When Brazil made successful bids for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games in 2007 and 2009 respectively, it was a promising emerging market economy. This promise soon became reality: while the western world faltered during the financial crisis, the Brazilian market exploded into the new decade. Brazil was full of optimism that both 2014 and 2016 would showcase their country as a new economic superpower.
After the first of these global sporting events, almost the opposite has occurred. The media has used the 2014 World Cup to focus on the deficiencies in the country’s infrastructure and its recent faltering economic performance; meanwhile, its citizens protest over corruption and the vast sums of money being spent on stadiums when its schools and hospitals desperately need financing. The country’s 7.5 per cent growth in 2010 has all but disappeared; economists have recently suggested it may grow by just 0.97 per cent this year. Reports also suggest that GDP probably hit negative growth in the second quarter, with a poor showing in the retail sector in spite of the recent World Cup drawing in a million tourists. The economy also faces stern criticism: the Brazilian real ranks close to the Norwegian krone, but Brazilian workers earn significantly less than their Scandinavian counterparts. Brazil has been experiencing a price explosion due to the relaxed lending policy of government banks and experts warn of a “credit bubble”. As a result, investor confidence has fallen quite significantly in key areas. Overall, many of those we speak to in the international community feel less assured about doing business in Brazil.
Yet the country still has masses of potential and despite recent criticism it drew in US$65 billion of foreign direct investment in 2013, the fourth-highest in the world. However, experts claim that this figure could and should be far higher. At the start of 2014, President Dilma Rousseff echoed this view when she made her first speech at the World Economic Forum summit in Davos: “Our success in the coming years will rely on partnerships with investors in Brazil and all over the world. My government has taken measures to improve this relationship even more.” In fact, the Brazilian market has been a notoriously difficult one to invest in – to the extent that it even has its own term, custo Brasil, which refers to the increased time and cost associated with doing business in the country. Excessive bureaucracy, corruption, stringent labour laws, poor infrastructure and burdensome taxation are just some of the hurdles to face. The corporate tax system is particularly challenging. The World Bank’s Doing Business report reveals that Brazil is 159th, out of 189 countries, in its assessment of tax efficiency. It also estimates that it takes an average medium-sized company 2,600 hours a year to comply with tax regulations, compared to a 175-hour average in OECD countries. As such, informed corporate tax lawyers are particularly critical for businesses.
Similarly, competition lawyers are in high demand with recent changes to antitrust laws in Brazil’s cartelised economy; this year, one particular case of note was the regulator’s decision to fine six of the country’s largest cement makers a combined 3.1 billion reais for collusion. Both tax and competition law are among the most heavily weighted chapters in our research and we have seen this rise year-on-year. Moreover, investigations law is of increasing importance in Brazil, with many recent high-profile cartel, bribery and corruption cases. The recent introduction of the Clean Companies Act will crack down on corruption and it represents an operational and compliance challenge for companies. Accordingly, we have identified five leading investigations lawyers in a new chapter for this edition. However, in areas where transactional work has slowed with economic growth, the legal market has levelled off. There is plenty of potential in Brazil’s emerging capital markets economy, but it has been a difficult year with equity deals reportedly “frozen”. Global investors have been hindered in their attempts to access the market by the monopoly BM&FBovespa has had over the trade since 2008. However, the São Paulo stock exchange has recently announced the launch of a new clearing house, which will mark a significant step in opening up the equity market to competition, giving new entrants greater access to post-trade services. The M&A market also got off to a slow start last year; analysts claim that the country’s flagging economy, political uncertainty and poor operational performances from certain companies have dented confidence. Accordingly, most M&A deals in the market at the moment are driven by asset-related strategies, rather than being motivated through Brazil’s own economic potential. Another area of note is sports law, which has naturally grown within the country as a result of hosting the two largest global sporting tournaments. This has been reflected in our research with a new chapter identifying eight leaders in the field.
The president’s short-term plans for the country are somewhat transparent. Before the autumn elections the government is trying to improve the country’s mood by giving more and taking less. In May, public spending was 16 per cent higher than a year earlier – and revenues 8 per cent lower. As a result, Brazil posted its second-worst monthly primary budget deficit. Observers point out that policymaking after the elections needs to be far more prudent and more in line with Dilma Rousseff’s promise in Davos. The OECD, in its economic forecast in May, revealed that keeping inflation down will require firm monetary policy action. Disinflation will have costs in terms of growth and unemployment, but “delaying policy action would only raise those costs”. The report claims that infrastructure investment, lower trade barriers and tax reform are all needed to raise potential growth.
