There are a myriad of reasons to seek legal services in Colombia. It’s especially useful for foreigners who don’t speak Spanish, but plan on getting a visa to open a business or after marrying a Colombian spouse.
A little background on Colombia’s legal system; this may interest those of you who are legally minded. The country has a Civil Law system in place that is based primarily on legal codes, rather than jurisprudence. As with other civil law countries, Colombia’s legal system does not necessarily have to recognize the ruling of any legal body like a court (though there are exceptions).
What’s more, the concept of precedence is absent from the Colombian legal system, meaning a court’s ruling on one case does not have to be applied to all cases in the future. Sound a bit convoluted? No worries: good legal services in Colombia will be able to translate the legalese for the layperson to understand.
For investors, companies and entrepreneurs who are new to the country, acquiring, a legal representative, a fiscal auditor in Colombia, and all relevant HR/administrative staff is a best practice that all newcomers should follow. But fret not if it doesn’t seem as though your fledgling firm has the budget for it. All of those kinds of things can be outsourced at very reasonable prices.
Why seek out legal services in Colombia?
There are innumerable reasons why a company planning on entering a new market might seek legal services in Colombia, but the following reasons are the most common:
- Corporate law
- Foreign investment
- Real estate
- Accounting and taxes
- Trademarks/IP protection
SEE ALSO: When Do You Need a Legal Representative in Colombia?
By now it should be well understood that legal services in Colombia are a must-have when entering the market or investing there.
What to look for in an attorney:
Not all Colombian lawyers are created equal. The onus is on you, the client, to suss out whether a law firm is tossing you any old lawyer who happens to be free that day, or a true professional who is well educated and experienced in the legal areas that best suit your needs. So what kind of qualities should you be looking for when seeking legal services in Colombia?
- Does the lawyer or firm offer a free consultation?
- Is the lawyer driven by getting results first, and payment second?
- Is the lawyer perfectly fluent in English?
- Is the lawyer experienced enough to handle your specific needs?
- Does the lawyer have a good reputation with previous clients?
Remember, there are literally hundreds of legal consultancies and giant international law firms that have thousands of attorneys on the payroll – all of whom have varying degrees of specialization, experience and local knowledge. So it’s okay to shop around for legal services in Colombia until you find the one who’s the right fit for your organization.
Legal services in Colombia: Top 5 essential attorney characteristics
The following can be considered a basis of what to seek out in an attorney who will be representing your company in various legal matters. But a company’s or investor’s specific set of circumstances will necessitate you to look for other characteristics to address your specific set of circumstances – so the following should not be considered an exhaustive list:
1. An attorney and/or law firm that offers free consultations
In civil law, an attorney or her/his law firm might charge for a first-time consultation to determine how serious the client is about pursuing a case (like a law suit, for example). But this is corporate law, and companies aren’t messing around; they need a pile of things done, from assembling all the documentation to incorporate a company or purchase property, to arranging bank accounts and applying for visas. It’s important to keep in mind that law firms that charge for consultations might indicate that they simply don’t have the resources to provide free legal advice to all potential clients.
2. A lawyer who’s driven to achieve results
Most well-established and competent attorneys in Colombia are motivated by providing the best possible legal representation that they can provide – and not just receive a paycheck. The most reputable attorneys will not ask for full payment until results have been achieved, so clients should consider any insistence on full payment up front as a red flag.
3. An attorney who is perfectly fluent in English
Most Colombian legal professionals who avail their services to overseas clients will speak English, but proficiency levels can vary, especially outside of the cities. Ensure that the lawyer you’re considering speaks English with a fluency that you’re comfortable with and can easily understand; the last thing you want is some mishap to occur because something was lost in translation.
4. A lawyer who is highly specialized and experienced
The attorney you hire assumes a key role in your organization. Not only will they manage your business’ dealings with the local regulatory and government entities, but it will be on them to guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have. Ensure that the lawyer you’re considering has a background in company incorporation law, and has done so before.
5. An attorney who has a good reputation
This is kind of an obvious point, and it may be tough to get an honest assessment about a particular person you’re considering hiring to be your legal representative in Colombia. Perhaps getting someone to ask around about the candidate in legal circles on your behalf, or even doing a Google search, may yield some key insights about the lawyer’s past. This could be the difference between hiring their legal services in Colombia, or avoiding someone who is potentially problematic.
Biz Latin Hub can help you with legal services in Colombia
At Biz Latin Hub, we provide integrated market entry and back-office services throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, with offices in Bogota and Cartagena, as well as over a dozen other major cities in the region. We also have trusted partners in many other markets.
Our unrivalled reach means we are ideally placed to support multi-jurisdiction market entries and cross-border operations.
As well as knowledge about legal services in Colombia, our portfolio of services includes hiring & PEO accounting & taxation, company formation, bank account opening, and corporate legal services.
Contact us today to find out more about how we can assist you in finding top talent, or otherwise do business in Latin America and the Caribbean.
If this article on legal services in Colombia was of interest to you, check out the rest of our coverage of the region. Or read about our team and expert authors.