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Big-Shot Lawyers Lured by Beaches and 4% Tax Rate to Puerto Rico

More than 70 law firms have relocated to the island in the last decade.

Marc Grossman counts himself as the first U.S. attorney to leave the mainland for Puerto Rico, back in 2014. 

Marc Grossman counts himself as the first U.S. attorney to leave the mainland for Puerto Rico, back in 2014. 

Photographer: Gabriella N. Baez/Bloomberg

Veteran plaintiff lawyer Mikal Watts is beginning to learn the meaning of taking it easy.

After 28 years of grinding away on multi-billion dollar mass personal-injury suits, most recently from an office in San Antonio, Texas, Watts decided to make a change. He's still trying cases, but now he gets a big tax break while working from the back deck of his new home looking out onto the Atlantic Ocean near sunny San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The tax incentive is a controversial policy, one that has created bitter resentment among many on the crisis-ravaged island. But Watts isn't thinking much about that right now. He's soaking up the sun and staring out at the blue waters as he sips a vodka tonic at a ritzy outdoor restaurant.