Flávio has a bachelor of laws degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (2003) and a master of laws degree from Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago, focusing on real estate and business law (2010). He was an international associate at Duane Morris LLP in New York (2012), working in the firm’s Latin America practice. He is a member of the legal board of the Civil Construction Industry Union of the state of São Paulo.
Describe your career to date.
I started working, as an intern, in litigation. After graduation, I decided to move to real estate. This decision, at the time, was influenced by two main factors: first, the challenge that arose in the firm where I worked to start, from scratch, the real estate law department (which later proved to be a successful endeavour, both for me and the firm); and second, my family history of deep involvement with the real estate industry – my father worked for several years as an officer in a renowned Brazilian real estate developer, and my two brothers also followed the same path (they currently lead an investment firm in the real estate market). Today I can say this change was a wise decision for my career, and I currently have more than 15 years of experience in real estate. Since then, I have worked on countless real estate transactions, assisting clients in structuring and negotiating real estate deals in the Brazilian market. I also represent clients in real estate-related litigation in Brazil.
What is it about practising real estate law that you enjoy most?
What I most enjoy about real estate law is the fact that transactions are very dynamic and need to be relatively fast because of market conditions and their commercial viability, in which the lawyer plays a crucial role in negotiating legal and commercial conditions, for closing the deals. Moreover, after some time, you can see the real estate project completed and built, and know that, in some way, you were part of it and contributed to make it viable. This is very rewarding.
What do clients look for in an effective real estate lawyer?
I believe that clients look especially for the following in an effective real estate lawyer: confidence (in having safe legal advice); skill and care in negotiations and mediation of the interests involved (proposing solutions to deadlocks); responsiveness; and, along with all that, a business-oriented approach. In short, a lawyer who is concerned with getting the deal done, resolving conflicts of interest, and always acting with the client’s interest in mind.
How has your previous experience as an associate in New York enhanced your work with international clients?
The international experience I had (both studying in Chicago and working in New York) was outstanding and enriching, and definitely provided me with a valuable background. It was very interesting to get to know the point of view and the concepts practised abroad, and incorporate this approach to my practice in Brazil. This certainly provides me with a solid background to better understand the needs of international clients and properly address that in their business transactions in Brazil.
What makes Desio Senra Advogados stand out from its competitors in the market?
Since we have decided to adopt the format and concept of a boutique firm in Brazil, I think that what makes us stand out from other Brazilian firms in the market is mainly the close and personalised client service we provide, offered directly by the firm’s partners to its clients. We definitely want to be in a position equivalent to that of a “trusted advisor” – as referred by British-American author and professional service firms’ expert and consultant David Maister – for the various demands of our clients.
How has covid-19 affected the real estate sector, and how has your practice adapted?
In the beginning, we noticed a certain downturn in the real estate market, as its players preferred to initially observe and understand the perspectives regarding the impact of the pandemic. However, fortunately, from what we saw in our firm, this scenario soon changed, and clients went back to business, betting on a fast economic recovery after the pandemic. In addition, there are other factors resulting from the pandemic that end up having a positive influence on the real estate market: residential real property (whether for purchase or rental) has gained greater significance; commercial properties (offices, shops, restaurants and shopping centres) will need to readapt their layouts using more space; and so on. In other words, in the end I believe that, conceptually, every square metre of real property units will be even more valued.
How do you see your practice developing over the next five years?
I see our practice growing and expanding in the coming years, with an additional special focus on advising investors in the real estate market, as we have several family offices in our client portfolio. Additionally, owing to the technological developments that we are currently experiencing and the increasingly widespread use of artificial intelligence for certain legal demands, we believe that there will be a precious space for more personal, tailor-made legal advice, which cannot be filled by artificial intelligence. This is exactly where we want to be.
What advice would you give to younger lawyers starting out in real estate law?
Always be curious and interested in understanding the specifics of the business and the clients’ needs. Show clients that you care about them. On top of that, be tirelessly dedicated to the practice and to provide a high-quality client service. By doing so, you will certainly become an excellent real estate lawyer.
Flávio Senra has more than 15 years of experience in real estate. He has worked on many real estate transactions, assisting clients in structuring and negotiating real estate deals in the Brazilian market, and representing them in related litigation.
Flávio has a Bachelor of Laws degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (2003) and a Master of Laws degree from Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago, focusing on real estate and business law (2010). He also holds a specialist certificate in real estate law from Universidade Secovi-SP (2005).
He was an international associate at Duane Morris LLP in New York (2012), working in the firm’s Latin America practice.
He is a member of the Brazilian Bar Association, and the legal board of the Civil Construction Industry Union of the State of São Paulo.
Flávio has been recognised as a highly skilled professional in his area of expertise by several specialist publications, such as Who’s Who Legal and The Legal 500. Flávio is ranked as one of the most admired real estate lawyers in Brazil and worldwide.