From left: Mario Fornés, vice president of Droguería Betances Inc.; Héctor Reichard de Cardona; Carlos Toro-Sárraga, general manager of Oscar Super Cash & Carry; and Ana María Rivera chat during the anniversary celebration.
Law firm Reichard & Escalera is marking its 40th anniversary with a look at its beginnings, development and tradition of looking ahead.
In 1983, founding partners Héctor Reichard de Cardona, former secretary of Justice; and Rafael Escalera-Rodríguez, full member of the Puerto Rican Academy of Jurisprudence and Legislation, began their journey with a law firm specializing in corporate litigation and transactional work.
Since then, the island has faced great challenges from tax reforms, Civil Code amendments and the Puerto Rico government bankruptcy, events during which Reichard & Escalera has maintained its commitment to its clients and Puerto Rico.
“We celebrate not only the successes and the challenges we have overcome. Above all, we celebrate the institutional maturity and strength with which we undertake the task of the next 40 years,” said Escalera, who also served as trustee of the University of Puerto Rico.
“We love our craft and believe that strong legal institutions are essential for economic development. It is the constancy of our values that has brought us here, our very particular and zealous way of doing things, values on which we will build our future,” he said.
Today, Reichard & Escalera is a full-service law firm with attorneys and professionals dedicated to a diversified practice of law catering to local, national and international clients. The firm represents companies with special emphasis on the resolution and prevention of disputes, as well as corporate and tax matters.
“The commitment, honesty and verticality with which we carry out our work are some of the characteristics that define our great team of professionals, capable of addressing all matters of law with the same rigor and optimism with which we started 40 years ago,” he said.
In 2014, looking into the future of the firm, Reichard & Escalera recruited as capital partners former Puerto Rico Treasury Secretary Juan Carlos Méndez, and Carlos Serrano, former deputy secretary of the Treasury’s Internal Revenue division.
The duo, with vast experience in corporate and tax matters, did not arrive alone, as they brought with them a group of professionals, all women and experts in corporate tax matters, including Claudia Motta, co-director of the Corporations Department; and Alba Joubert-Pereira, co-director of the Contributions Department; and tax consultants Melba Benítez and Liliana Emanuelli.
Shortly after, another woman with recognized legal merits joined the team, Sylmarie Arizmendi, with vast experience in commercial litigation, private education and labor law, who today serves as co-director of the Litigation Department and head of the Labor Practice of Reichard & Escalera.
Constancy in the economic duty of the law
Law has a vitally important economic function in every society.
“Over the past 40 years, Puerto Rico has undergone a great transformation in the field of corporate law, tax reforms, market regulations, profound technological changes, and new commercial and labor legislation, leaving a mark on the lives of all citizens,” Méndez explained.
“However, the passage of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) and the amendments to the Civil Code represent some of the most significant changes during this period of time, and whose scope is of such magnitude that the country is just beginning to understand the implications they have on different aspects of daily life,” said Méndez, who is also a certified public accountant and a lawyer specializing in corporate law, real estate, energy, banking, finance and government affairs.
Constancy in historic moments
“Puerto Rico is a highly challenging jurisdiction in terms of taxation, both in terms of tax administration and its incentive programs. After [the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (Promesa)], it has been more difficult to achieve fiscal policy changes, which are necessary to streamline business management in Puerto Rico,” said Serrano, a specialist in taxes and tax incentives, who chairs the Tax Affairs Committee of the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association.
“However, we have achieved important changes, particularly relevant for foreign companies in the manufacturing industry, such as the mitigation of the excise duty of Act 154 and now working with tax simplification and addressing issues such as the global minimum tax,” said Serrano, who is a member of the Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Governor’s Advisory Committee for Simplification of the Tax System.
The art of constancy
In the spirit of continuity and improvement, Reichard & Escalera commissioned the well-known ceramist and former director of the Art League, Ivonne Pratts, to create a unique work of art commemorating the 40th anniversary. The work is a sculptural ceramic piece, a mixed-ceramic medium that incorporates engraving and drawing techniques.
“It represents a mantle or mattress where our clients have placed their trust for four decades, marked by 40 protruding dots that represent our years of existence and the multiple intense experiences lived during that time,” Escalera explained.
Pratts titled the work, “La Constancia” (“Constancy”), alluding to the “unwavering will and continuous determination to do something and in the way of doing it,” which have characterized the firm in its 40 years in Puerto Rico’s legal trajectory. It will be installed in the law office’s lobby.