Jackson Lewis opens in Puerto Rico as gateway to Latin America

US employment firm Jackson Lewis is to open an office in Puerto Rico, marking its first base outside of mainland US.

The firm said the new office will act as a “gateway” to businesses operating in the Caribbean and Latin America, where parts of the economy are projected to boom.

The base will be led by partner Sara Colón-Acevedo and of counsel Juan Felipe Santo, both of whom join from local firm Schuster Aguilo. The pair will work closely with Miami-based Jackson Lewis partner Pedro Torres-Díaz, who will become litigation manager of the new office.

“Puerto Rico offered the perfect opportunity for expansion,” said the firm’s chairman Vincent Cino, who took up the post earlier this month. “We always try to be where our clients need us and many of our major clients have substantial operations in the region.”

However, opening on the island, which has been discussed as a potential 51st state of the United States, has been pegged as an unusual move by some.

“I’m not sure what advantages there would be to having an office on the ground in Puerto Rico,” commented one Latin America expert. “Puerto Rico has a very tight-knit legal community and there are already a large number of US-qualified lawyers working there. The timing is unusual because the economy isn’t doing so well, but perhaps they think this means there will be an increase in demand for employment law advice.”

Although this is technically the firm’s first office outside of mainland America, the firm formed an alliance with five European employment and labour law boutiques in 2011, creating a global employment alliance under the name L&E Global.