Law Firms Quality Rankings 2012

Every spring legal publishers present their view on the global market for legal services. In their so called “legal directories”, they provide information for potential buyers of legal services, ranking law firms and their individual attorneys according to their credentials and experience.

International publisher Chambers & Partners published its global ranking of law firms Chambers Global today.

For twenty years, this large and reputable legal publishing house publishes the leading directories of the legal profession. In their process they select firms based on three steps: submissions put forward by law firms upon request of the publisher; client interviews seeking feedback and lawyer interviews providing peer reviews, both administered by seasoned and objective researchers; and, finally, database research. As a result, law firms and individual lawyers are ranked in Bands from 1-6, with 1 being the best.

According to Chambers & Partners Dutch Caribbean law firms VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne and Spigthoff Attorneys and Tax Advisers are the leading go-to firms in our jurisdiction. These two firms have the desired Band 1 firms status. Spigthoff has been promoted to that status from being Band 2 last year.

On VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne it is noted that the firm combines a heavyweight reputation in the international arena with a substantial amount of work for local public sector organisations. It has a long-standing association with Dutch firm Van Doorne, and foreign counsel value its connections throughout South America. The team has witnessed a significant level of growth since 2010. “This law firm has the size to allow it to take on major work, and to guarantee a good level of quality.”

Moreover, four out of eleven recommended individual lawyers on Curacao are partners of this law firm.

On Spigthoff Attorneys and Tax Advisers the publisher writes that the firm is highly valued for its full-service capabilities, which includes the expertise of a number of specialized tax advisers, and a litigation department commended for its assertive style. The firm is also known for its international outlook, with its Amsterdam office serving corporate clients and individuals in the Dutch market. Sources say:“They understand that clients need advice that is not only legally sound, but that works from a business point of view.”

FIRMS (in alfabetical order):

Band 1

Spigthoff Attorneys at Law and Tax Advisers

VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne

Band 2

HBN Law

STvB (formerly Smeets Thesseling van Bokhorst)

Band 3

SMS Attorneys-at-Law

Soliana Bonapart & Aardenburg

Band 2 is formed by two other well known firms: HBN Law and STvB.

With a short comment, HBN Law is positioned as “having a prominent position in the transactional market, handling a variety of M&A and financing deals. Government investment in infrastructure has also resulted in a number of energy project mandates, and the firm is known for its depth of expertise in litigation too.” STvB is applauded for “its strong focus on international work, advising foreign clients on corporate, banking and financing legal matters”.

Band 3 contains SMS Attorneys at Law and Soliana Bonapart & Aardenburg.

SMS Attorneys at Law is said to be known for its strong practice in local legal matters, and clients are impressed by the group’s connections across the Caribbean. This practice offers a wide range of corporate services, advising on litigation, transactional work, administrative matters and labour law. The strong local element in its client base encompasses a variety of sectors, including banking, hospitality and transportation, while international users instruct the firm on regional investments. Soliana Bonapart & Aardenburg offers a wide range of corporate services, advising on litigation, transactional work, administrative matters and labour law.

Chambers & Partners also annually ranks individuals. This year eleven lawyers receive this honorable praise. Six of this elite group of lawyers come from Band 1 firmsVanEps Kunneman VanDoorne and Spigthoff, with the first having four recommendations and the latter two. All other firms have just one named lawyer.

See below a full overview of recommended individuals:

Recommended individuals (in alfabetical order):

Band 1

Eric de Vries (HBN Law)

Karel Frielink (Spigthoff Attorneys at Law and Tax Advisers)

Frank B M Kunneman (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne)

J M Randolph van Eps (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne)

Martijn Welten (Spigthoff Attorneys at Law and Tax Advisers)

Band 2

Thomas Aardenburg (Soliana Bonapart Aardenburg)

Quincy Carrega (Asjes & Carrega)

Michiel Gorsira (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne)

Focco W Lunsingh Scheurleer (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne)

Mirto Murray (SMS Attorneys at Law)

Willem Van Bokhorst (STvB (formerly Smeets Thesseling van Bokhorst))

1.Source is Chambers and Partners webpage

All comments on recommended individuals:

Karel Frielink (Spigthoff Attorneys at Law and Tax Advisers) is described by clients as “very knowledgeable and incredibly responsive.” Clients say he is “always excellent in securities.”

Martijn Welten (Spigthoff Attorneys at Law and Tax Advisers) is dubbed by clients as “one of the best commercial lawyers on the island.” He is “very fast and very practical, and his way of thinking is crystal clear. He also presents himself very well in negotiations.”

Frank Kunneman (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne) is Professor of Civil Law at the University of Curaçao, and sources say his academic pursuits “put him in a very good position when it comes to knowledge of government systems and constitutional structures.” This expertise has been particularly highly valued since the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles in October 2010, as clients try to ascertain the impact constitutional changes will have on their businesses.

Randolph van Eps (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne) is highly regarded for his client service skills, as well as his outstanding commercial nous make a deep impression on clients– he is“very creative and very business-oriented.”

Michiel Gorsira (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne) is lauded for his“hands-on and proactive” approach, and he continues to handle matters in the wake of Lehman Brothers' collapse.

Focco Lunsingh Scheurleer (VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne) has been developing a strong practice in securities matters, having acted on a number of local listings since the establishment of the Dutch Caribbean Stock Exchange in 2009. He has an excellent reputation for his wider banking and finance work, and has handled a number of syndicated loans and restructurings.

Eric de Vries (HBN Law) handles a wide range of disputes and advisory matters, and has valuable experience across a range of sectors, including banking, real estate and telecoms. Clients describe him as“an excellent lawyer – I would recommend him to anyone.”

Thomas Aardenburg (Soliana Bonapart & Aardenburg) is known for his international focus, and has considerable experience in corporate and financial issues. His client roster includes a number of trust companies, funds and banks.

Quincy Carrega (Asjes & Carrega) has handled a variety of government work, as well as representing major corporations from Curaçao and abroad in their business activities. Caseload highlights include advising international clients on restructuring.

Mirto Murray (SMS Attorneys at Law) is described as “a very good lawyer - dedicated, and especially client-oriented. He really listens to you.” He is lauded for his market experience and his ability to quickly familiarise himself with his client's business.

Willem Van Bokhorst (STvB) is mentioned for his depth of experience and market profile. He has extensive expertise in international financings.

For last year’s publication, please click here.

16 March 2012

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