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Aguilar Castillo Love expands into Bolivia
Latin American regional law firm Aguilar Castillo Love has opened an office in Bolivia by hiring two local partners, marking the firm’s continued expansion into South America.
José Carlos Bernal Rivera and Ismael Franco Gonzales joined the firm on January 2st, having previously run their own corporate outfit Bernal & Franco Abogados Corporativos. The two will be Aguilar Castillo Love’s sole partners in Bolivia.
Bernal will be based in Santa Cruz, Bolivia’s oil and gas hub, while Franco will work out of La Paz.
The two partners will advise clients across all corporate matters, including M&As, public-private partnerships, project finance, corporate governance and tax, the firm said.
Before establishing their own firm in December 2020, Bernal and Franco served as advisers at Bolivia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for almost a year. Previously, Bernal worked as a senior associate at Guevara & Gutiérrez, which combined with global law firm Dentons in October and is now known as Dentons Guevara & Gutiérrez.
He has also spent time as a foreign associate at Uría Menéndez in Madrid and is admitted to practice in both Bolivia and New York.
His incorporation forms part of Aguilar Castillo Love’s strategic hiring of Harvard alumni, as the firm has 10 partners who have studied at Harvard Law School.
For his part, Franco was previously an associate and junior partner at local firm Tufiño & Villegas, and he has experience working for the World Bank in Washington, DC as a consultant and international finance and development fellow.
“Despite still being comparatively small, Aguilar Castillo Love expects the Bolivian market to grow and recognizes that the country has an increasing presence of transnational companies and ‘multi-latinas’,” co-regional managing partner John Aguilar Quesada said.
He said the firm’s entry into the Bolivian market aims to consolidate its regional focus.
“This expansion is part of our wider ambitious growth strategy and consolidates our position as the first, truly, Latin American home-grown law firm,” he said.
Aguilar Castillo Love has a “very special reputation” that extends far in the region, José Carlos Bernal Rivera said. “The firm’s sophistication, business approach and unwavering commitment to the highest ethical standards are undoubtedly qualities that make the firm stand out and that attract clients and lawyers alike,” he added.
“There is definitely more space for international businesses to grow [in Bolivia] and the public is eager to receive technological solutions and investments in non-traditional sectors,” Ismael Franco Gonzales said.
Aguilar Castillo Love has offices in Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Panama and Paraguay, having opened an office in the latter country in 2020.
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