There are a myriad of reasons to seek legal services in Colombia. It is especially useful for foreigners who do not speak Spanish, but plan to obtain a visa to open a business or after marrying a Colombian spouse.
Some 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 which is primarily based on legal codes, rather than law. As with other civil law countries, Colombia's legal system does not necessarily recognize the judgment of any legal body such as a court (although there are exceptions).
In addition, the concept of precedence is absent in the Colombian legal system, which means that a court's decision in one case does not have to be applied to all cases in the future. Does that sound a bit complicated? No worries: good legal services in Colombia will be able to translate the legalese for the layman to understand.
For investors, companies and entrepreneurs who are new to the country, acquire, a legal representative, a tax accountant in Colombia, and all relevant HR/administrative staff is a best practice that all newcomers should follow. But don't worry if it doesn't seem like your startup has the budget for it. All such things can be outsourced at very reasonable rates.
Why seek legal services in Colombia?
There are countless reasons why a company plans to enter one new market can seek legal services in Colombiabut the following reasons are the most common:
- Corporate law
- Foreign investments
- Real estate
- Accounting and taxes
- Trademarks/IP protection
By now it should be well understood that legal services in Colombia are a must when entering the market or investing there.
What to look for in a lawyer:
All Colombian lawyers are not created equal. It is up to you, the client, to find out whether a law firm is throwing you some old lawyer who happens to be off that day, or a true professional who is well trained and experienced in the legal fields that best suit your needs. So what kind of qualities should you look for when looking for 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 perfect in English?
- Is the attorney experienced enough to handle your specific needs?
- Does the lawyer have a good reputation with previous clients?
Remember that there are literally hundreds of legal consultancies and giant international law firms that have thousands of lawyers on their payroll – all with varying degrees of specialization, experience and local knowledge. So it's okay to look for legal services in Colombia until you find the right fit for your organization.
Legal Services in Colombia: Top 5 Essential Lawyer Qualities
The following can be considered as a basis for what to look for in a lawyer who will represent your company in various legal matters. However, the specific circumstances of a business or investor will require you to look for other qualities to address your specific circumstances – so the following should not be considered an exhaustive list:
1. A lawyer and/or law firm offering free consultations
In civil law, a lawyer or her law firm may charge for an initial consultation to determine how serious the client is in pursuing a case (such as a lawsuit, for example). But this is corporate law, and corporations don't argue; they need a pile of things done, from gathering all the documentation to incorporate a company or buy property, to arranging bank accounts and applying for visas. It is important to remember that law firms that charge for consultations may indicate this they simply do not have the resources to provide free legal advice to all potential customers.
2. A lawyer who is driven to achieve results
Most well-established and competent lawyers in Colombia are motivated by providing the best possible legal representation they can provide – and not just getting a paycheck. Most reputable attorneys will not request full payment until results are achieved, so clients should consider any insistence on full payment up front as a red flag.
3. A lawyer who is perfect in English
Most Colombian lawyers who use their services for foreign clients will speak English, but proficiency levels can vary, especially outside the cities. Make sure the lawyer you are considering speaks English with a fluency that you are comfortable with and can easily understand; the last thing you want is for a mishap to occur because something has been lost in translation.
4. A lawyer who is highly specialized and experienced
The lawyer you hire has a key role in your organization. Not only will they handle your company's dealings with local regulators and authorities, but it will be up to them to guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have. Make sure the lawyer you are considering has a background in corporate law and has done it before.
5. A lawyer who has a good reputation
This is a fairly obvious point, and it can be difficult to get an honest assessment of a particular person you are considering hiring as your legal representative in Colombia. Having someone ask around about the candidate in legal circles on your behalf, or even do a Google search, can provide some important insights into the attorney's past. This can be the difference between hiring your 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 reliable partners in many other markets.
Our unparalleled reach means we are ideally suited to support multi-jurisdictional market entry and cross-border operations.
In addition to knowledge of legal services in Colombia, our portfolio of services includes employment & PEO accounting & taxation, company formation, bank account opening and corporate legal services.
Contact Us today to find out more about how we can help you find 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 writers.
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