The old adage “nothing worthwhile comes easy” is highly appropriate here. Despite the difficulty of doing business in Brazil, the rewards for successful stakeholders are incredibly high. If foreign direct investment continues its growth, the need for good counsel within the country will grow exponentially with it – especially if post-election pro-business reforms are implemented.
This year practitioners continue to report an increase in the number of arbitrations taking place, as well as a rise in the number of arbitration clauses being included in new contracts. As a result of several large infrastructure projects not being delivered on time for the summer’s World Cup, practitioners expect to see an increased workload in the next 12 months and beyond. We highlight 29 “outstanding” lawyers in this field.
Asset recovery is a policy priority for the Brazilian government. One of the highest-profile cases of recent times is the Propinoduto case, in which Rodrigo Silveirinha Corrêa, a former tax inspector and deputy head of the state tax collection office in Rio de Janeiro, presided over a corrupt tax regime for 12 years. In 2003, the Swiss court froze money held in a Swiss bank totalling US$33 million and it was returned to the Brazilian government in 2010. In this developing field of law we identify five “standout” individuals.
The aviation market has been extremely busy over the past few years in preparation for the two major sporting events in Brazil – the World Cup and the Olympic Games. The country adopted an airport privatisation plan at the end of 2012 with three of its largest airports handed over to private operators. This plan is set to continue as the government affirms its desire to put additional airports up for auction as well as plans to build some from scratch. With the accrued revenue, the government hopes to further resolve the infrastructure issues that have marred the country in recent times. There are 18 practitioners listed in this edition.
Despite a slow end to 2013, sources reported an extremely active first half of 2014. The central bank has recently implemented a large portion of the Basel rules, thus entailing a huge amount of regulatory work for banking practitioners across the country. As the amount of regulation in this sector increases, lawyers anticipate greater activity. We feature 14 “first-class” lawyers.
Brazil’s Clean Companies Act came into effect in January 2014 and signals the government’s intention to clamp down on corruption. It represents an operational and compliance challenge for Brazilian and foreign companies doing business in Brazil and as a result the demand for experienced local experts has considerably increased. This year we single out 10 leading practitioners, two more than in our previous edition.
Brazil has a strong securities field compared other emerging markets. Overall, more than half of all corporate debt from emerging markets was raised by issuers in Brazil, Mexico and India in the first quarter of this year. However, respondents have noted that the equity market is “frozen” with a complete lack of high-grade cross-border work, which is particularly affecting international firms based in the country. Reform is almost unanimously advocated, with practitioners looking towards policymaking after the elections to produce the desired results. Nevertheless there is confidence in the market and its ability to raise capital. We identify 35 standout practitioners.
A new Civil Procedure Code is currently being debated in Brazil that aims to promote more efficiency in proceedings and less delay in the issuance of awards. At present, it is not known when the bill will be enacted. Thirty lawyers are recommended for their skills in this sector.
Competition law in Brazil is changing. Lawyers are dealing with an increasing amount of compliance work and many have reported a drastic decrease in merger control cases as a result of reviews being subject to deeper scrutiny. Though practitioners have witnessed a decline in activity this year, we identify 41 practitioners recognised for their “remarkable” work in this key legal sector.
International newspapers have reported heavily on construction in Brazil in the lead up to the World Cup and in anticipation of the Olympics in 2016, with delays in construction of stadiums and spikes in costs just two of the running themes. All this activity has created a very active legal market and we single out four leading practitioners below.
As international companies continue to enter the market with more sophisticated processes and leadership, so the area of corporate governance has become more significant. Practitioners we spoke to highlighted the growing amount of disputes work in this area, especially the emerging trend for shareholder activism. This year we single out 36 individuals who are highly rated for their counsel in this field.
Brazil’s hosting of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games has resulted in an increase in work for immigration professionals. Aside from sports, sources are also anticipating activity in the oil and gas and mining industries, as these sectors continue to grow – thanks largely to the rise in foreign investment. In this edition we list five “outstanding” immigration specialists.
