Our Team

Jefté David Zúñiga Jiménez

Born and raised in Costa Rica, David has worked in real estate legal matters since 2000, and opened his own law practice in 2008. Before he became a lawyer, David worked in many disciplines including construction, business and real estate where he owned a successful real estate and management company. As part of his licensing requirements David practiced for two years as a honorary law graduate at the prosecutor’s office in the San Isidro Judicial System, gaining valuable experience in criminal law. He lived and worked in Virginia and the East coast of the United States for more than six years where he gained a deep understanding of U.S. culture, business practices and way of thinking. During his time in law school, David also worked with several local lawyers. His knowledge of foreign people’s needs and expectations helped to significantly grow his law practice. Seeing a need, David began offering services to foreign people doing business in, and moving to Costa Rica specializing in real estate and immigration law, advising foreigners on their investments and relocation to Costa Rica.

David started his own practice in downtown San Isidro – Costa Rica’s fastest growing city – in 2008, dealing mostly with large companies, financial institutions and local businesses and people, working primarily on loans, mortgage structures and registration of new businesses. In 2012 he moved his practice to Puntarenas Barú, which is where he and his wife Gabriela practice to this day. Since his move in 2012, he has specialized in real estate law and Immigration, where he brings the knowledge he accumulated after many years working in real estate.

Because of his experience in real estate and the many complexities of buying, owning, selling and developing property in Costa Rica, David´s skills allow him to specialize in performing thorough property contracts and completing a thorough due diligence process, in order to identify potential liabilities so that his clients can make informed, safe decisions and ultimately buy the property that is right for them.

Always looking for ways to bring new skills to his practice, David is presently a third year architecture student, deciding to go into this area of study as it would help him to help his clients when developing property, which has become a large part of his business. Working with contractors, engineers and architects on a daily basis, David felt that having a deeper understanding of architecture would be an asset that he could bring to his present and future clients.

David and his business partner and wife of fourteen years Gabriela, are active members of the community. Family values are very important to them. They have a practice built on honesty, integrity and respect. Doing the right thing and building a solid foundation for his business is important as it reflects David and his wife’s personal beliefs. They are working to build a practice that they will be proud to pass on to their children so they can continue to serve their community, and be ambassadors representing their wonderful country for many years to come.

“Every real estate deal is a challenge, when a client has found his dream, it becomes our job to make it happen, in a simple, efficient and secure way. DZJ”.

Contact David at david@tropicolegal.com

Gabriela Meléndez Naranjo

Gabriela has always had two passions, mathematics and helping people. She has incorporated both into her career as an accountant and now, a lawyer. Gabby was born and raised in Costa Rica, spending much of her childhood in Uvita where she is still a prominent member of the community. She then lived for many years in San Isidro, one of the fastest growing cities in Costa Rica. She understands the Southern Pacific region, the people and all the nuances of living in this part of the country. She believes strongly in community, and as a result knows everyone; from working people to business owners, bankers and officials in government. She understands that when foreigners relocate to Costa Rica they are looking for community, and that they want to live in a place where people know and care about each other. Because this is so important to Gabby and David, they work hard to make those connections for their clients and help them adjust to their new culture and settle into their new lives in Costa Rica.

Gaby enjoys working with a team and has a close relationship with her coworkers, considering them her family. There is a definite family atmosphere at the office, which is important to her. When anyone in the firm begins a project they sit down as a team to discuss it and review it through every step. As a team they rely on each other’s expertise, combining everyone’s talents and making sure that nothing is missed and there are no mistakes. They are a family, as well as each other’s checks and balances which means that projects are completed quickly and thoroughly by the entire team, rather than just one person.

Gabriela is a registered accountant and has been practicing since 2007. Gabriela’s knowledge of accounting is an invaluable asset at the firm, as there are many aspects of the law that depend on a deep knowledge of accounting and financial practices. Many people don’t realize that when doing things like creating a new business, there are specific methods and practices that must be established. The accounting methods for each type of business vary, so Gabriela’s knowledge of financial matters is a bonus to her clients, and because of her expertise, the firm is able to offer a more robust list of services to their clients. One of Gabriela’s many strength’s is that she is able to organize a case for a client seeing potential problems that may arise in the future that someone without her knowledge of accounting might miss. When Gabriela realized how interconnected accounting and the law were, she decided to attend law school which she began 5 years ago, finishing her degree in December 2016. Gabriela’s specialty is her knowledge of how to organize the financial structure of a new business entity – which is a complex process – so that it is built on a solid foundation and allows the business to run smoothly and without problems no matter what kind of business it conducts or how it may change in the future.

Gabriela has two daughters and is expecting her third child in a few months. She is dedicated to her family, and the business she owns with her husband. She and David work hard to impart their values to their children and are building their business of a solid foundation of honesty, integrity and respect in hopes that their children will someday take over and continue their legacy. Gabriela and David make an excellent team, each having complementary skills and talents. They have been married for fourteen years, and have worked together the entire time . Their commitment to each other and their business is obvious once you meet them and see how passionate they are about helping people.

“My daily goal is to provide an integral bridge between Costa Rica’s business practice and our clients and friends’ needs, in order to help them achieve their Pura Vida. GMN”.

Contact Gabriela at gaby@tropicolegal.com

Michael D. Lawrence

Michael is a CPA from Texas and has been practicing for the past 50 years.  For the last 5 years, he has been practicing in Costa Rica helping US citizens to comply with IRS requirements, as penalties for non-compliance can be substantial. Michael helps his clients with various forms, such as; Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR), informational returns for foreign corporations owned by a US citizen, various forms regarding foreign financial information relative to a person’s personal tax return, and sale of a residence in a foreign country. He also helps to determine the requirements for which income gets to be excluded from US income taxes, as well as which income does not and any foreign tax credits available to a person for income coming from Costa Rica.  Michael’s objective is to help his clients to pay the least amount of income and payroll taxes. After 5 years in Costa Rica and a long career as a CPA in the United States, he has been able to achieve that objective for many taxpayers.

Contact Michael at uscpamike@tropicolegal.com