BKM | Berkemeyer is a common choice for multinational companies doing business in the country, thanks to its growing profile on major deals in the last decade. Traditionally IP-focused, the firm has developed its offering and now also stands out for its transactional skills. BKM has built a remarkable track record advising on some of the most prominent public-private partnership (PPP) deals, which are fuelling Paraguay’s infrastructure capabilities.
As Paraguay continues its long walk towards investment grade, BKM | Berkemeyer has increased its headcount and moved into modern offices at the World Trade Center, Asunción's main business complex, in a bid to boost capabilities and appeal to foreign investors. The firm currently has two office spaces in the capital.
Partners specialising in environment, disputes, tax and labour law are on hand to provide clients with a comprehensive service offer, with the latter two departments recently adding reinforcements to help clients that require advice on labour restrictions, new regulations from the tax authority and the free trade zone. Arbitration is a growing practice, while BKM | Berkemeyer also has a deep knowledge of the country’s traditional sectors, including agribusiness and real estate, and advises foreign financial institutions lending to local and foreign companies making investments. In its latest move to expand services, it has also opened a white-collar crime practice, making a hire and citing growing demand for compliance advice. In 2021, the firm promoted a lawyer in the corporate team.
BKM | Berkemeyer has benefited from Paraguay’s steady and substantial growth in the last decade, which has funnelled investments to the country and required innovative legal work, particularly in the transactional area. Two big-ticket project financings for road infrastructure developments, including the country’s first PPP, took place in 2019 and the firm landed a place on both. Such deals set a precedent of leadership and put BKM | Berkemeyer ahead of many of its competitors as the country further develops.
However, the firm’s leadership believes more can still be done to strengthen its position in the finance field. It has done well for projects work but acknowledges it still has a bit to go to truly break into more traditional banking and finance, where it is facing fierce competition. Capital markets is another area to bet on, according to the partnership, as that type of financing is continuously expanding its prominence in the country.
On the managerial front, BKM | Berkemeyer intends to institutionalise even further with a clear career track and transparent compensation system. Enhancing the latter has been the most recent focus and now takes client referrals into account. The leadership understands it must modernise and innovate to attract and retain the country’s best talent, as potential hires will look elsewhere if they see no clear ladder to climb towards the firm’s partnership. It is working with external consultants to achieve this goal and is willing to spend a few years to guarantee a solid implementation. In the meantime, the firm fosters a strong team spirit and promotes an open working culture that encourages associates to get involved. As part of that, it has policies in place for international studies and work experience, and to foster diversity and pro bono. Strategically, BKM | Berkemeyer is also investing in its relationship with international firms as the firm’s clients are increasingly looking to participate in international markets.
Technology investment was a key strategy for 2020, as the firm reallocated all its travel and conference budget to that end, enabling a smooth transfer to remote working for everyone at the firm as the pandemic hit. BKM | Berkemeyer has also invested in new software to ensure it complies with clients’ data privacy requirements and streamlined the firm’s billing and document management systems. Like many other firms, it is reconsidering the use of its office space. One-person offices may be turned into open working spaces and larger meeting rooms.
Clients praise the firm’s high-quality advice, business-minded approach and high standard of professionalism. In the words of an Argentine real estate developer, the firm stands out for its “outstanding quality of service”. The client adds: “I value the personal involvement of senior lawyers and their commitment with deadlines and delivery dates.” Another client from the entertainment business commends the firm’s highly qualified professionals.
International names dominate the firm’s books, thanks to lawyers speaking a range of foreign languages, most notably German and Portuguese. For clients unfamiliar with Paraguay’s business climate, the corporate practice is a one-stop shop offering services from human resources to accounting. The firm also maintains ties to the business world through its involvement in the Paraguayan American Chamber of Commerce. BKM | Berkemeyer’s service offer is enhanced through the team’s links to the government and the assistance its lawyers have provided in drafting sections of Paraguayan legislation.
BKM | Berkemeyer is headquartered in the capital, Asunción, where it operates across two outposts.