Brazil’s corporate tax laws are prescribed by the Brazilian Federal Constitution, and the current system is particularly difficult for companies to navigate due to its highly technical and complex nature and the regular imposition of taxes by districts, states and the federal government. As such, lawyers must be adept at handling the tax implications of a wide range of transactions in what is a fiercely competitive market. We identify 39 “leading figures” in Brazilian corporate tax law.
Brazil is the 10th largest consumer of energy in the world and the largest in South America. It is also the world’s 12th largest producer of oil, and while the state-owned giant Petrobras still dominates the industry in South America, there are now over 50 oil companies operating in Brazil. The country is also a leader in the development of renewable energy; hydropower generates 80 per cent of Brazil’s electricity. However, the recent scarcity of rainfall and the growth of demand has forced the government to diversify its energy portfolio by exploring non-conventional energy sources, as well as providing improved infrastructure for nuclear and fossil fuels. We have identified 27 leading lawyers providing counsel to clients active in the Brazilian energy market.
Amid ongoing controversy regarding Brazil’s Forest Code, practitioners report a continuing struggle to balance the commercial needs of clients and the demands of environmental pressure groups and regulators. The upcoming election presents the potential for a new president with a keener focus on environmental issues, which could likely make for some busy and interesting years ahead. In this chapter we highlight 18 “impressive” practitioners.
Recent years have seen the adoption of the franchise model gather pace in Brazil, and this has driven demand for lawyers who are able to provide expert counsel to both franchisors and franchisees. In this chapter seven “first-class” individuals are picked out for their knowledge of this work across a range of industries.
In light of Brazil’s recent economic slowdown, the number of troubled companies has increased – and as a result, work for restructuring and insolvency lawyers is growing. Attention has also turned to the 2005 insolvency law, as recent cases have led to concerns that creditors and investors are not receiving the full protection intended by the law. We single out 14 practitioners who are renowned for their expertise in this area.
Following the liberalisation of the insurance market in 2007 the sector has experienced a boom, which has translated into a growing and increasingly sophisticated insurance and reinsurance legal market. Our sources commented on possible legislative developments that would allow for more innovation by companies in regards to products and raise the market to a similar standard of that of the US or Europe. This year we single out 21 practitioners, three more than in our previous edition.
Many recent high-profile cartel, bribery and corruption investigations have focused on activity in Brazil, notably those involving the FIFA World Cup, Alstom and SBM Offshore, as both domestic and foreign regulators focus on the country. Top-class practitioners with knowledge of this area are more in demand than ever, especially with the recent introduction of the Clean Companies Act. We select five practitioners to feature in this chapter.
Unemployment in Brazil is at a historically low level, yet the country still lacks the necessary skilled workers required for its industries. Automakers, construction firms and energy companies are all becoming increasingly reliant on foreign workers. President Rousseff has set goals to boost the number of work-ready Brazilians, requiring employers and local and state leaders to collaborate to anticipate and coordinate their staffing needs. We identify 15 leading individuals practising in this field.
M&A activity continues to be steady and despite concerns that the upcoming presidential election in October will slow activity in the second half of 2014, lawyers remain optimistic. Corporate takeovers in the consumer goods and services and infrastructure sectors are likely to remain the main driver for activity. We single out 40 “first-rate” individuals in this chapter.
The mining sector remains one of Brazil’s major industries, making up 4 per cent of GDP and a large proportion of its exports. 2013 saw the much-anticipated arrival of changes to the mining laws, with maximum royalties due to rise from 2 per cent to 4 per cent, and a simplification of licensing with future licences seeing minimum-investment conditions. In this context, the advice of seasoned legal experts in this field is more valuable than ever, and we select 11 practitioners who garnered recommendations from clients and peers at home and abroad.
The patents market in Brazil eagerly awaits the new reforms surrounding the protection period for patents and compulsory licensing. With a reported increase in patent infringement cases, we list 20 of the leading patent lawyers in the market.
Outbound activity among high-net-worth Brazilians is on the rise resulting in wealth structuring and succession planning work with increasing complexities. We identify the six leading private client lawyers below.
In 2013, private equity and venture capital raised in Brazil fell substantially in comparison with the previous year, largely due to large investment firms focusing on fund investment and reallocation rather than new raisings. Throughout 2014, there has been a noticeable uptick in activity, as limited partners sense that this may be the right time to invest in one of the world’s largest economies. With firms such as Gávea Investments looking to close funds in excess of US$1 billion, there are indications that leading lawyers in the private equity field will see more activity over the next year as the market gathers pace. We identify 11 “superb” practitioners in this section.
