José A. Meléndez

José Melendez is recognized for his unique ability to integrate extensive industry and corporate knowledge with sharp legal acumen, a combination that greatly benefits his clients. Beginning his career at The Shell Company, where he spent 15 years in operations and strategy, and later serving as the Head of Legal for a major oil company, he excels in managing complex legal and corporate business challenges, particularly in the energy sector across Latin American markets. 

José currently serves as the Director of Operations and the Head of the Corporate and Commercial Practice Group at Estrella, LLC. In his operations role he oversees the day-to-day operations of the firm and spearheads strategic legal initiatives. His role involves aligning business strategies with complex legal and regulatory standards, focusing on risk management and preventive measures to support the firm’s objectives and client needs effectively. 

As Head of the Corporate and Commercial Practice Group, his deep understanding of the multifaceted legal challenges and opportunities within the business world allows him to serve his clients with a unique understanding of their needs. José regularly counsels clients across numerous industries regarding general corporate matters, mergers & acquisitions and divestment of assets. While navigating complex property transactions, José has honed his skills in conducting thorough due diligence to safeguard client’s investments.  

His experience in the oil and energy sector includes his 15 years at The Shell Company where he developed an in-depth understanding of operational, financial, and strategic aspects of the industry. His technical expertise and industry insight set the stage for his transition to legal practice. 

After earning his JD from the University of Puerto Rico Law School, José shifted his focus to law, applying his industry knowledge as outside counsel specializing in energy matters. He serviced a select number of corporations, handling commercial matters, human resources, contracts, and compliance. His significant contributions included advising on corporate reorganizations and acquisitions such as the purchase of the Caribbean Petroleum Company assets under Section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code in 2010 and the Puma Energy Chevron PR Acquisition in 2012. 

José’s legal expertise deepened as he took on roles that spanned across Latin America, including serving as the Head of Legal for a major oil company. In this role, he managed foreign and cross-border transactions, acquiring extensive experience in navigating diverse legal landscapes and regulatory frameworks across the region. His work was pivotal in developing in-house legal departments and strategic legal frameworks that supported business growth and operational expansion. 

In addition to his professional accomplishments, José is actively engaged in nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs. He is a teaching resource involved with Incubadora Semillas, a business incubator that supports startups in navigating their early stages. His commitment to social betterment is also evident through his work as legal advisor with Casa Sin Fronteras Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to community improvement and outreach.  

Beyond his professional and social endeavors, José harbors a deep passion for DIY projects and classic cars, pursuits that reflect his meticulous attention to detail and appreciation for craftsmanship.  


  • University of Puerto Rico Law School / JD / 2005
  • University of Puerto Rico-Graduate School of Business / MBA Courses – Administration, Organizational Behavior / 1989-1992
  • University of Puerto Rico / BBA – Administration / 1989

Professional Affiliations

  • Puerto Rico Bar Association
  • American Bar Association
  • Meritas Law Firms Worldwide
  • Colegio de Notarios de Puerto Rico

Representative Experience

  • Represented The Placco Co. long term lease with PR government agency 2009
  • Represented Puma Energy CAPECO Asset Acquisition 2011
  • Advised Puma Energy Chevron PR Acquisition 2012
  • Development of Puma Energy Latin America Legal Department 2018
  • Represented Puma Energy sale of Peru business to Repsol 2019
  • Advised Puma Energy Paraguay market exits 2018
  • Advised Puma Energy liquidation bitumen company Chile 2019
  • Advised Puma Energy Regional Asset carve-out 2021

Professional & Community Involvement

  • Incubador Semillas
  • Casa sin Fronteras