The “absolutely tip-top” Humberto de Haro Sanches is highlighted for his “technical and thoughtful approach to private clients”.
Humberto de Haro Sanches is partner and head of the private client practice at Ulhôa Canto, Rezende e Guerra Advogados. He has a law degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo and an MBA from Insper. He has experience as a foreign associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP (2000-2001). Humberto is a member of STEP (Brazil) and the International Academy of Estate and Trust Law, and an international fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.
What inspired you to specialise in private client work?
I started my career as a corporate and M&A lawyer. Over time, I started to dedicate my time to assisting clients with their needs following a liquidity event, where other areas of their professional had been neglected. I started with international tax planning; then evolved to relocation, succession and family law planning; then aviation, artwork collection, philanthropy; and so on. This multidisciplinary approach to law, combined with being close to families and dealing with them in the good and bad times, ultimately led me to find private client work the area so that I would feel realised as a person and a professional.
What qualities do private clients look for in a lawyer?
Outstanding legal skills; the ability to be resourceful and up to date on what is happening in general; some sense of urgency; and forward thinking are among the top qualities expected by clients.
How has the Brazilian legal market changed since you began practising?
The market has changed quite significantly over the past few years. Planning solutions are now quite sophisticated, involving several jurisdictions, providers and advisers. International exchange of information has become a reality and is reshaping the way we think about structures in general. The Brazilian tax amnesty in 2016 prompted many clients not only to report undeclared assets, but also to review their structures. Anticipated information on tax reforms that may become a reality in Brazil will also contribute to the change in our practice.
How have political developments, and in particular tax reforms, affected the type of work you have been receiving recently?
The political instability over the past few years has prompted clients to seek asset protection structures; we have also seen a wave of relocation planning. The current situation seems to be more stable – but the announcement of the taxation of dividends and local closed-end funds, and possibly controlled foreign corporations (CFCs), for individuals and an increase in inheritance and gift taxes brought us a significant amount of work relating to wealth and succession planning. This type of work will remain in high demand.
What impact has the increase in focus on compliance had on client demands and priorities?
We have seen significant changes over the years. Compliance is an integral part of our work. In order to navigate the complexities of the new world, we have been helping our clients not only to be compliant, but also to add intelligence to their planning in order to avoid unnecessary and/or unexpected exposure. As a result, we have advised families in the review of their structures so as to mitigate their exposure to risks, which are not necessarily just legal.
How does your practice stand out from competitors in the market?
Our team was built to provide the full spectrum of legal services that may be relevant to private clients. From local and
international tax to aviation; from family and succession law to philanthropy; and from family and business governance to the set-up of artwork collections, we have brought in brilliant lawyers to work with us. In a single meeting we can address all such matters with a small team, which is quite a unique offering. We are perhaps the only firm in Brazil to have developed such a practice. Our extensive network of lawyers and other service providers is also appreciated, as we can assemble a top-tier international team to assist us with more complex work in a very short time frame.
How do you expect the legal market for private client work to develop over the next few years?
I expect that private client work will continue in high demand. Succession planning is currently in high demand and the tax reforms, with the taxation of dividends and closed-end funds, possibly the creation of CFC rules for individuals, and a rise in inheritance and gift taxes, will generate substantial work over the next few years.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Be a trusted adviser to your clients. They will consult you even for non-legal work, and you may not be able to charge them for it, but if you succeed it will bring new work from them and they will refer you to their friends and families.