In almost 20 years, BLP has been transformed from a small, seven-lawyer entity to not only Costa Rica’s largest firm, but also a major contender across all five Central American jurisdictions. Aside from this region, the firm counts on a representative office in Madrid to capture European business, as well as Costa Rica’s former ambassador to Mexico as special counsel in Mexico City.
With one of the broadest offerings on the market capable of providing a fully comprehensive service to clients, BLP has carved out an unrivalled space in Central America. Though best known for its work in corporate and M&A advice and cross-border deals, including those involving multilateral financial institutions, the firm’s full-service capabilities have also served it well throughout more tumultuous times.
BLP has been kept particularly busy over the past year with a boom in real estate transactions involving a great influx of foreign investment following Costa Rica’s introduction of the digital nomad and golden visas. Meanwhile, some of this foreign investment has been channelled to the country’s free-trade zones and BLP has capitalised on this too, working with several multinationals seeking a presence in the area.
Some of the market’s finest lawyers, many of whom are held in high esteem among the country’s in-house counsel, lead the way across the firm’s many excellent practice areas. BLP continues to outshine the competition in Costa Rica, as no other law firm in the country has as many lawyers who come recommended in LACCA Approved, in-house counsel research conducted by the Latin American Corporate Counsel Association (LACCA), affiliated to Latin Lawyer.
BLP’s main mission for the years to come varies slightly across the region, but the underlying themes remain consolidation and stable growth. While the firm has an established strategic plan for the region, there are additional goals for each country. In Costa Rica, the firm intends to move offices in the coming years, indicative of a broader shift towards a more flexible work environment aimed at collaborative working spaces that can accommodate the projected growth in several areas, including non-transactional practice groups.
While the regional strategy is high on the to-do list, BLP continues to bolster its Costa Rican headquarters, with its already robust real estate practice becoming even more of a focus in recent years. In the past three years, BLP has absorbed a real estate boutique, opened two outposts on the Pacific coast and made several hires including a special counsel. These new offices are in tourist hotspots and focus on real estate transactions as well as global mobility and relocation services.
Aside from steadily increasing its human resources, the firm has not neglected technology improvements. Over the past two years, BLP has not only invested in its accounting and billing software but has also rolled out an artificial intelligence platform for the automation of notary public services, including immigration documentation. The firm is also currently developing software aimed at providing a client quote depending on a calculation of hours to be dedicated to a given project. This includes front-end software for client use, aimed at ensuring that any regulatory and government documentation will be available to see in an app, providing real-time access to the most up-to-date regulations.
BLP is keen on nurturing and retaining talent, ensuring the future of the firm and it regularly takes part in law firm management courses conducted by third parties. There is also the BLP University, an internal training programme focused on technical skills, as well as ‘soft’ skills.
The firm is clearly committed to diversity and is part of the programme Yo puedo, y Vos?, aimed at promoting the hiring by corporations of those affected by Down’s syndrome. BLP has been demonstrably active in gender parity and inclusion initiatives, including the programme Women in a Legal World, as well as producing a mentoring programme for young girls. With just over a third of the firm’s partnership in Costa Rica being women, there is also a clear commitment to gender parity. This above-average gender diversity at the senior level aligns with the firm’s goal to create a flat culture and make the workplace inclusive and enjoyable – something further bolstered by its popular pro bono programme.
BLP is clearly doing things right, having been awarded certificates for being a great workplace by third parties, as well as being one of the few firms in Costa Rica to have received endorsement for carbon neutrality as a result of its environmentally friendly policies. The firm’s prowess is further evidenced by its popularity among Latin America’s largest corporations. According to in-house counsel research conducted by LACCA, which is affiliated to Latin Lawyer, BLP represents 16 of Latin America’s 100 biggest companies, marking the firm as the most popular among these clients in Central America.
Costa Rican partner Luis Castro is the firm’s managing partner, both locally and regionally, and sits on the regional executive committee alongside David Gutiérrez and Eduardo Calderón. The firm also has a wider regional managing committee formed of the executive committee members as well as Zygmunt Brett, Luis Ruiz, José Álvarez, Ernesto Rizo and Karla Aguilar.
BLP in Costa Rica operates from the country’s capital San José and maintains outposts in Los Sueños and Las Catalinas in the coastal provinces of Puntarenas and Guanacaste, respectively. BLP has offices in the five Central American capitals plus an additional one in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula. Outside Central America, there has been a representative office in Madrid since 2017.
Alliances and networks
BLP is a member of international law networks Interlaw, Meritas, State Capital Global Law Firm Group and World Services Group.