Corporate Law Firms: The Brazilian Case
37 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2016 Last revised: 30 Jun 2016
Date Written: January 15, 2016
In the 25 years since 1990, the corporate law sector in Brazil has grown substantially. The number of firms has more than doubled, some firms have reached large size and corporate structure and average firm size increased. At the same time, some law firms have changed their methods of operation, recruitment, and management. Until 1990, the sector was small and largely focused on serving local clients; today it includes many large firms as well as numerous specialized “boutiques” serving both domestic and foreign corporations.
These developments are the result of a major shift in the Brazilian economy and resulting legal changes. In the 1990s, Brazil began to move away from the centralized, state-dominated, and closed economy model that had prevailed since the 1930s. Facing a financial crisis and a sluggish economy, the country sought to revive growth by opening to the world economy, attracting foreign investment, and privatizing many state-owned enterprises. These developments were accompanied by a legislative “boom” that created new areas of law designed to govern newly privatized sectors, attract foreign investment, and stimulate domestic investment. New regulation was passed and gave rise to a need for professionals able to perform in areas such as capital markets, infrastructure, telecommunications, energy, arbitration, competition, mergers and acquisitions.
The changing role of the state and the accompanying legislative boom, along with the increasing presence of national and multinational corporations and foreign investors in the Brazilian market, altered the structure of demand for legal services in the corporate sector. Domestic and foreign clients looked for expertise in the new areas of law. Business lawyers were in high demand by domestic and foreign corporations. Clients, especially foreign companies, looked not only for a high level of legal expertise but also for the kind of lawyering skills that prevail in global markets. People with international expertise and knowledge of global lawyering styles became more highly valued (ENGELMANN, 2011).
As the sector grew, a “new model” of corporate law firm began to take shape. These firms tended to be larger, more internationalized, and more professionally managed than the typical traditional Brazilian firm of the pre-1990s era. The sector has become more competitive and firms have responded in a number of ways, including paying more attention to branding, offering international training for staff, searching for foreign clients, building alliances with global law firms, and up-grading firm management.
Keywords: Law, Corporate law, firms, Brazil
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