Consumer protection remains a priority in Brazil and sources state that there has been an intensification of administrative regulation in recent years. In March 2013 the Brazilian authority for consumer defence published a note relating to state action to be taken in the event of accidents involving products. There is also talk of the powers of the consumer protection bureau being increased, with a bill currently under discussion that could render an administrative decision made by the bureau directly executable in court. In this chapter we select 10 highly regarded practitioners.
Financing work remains strong, particularly in the mining, oil and gas and energy sectors. Despite a recent slowdown as the World Cup takes place, practitioners remain optimistic thanks to the work still flowing out of the upcoming Olympic Games and the “huge potential” that still remains for infrastructure financing. Greater incentive towards using project bonds and debt capital markets has already led to some success and it is expected that these will remain viable financing sources for the long-term future. This year we recognise 27 leading project finance lawyers.
The procurement market in Brazil has had a lot of attention recently with the race to provide sufficient infrastructure for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. However, procurement in Brazil is fraught with legal issues, not least because the country does not adhere to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement 1994. Foreign stakeholders therefore need added guidance on specific Brazilian legislation. Furthermore, the government has altered the bidding rules for projects relating solely to these two host tournaments, which some observers see as a test regime for future legal developments. Certainly, current laws are outdated and there is a need to reform the process. We feature seven lawyers who are able to provide excellent counsel for clients in this market.
The recent World Cup and the upcoming Olympic Games mean that Brazil’s real estate practitioners have seen a heavy workload, especially in relation to hospitality projects. The government hopes these events will help to boost the country’s economy and international appeal and practitioners predict a continued growth in the demand for commercial real estate work in the coming years. Eight “exceptional” practitioners are featured in this chapter.
The Brazilian maritime industry has been growing rapidly due to increased activity in the offshore production of oil. The government also has plans to develop the port infrastructure due to the increase in Brazilian exports and it hopes to encourage private sector participation in port operations with a new law signed in 2013. In this active sector we identify 13 leading lawyers.
It has been a whirlwind year for sports and entertainment lawyers in Brazil, the host nation of the 2014 World Cup, and the pace of activity is expected to continue with the Olympics in 2016. In this sector we identify eight leading specialists.
Through large-scale investments, last year Brazil overtook China to become the seventh largest domestic IT industry in the world; it also comprises half of the Latin American IT sector alone. There are huge revenue opportunities in the telecoms market. According to Anatel, the industry regulator, there are 268 million handset users compared with 46 million a decade ago. By 2018, Brazilian mobile users are expected to increase to 350 million. With the country taking centre stage during the football World Cup and the Olympic Games, stakeholders are keen to invest in this area. This year we have identified 27 leading TMT lawyers.
Brazilian trade policy has been at a standstill lately, due to the upcoming elections. However, 2013 saw the introduction of new anti-dumping legislation aimed at accelerating and formalising investigations. With the first cases drawing to a close, sources are eager to see the interpretation of the new rules. Twenty “outstanding” lawyers are selected for inclusion.
In response to the huge backlog at the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office, an electronic filing system was implemented in 2006 and it is expected to have reduced the trademark examination period from 18 months to nine months by January 2015. With the 2015 International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property annual congress set to be held in Brazil, it is anticipated that the exposure this will provide will mark the country out as an IP centre of the future. We list 28 leading individuals in this chapter.
Since its conception almost two decades ago Barbosa Müssnich & Aragão has focused on providing a broad range of business services and this year garners praise for its particularly strong offering in the M&A field. Overall, the firm achieves a total of 15 listings across 7 practice areas.
Founded in 1948, Demarest is one of the most reputable full-service law firms in Brazil and is ranked among the major law firms in Latin America. Throughout its history, practising in several areas of business law, Demarest has never moved away from its calling to deliver legal services with the highest standard of quality and excellence.
Demarest was founded in 1948 and quickly became a staple of the Brazilian legal marketplace. Its philosophy is based on three principles: talent, work and technology. The firm aims to use these assets to provide its clients with advice of the highest quality and technical accuracy. In this edition Demarest achieves 17 listings across 10 chapters.
