IP, litigation and migration, to improve transparency and accessibility. It is planning to roll this out across all departments. A new document delivery software is also in the making, which aims to improve process efficiency and free up resources.
Arias is managed at a regional level by Armando Arias and an elected management committee composed of three lawyers, Costa Rican partner Carolina Flores, Guatemalan partner Liz Gordillo and Salvadorian partner Roberta Gallardo. In El Salvador, Roberta Gallardo and Lilian Arias co-lead the office.
Arias has seven offices: in the capital cities of Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, and an additional office in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
Alliances & networks
The firm is a member of the Pacific Rim Advisory Council and the Costa Rica office forms part of the