COSTARICA BLOGS – Many of you foreigners living in Costa Rica and reading this blog, will not be as involved in Costa Rican Society as I am, as a practicing Costa Rica Attorney, particularly on the side of doing business and interacting with Governmental institutions and other Costa Rican professionals.

Of course, as my bio at the end of this blog indicates, I was born, socialized, and educated initially as a Canadian, previously practicing law in Victoria, B.C., and I do identify firstly with those Canadian values and patterns of logical thinking and associated behaviour.

Over the eighteen years that I have lived in Costa Rica, I have, of course, become aware of the differences between the basic underlying differences between Costa Rican (Latin) and Canadian (British) social norms.

As many of you will have noticed, “professionalism”, when applied to an Attorneys’ behavior, takes on an entirely different meaning in Costa Rica, in many cases not existing even in its most basic form. Indeed, practicing law in Costa Rica is a significantly different experience than practicing law in Canada.

One of the most profound differences that I have noticed is the important role that “jealously” plays, particularly in the interactions between legal, or other professionals, and persons generally belonging to what I have referred to in some of my previous blogs as part of the Ruling Class, or the “Blue Bloods”.I doubt that this premise would be applicable to the everyday life of a Costa Rican “campesino” (farmer).

In the legal profession, it is quite common to hear lawyers “bad-mouthing” other lawyers and actively standing in the way of their colleague’s advancement, purely based on jealousy. This would be very uncommon and would be considered unethical behavior to be exhibited between lawyers in Canada. Business success in Canada, or the U.S., is promoted and admired with an exhibition of personal pride for another’s success. The success is not thwarted by obstructionism based on jealousy, as it is in Costa Rica.

I first encountered this behavior from fellow students, when I attended Law School in San Jose to obtain my Costa Rica Law and Notary Degrees; this even after attaining the highest academic standing in a class of all Costa Ricans but myself.

I can confirm that I have witnessed that this obstructionist behavior based on jealousy, has continued to manifest itself between colleagues in the legal profession, and other business and Governmental institutions, through my fourteen years of law practice in Costa Rica.

I don’t deny that such behavior may exist between like members of society in Canada, but not nearly to the degree that it exists in Costa Rica. It really constitutes a form of “turf protection” gone awry.

A good example of the reverse thinking which exists in Canada and the U.S., is the U.S. example of the CNN Political Pundit, Ana Navarro, a born Nicaraguan, naturalized as a U.S. Citizen, and now a member of the Republican Party.

She is quoted regularly on political issues in the U.S. and is not in any way hampered in her ability to do so.

In my opinion, no U.S., or Canadian Citizen naturalized in Costa Rica, would ever be afforded this recognition or stature Nationally, due to the overriding premise that jealousy plays in Costa Rica Society.

I know that many of you like to invoke the common reply of, “If you don’t like Costa Rica, go back to your country of origin”.  However, I don’t believe that this is an answer.

Costa Rica, through this negative behavior, is losing-out to a very competitive global market, where the well-being of Costa Ricans as a whole depends on producing the climate for all Costa Ricans to aspire without these obstructionist road blocks.

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Richard Philps
Attorney Richard (Rick) Philps is a Canadian citizen, naturalized as a citizen of Costa Rica. Rick practiced law in Victoria, B.C., Canada as a member of the Law Society of British Columbia, for fourteen years, prior to moving to Costa Rica in 1998. Rick then earned his Bachelor of Laws and Licensing Degrees (Civil Law), with Honours, and a Post-Graduate Degree in Notary and Registry Law, from the Metropolitana Castro Carazo and Escuela Libre de Derecho Universities, in San Jose. Rick is a member of the Costa Rica College of Lawyers, and practices law in Costa Rica in the areas of real estate and development, corporate, commercial, contract, immigration, and banking with the Law Firm of Petersen & Philps, located in Escazu, a western suburb of San Jose. To contact Attorney Rick Philps about hiring him as your Costa Rican Attorney, please use the following information: Lic. Rick Philps - Attorney at Law, Petersen & Philps, San Jose, Costa Rica Tel: 506-2288-4381, Ext. 102; Email: rick@costaricacanadalaw.com Website: www.costaricacanadalaw.com
  • Ivo Henfling

    I too, as a real estate agent, have often trouble with attorneys not accepting my knowledge in real estate matters and on purpose trying to block the negotiations and finalization on a closing. That usually happens because they’re jealous and because my knowledge shows their own incompetence. That’s why we use Rick Philps’ law firm Petersen & Philps for all our real estate closings, when our clients allow us to pick their representing law firm for them.

    • costarick

      ahh…The Blessing!