2021 Latin Lawyer Elite Firm
More than a century in the marketplace has not blunted Arias, Fábrega & Fábrega’s ambition; it remains one of Panama’s finest firms. Arias, Fábrega & Fábrega – or ARIFA, as it is known – is a pacesetter in banking and finance, with visibility on the country’s key capital markets deals that few others can match. Even during the 2020 tough market conditions, the firm had a remarkably busy year concerning banking & finance and capital markets transactions. The firm’s broad service offering, its commitment to gender diversity and its talented internationally-minded lawyers make it a 2021 Latin Lawyer Elite firm.
ARIFA was however less busy working on M&A transactions than in previous years, given the sharp economic downturn Panama experienced in 2020 as a result of the covid-19 health emergency. It did however advise on the sale of the Latin American operations of fashion retailer Forever 21, among other deals, further demonstrating the firm’s ability to work on multi-jurisdictional deals, even during the toughest of economic conditions. Its transactional excellence is supported by thriving disputes, real estate and IP practices, allowing for a multi-faceted service offering.
ARIFA’s renowned strength in banking and finance means that financial institutions form a large part of its client base; representative clients include Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Banco Davivienda, Citigroup Global Markets, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan. Notable names from other sectors include US United Airlines and Italian insurance company Assicurazioni Generali.
The senior members of this firm have regulatory experience few in this chapter can rival, the younger generation can take advantage of this and can speak directly to the authors of key Panamanian legislation. Strong international experience is reflected in the high numbers of lawyers at all levels of the firm who have studied at leading US universities. Education overseas is an integral part of the firm’s strategy to ensure its high-quality service offer will be preserved for generations to come. In early 2021 the firm welcomed back a partner after he had served as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in the incumbent Cortizo administration. Before this, in 2020, the firm bolstered its litigation, arbitration and aviation offerings by promoting two junior partners to the equity partnership.
The firm’s leaders are also mindful of the need to invest in state-of-the-art software (which proved vital during the shift to home working in 2020), and there is a team of non-legal professionals who help ensure the smooth running of this top-tier legal outfit. This team includes a CEO, firm manager and heads of HR, marketing and accounting. These employees work alongside a partner executive committee that steers strategy and policy. A highly advanced business management platform provides a solid foundation that allows ARIFA's lawyers to focus on what they do best: providing quality legal advice. A decent partner-to-associate ratio, strength across the board and healthy diversity figures also mark this firm out.
The firm’s leadership is shared among partners Ricardo Arango, Fernando A. Arias and Rodrigo Cardoze. They form part of an executive committee which includes partners María del Carmen Zúñiga, María Carolina Arroyo, Estif Aparicio and Federico Alfaro.
As well as its headquarters in Panama, the firm has offices in London, Hong Kong, the British Virgin Islands, Belize and Uruguay.
Alliances & networks
ARIFA is a member of international law networks Lex Mundi, Interlaw and the Pacific Rim Advisory Council.