Kasznar Leonardos is an IP boutique formed by seven of the nine former senior partners from renowned IP firm Momsen, Leonardos & Cia (est 1919), which ceased to operate in April 2012. Named after senior partners and IP experts Elisabeth Kasznar Fekete, Filipe Leonardos and Gabriel F Leonardos, Kasznar Leonardos Intellectual Property continues to hold a leading position in IP, according to the most prominent legal rankings. All its senior partners, including Denise Dale, Eduardo Colonna Rosman, Gustavo J F Barbosa and João Luis Vianna (who run our prestigious patent department), have decades of experience in the field.
Founded in 1972, Machado Meyer Sendacz e Opice Advogados is one of the “premier” firms in Brazil. It boasts offices in São Paulo, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte, as well as a presence in New York and is home to over 350 lawyers. The firm is especially well known for its involvement in the country’s capital markets, and also boasts particularly strong expertise in mergers and acquisitions, and project finance. The firm achieves 26 listings across 13 different chapters of this edition, demonstrating the range and sophistication of its practices and lawyers.
OVER FOUR DECADES OF DECISIVE PERFORMANCE ON THE BRAZILIAN LEGAL SCENE
Founded in 1972, Machado, Meyer, Sendacz e Opice Advogados is one of the most renowned and respected legal firms in Brazil. Operating in all areas of the law, the firm offers legal assistance to Brazilian and foreign clients, including large corporations across a variety of activities, financial institutions and government bodies.
Mattos Filho Veiga Filho Marrey Jr e Quiroga is recognised internationally as one of Brazil’s finest firms. Headquartered in São Paulo, it also has additional offices in Rio and Brasília and is one of the few local firms with a presence on the ground in the US through an office in New York. The firm is renowned for its work on behalf of domestic clients and for the breadth of its international client-base, and has grown to encompass 60 partners and 365 associates and trainees who are listed 31 times across 16 practice area chapters of this publication.
Mattos Filho, one of the leading Brazilian law firms, enjoys a prominent position in the practice of corporate law and has a reputation for high quality services in various practice areas.
We combine excellence in the practice of law with a creative and innovative approach to offer valuable solutions in strategic and challenging cases. This is only made possible through the efforts of a united and talented team that is fully committed to satisfying the expectations and the needs of our clients.
Tracing its roots back to 1942, Pinheiro Neto has built its reputation on providing excellent legal services to its clients. The firm comprises over 800 members working in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia, and prides itself on its “competitive edge” which has ensured its success in the legal market thus far. In this edition, the firm achieves 54 listings across 25 practice areas, more than any other firm in the research.
Founded in 1942, Pinheiro Neto has played a prominent role in shaping the Brazilian legal and economic landscape. Throughout its existence, the firm has concentrated on advising corporate clients on sophisticated strategic matters, technically challenging legal problems and complex litigation. In order to achieve this, the firm recruits its lawyers from the best law schools in the country and invests heavily in their professional development, not only through strong on-the-job training, but also by means of the highly structured Pinheiro Neto Professional Development Programme. A significant proportion of the firm’s lawyers hold graduate degrees from top local and international law schools, and have spent time working in high-ranking international law firms.
TO BE THE BEST TAX LAW OFFICE IN BRAZIL
Souza, Schneider, Pugliese e Sztokfisz Advogados has a bold vision that demonstrates the team’s commitment to quality, rather than size.
Founded in 2007, and with offices in São Paulo and Brasilia, Souza, Schneider, Pugliese e Sztokfisz Advogados centres its work around three key pillars, in order to offer a differentiated service.
Established in 1976, TozziniFreire has earned a reputation as one of Brazil’s “most prominent and respected” full-service law firms with expertise across a wide range of business sectors, both in terms of advisory and disputes-related work.
Founded in 1972, Veirano Advogados quickly rose to “elite” status in the Brazilian legal market. With over 240 lawyers and four offices, the firm is one of the largest in the country. It enjoys a leading reputation in the market and is well known for the “first-class” service it provides to its clients. As a full-service outfit, the firm attracts a significant number of multinational corporations looking for top legal services across a range of practice areas and industry sectors. Veirano keeps going from strength to strength, boosting its number of listings this year to 39 across 18 practice areas.
It is not possible to buy entry into any Who's Who Legal publication
Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.