Just weeks after the February 11 announcement that Ricardo Cevallos was parting ways with Consortium El Salvador, Cevallos has helped open Costa Rican firm BLP’s office in El Salvador. The development marks a major step in expanding the regional presence of the firm, which already has offices in San José and Los Sueños, Costa Rica.

Cevallos founded Delgado & Cevallos in 1998, and in 2005, he helped launch the Consortium office in El Salvador. He represents mostly U.S.-based clients doing business in El Salvador and elsewhere in Central America, and local clients making deals in the U.S., and he has served as counsel and arbitrator in local and international matters.

“When you’re regional, you can have access to a wider market and a stronger client base,” Cevallos said. “BLP has a lot of experience in the market and has developed a culture and a strategy that has served them well, which is why they are able to grow so much in a decade without sacrificing quality. They were an ideal candidate because we share views on where to go and how to get there and that was very important to me. They’re excellent attorneys and have sustained in a very competitive Costa Rican market.”

Ronald Lachner, the BLP partner overseeing regional expansion, said the decision to spread the firm’s wings is highly strategic.

“Our clients have always demanded regional work,” he said. “Expanding into the region has been a target, but not an obsession. We have not rushed to set a flag in each country. In El Salvador, this came as a great opportunity when Ricardo Cevallos decided to leave Consortium. Ricardo shares BLP´s core values and has a great reputation both in El Salvador and abroad. We therefore decided to move forward and establish the Salvadoran office.”

On February 4, the firm announced the opening of an office in Nicaragua led by Ernesto Rizo, formerly of Núñez Rizo Zambrana.

BLP says having a branded presence in the five Central American countries is its goal.

“We have good relations and ties with excellent law firms in Guatemala and Honduras and we will continue to rely on their good service in those countries,” Lachner said. “Nicaragua and El Salvador came as opportunities we couldn´t afford to miss. Our eyes are open and if an opportunity arises to partner with talented and energetic professionals who fit into our culture, we will certainly explore the options.”

The El Salvadoran office will open in April. For now, only Cevallos will be a partner. Already confirmed to be a part of the team is Luis Vega, former senior associate at Consortium – El Salvador. Vega specializes in corporate law, consumer protection, and administrative procedures. The office will focus on corporate, commercial, M&A, banking and finance matters.

“When I was analyzing everything, their name came up, and when I contacted them they were thinking about regionalizing so it was the perfect moment,” Cevallos said. “I can bring more value to the table because of my experience with Consortium and my place within the local market.”

While acknowledging the competitiveness of the Salvadoran market, Cevallos says he remains hopeful.

“El Salvador is a small market and it is hard to compete, but I feel there is still room for another strong player,” he said. “It’ll be difficult but not impossible and I am looking forward to it.”