Arias’ Guatemala office is a regular actor in large cross-border M&A transactions, having consistently demonstrated its prowess in this area. A core component of the firm’s transactional capabilities lies in its well-integrated regional network of offices, allowing it to take on a host of cross-border work. Meanwhile, the banking and finance team remains a strong component of the firm.
Arias has already been active in sizable acquisitions in 2022, having advised Dutch chemical manufacturer IMCD on its acquisition of Panama-headquartered industrial material producer Quelaris. For this deal, IMCD instructed Arias in San José, San Salvador, Guatemala City, Tegucigalpa and Panama City.
As far as Arias’ non-transactional offering goes, few Guatemalan firms can claim to match the breadth and quality of its services. Labour and litigation are both strongholds for this outlet, with the firm set to expand the labour team in 2022. The tax and regulatory departments have continued to keep lawyers occupied, with an increased demand for regulatory and compliance advice concerning health, registrations and licensing. Environmental mandates have been more prominent in the firm’s workload this year, particularly around matters arising out of recent regulatory changes in the country.
IP is another prominent department at Arias’ Guatemalan office, with the firm further bolstering this group in early 2022 by promoting a senior associate to senior counsel with leading responsibilities. The firm expects its IP practice to continue going from strength to strength, particularly in areas concerning piracy and counterfeiting. Arias’ real estate team in Guatemala has also been particularly active this year, and there are plans in the works to centralise this practice across the region to capitalise upon cross-border real estate transactions.
Arias’ multi-jurisdictional offering is often cited enviously by competitors, but the partnership is determined to take the firm to the next level. While founding partner Armando Arias continues to oversee the operation of the firm and remains active with clients, a three-member management council including Guatemala partner Liz Gordillo heads the regional leadership. The council is responsible for ensuring a smooth managerial transition from one generation to the next, with office integration being one of the firm’s top priorities. To that end, and to solidify a united approach across the region, Arias has fully implemented a firm-wide career track in recent years, providing younger talent with clear guidelines on how to grow within the firm.
Gender equality, as well as broader matters of diversity, are embedded within Arias’ culture, with its entire regional managing committee being composed of three female partners. Last year, the firm also became a signatory party to the Declaración de San José, which is comprised of ten principal statements against discrimination due to sexual orientation, identity, expression and gender. The firm’s strong regional presence, combined with its demonstrable commitment to service quality and gender equality – some 50% of its partnership firm-wide are women – has made it a 2023 Latin Lawyer Elite Firm.
Not only does Arias continue to invest in its talent, but it also dedicates resources to technological improvements. This year, the firm developed a software platform to facilitate uploading and keeping track of ongoing cases, and a priority for 2022 has been to further build upon this platform to include pro bono matters as well. These investments have not gone unnoticed by clients, with the firm having received praise for its efficiency and in-depth knowledge.
In the light of such investments and positive client reception, it is unsurprising to see the firm among the most popular in the region. According to an in-house counsel research conducted by the Latin American Corporate Counsel Association, which is affiliated to Latin Lawyer, Arias represents 11 of the 100 biggest companies in Latin America, positioning it among the top three most popular firms in the region.
Pro bono has also remained a priority in 2022, with the firm now having established a centralised approach across the region to handle this type of work. Pro bono work is now divided into three core pillars: 1) end of poverty; 2) diversity and inclusion; and 3) environmental concerns. The firm has also outlined a goal to become net-zero by 2023 and is already taking steps to achieve this, having established a carbon footprint inventory to identify potential measures to reduce the firm’s footprint.
Arias is managed at a regional level by regional managing partner Armando Arias and an elected management council composed of partners Carolina Flores in Costa Rica, Liz Gordillo in Guatemala and Roberta Gallardo in El Salvador. Liz Gordillo is the managing partner in Guatemala. A management committee, comprised of all managing partners across the region, is also involved in the operation of the firm.
Arias has offices in the capital cities of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua and Guatemala, and an additional office in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.