In 1905 he was appointed secretary of foreign affairs, and in 1908, he held the post of General Consul in Barcelona, Spain. In 1912 he was appointed the Legal Adviser to Panama Legation in Washington which related to the border dispute between Panama and Costa Rica. He tought as a professor of history at the Lyceum of the National Institute until 1921. He also had the position of Professor of Civil Law at the National Law School. In 1917 Alfaro founded the National Red Cross, where he worked as treasurer of the Board. In 1920 he published a book called “The Trust” which proposed the adaptation of the concept of trusting Anglo civil legislation and served as a model for trusting law in several Latin American countries. Between 1918 and 1922 he held the position of Secretary of the Interior and Justice.
From 1922 to 1930, and from 1933 to 1936, Dr. Alfaro served as Panamanian envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to the U.S. In 1926, with the help of distinguished lexicographers and linguists of Panama, he founded the Panamanian Academy of Language, corporation of the Royal Spanish Academy, the Panamanian Academy of History and the Panamanian Institute of Hispanic Culture.
Ricardo J. Alfaro was the President of the Republic of Panama during the years 1931 and 1932, and in 1940 he was nominated for the same post. In 1945 he was appointed the Head of the Relief Mission and Rehabilitation Administration of the United Nations (UNRRA). Later he was a member of the commission led by Eleanor Roosevelt; also he made the draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in Paris, in 1948.
In 1950 he published the first edition of the Dictionary of Anglicism. In 1948 Dr Alfaro was elected member of the United Nations International Law Commission for a period of five years and during the period from 1952 to 1953 he led the committee. From 1948 to 1959 he was appointed Extraordinary Professor of International Law at the University of Panama.
In 1966 Dr Alfaro served as the arbiter of international conciliation and arbitration of the International Olive Council in Madrid. In March 1970 the Board declared Interim Government Dr. Ricardo J. Alfaro as "Distinguished Citizen of the Republic, who was recognized to have statesman attributes and virtues." In May of the same year the City Council declared "Meritorious Son District of Panama” and awarded the Order of the Municipality of Panama to Dr. Ricardo J. Alfaro.