Camila and Tomas Giraldo Bolivar, from G&B partners, are two cosmopolitan Colombian siblings who had no Idea they would end up as important players in Latin America and Portugal’s immigration law as recently as three years ago; a role they took on after coincidentally reconnecting to their Jewish Sephardic roots.
The siblings always knew they had Jewish ancestry, it had always been part of their identity; however, they didn’t really connect to them until a mutual friend insisted they formally investigated their ancestry, just in case they were eligible for Spain’s reparation law for the Jewish Sephardic families that were driven out of the Iberian Peninsula in the 15th century by the Catholic Inquisition.
Camila, a UCLA educated New York Bar lawyer, initially took the process on as a hobby. She contacted a professional genealogist and connected to an Israeli friend over the information the academic passed on to her. “The cultural similarities between Antioquia and Israel were astounding” soon the siblings had ample information that was key in the Spanish citizenship process that they personally completed just last year.
The Spanish citizenship process led Camila to become a genealogist herself; and later, while studying for the Bar, Camila started both investigating as an academic herself and representing close family friends and acquaintances on the Sephardic Jewish reparation process for citizenship that Portugal still sponsors; a challenge seen as previously she almost exclusively worked on the corporate law world in Latin America.
“After just one month, and hundreds of clients in, I had to hire two more lawyers, six months in we were a team of two anthropologists, 6 lawyers and my brother, who handles strategy, finance and who found our allies in Portugal”.
Tomas, the youngest of the two had always worked on strategy and consulting, both for KPMG and the Colombian embassy in Beijing, but blood is thicker than water, so as soon as Camila had enough Sephardic descent clients, he jumped the ship. After growing the team, he says he had the stroke of genius to contact two Portuguese lawyers from Jewish background.
“Some stereotypes about our cultural backgrounds sometimes end up being true, both lawyers took us in as family, more than becoming part of the team that as of today represents more than two thousand clients, they became close friends, and they let us in on the experiences of ‘our people’ in Portugal as they would say”
It was an untapped niche, with an astounding number of Jewish descendants who had lost touch with their Sephardic roots over the centuries in Antioquia, Colombia - along with other
hotspots in Brazil, Mexico and Israel; people like Camila and Tomas had the opportunity to organically grow law and immigration firms in record time. Now these firms are looking to expand their business.
Camila and Tomas are thrilled about the opportunities, with a now robust team they have started requesting the Portuguese citizenship for the underage children of their clients; however, they are also now looking beyond Colombia.
“We have a couple Costa Rican clients, a handful or two of Americans, Venezuelans and Canadians, but we are particularly excited about opportunities in Israel, one of my best friends from UCLA is Israeli and he’s already referred our law firm to some friends. Who knows, we might end up opening an office in Tel Aviv someday”
Along with the Sephardic descent reparation process that kickstarted their business, Camila, who is a certified New York State Bar lawyer has taken this experience to fully dive into migration law; she says about 20% of her clients now look for her advice and representation on investment and migration for the US, as well as several other nationality programs. “It’s swiftly become a cornerstone of the business; and we’re hoping to build it up even more through our new relationships with the Israeli market.”
If you want to connect to Camila and Tomás, you can reach them through their company’s webpage: https://gbpartnersllc.com/
This article was written in cooperation with GB & Partners LLC