Thursday, 12th April 2012
by Clare Bolton
Latin Lawyer 250 country by country: Brazil
Our daily country by country analysis of each of the 20 jurisdictions included in the recently-published 14th edition of the Latin Lawyer 250 today moves on to the region’s economic behemoth, Brazil
Brazil closed 2011 by overtaking the UK and becoming the world’s sixth largest economy, beating expectations by some margin and demonstrating the clear underlying strength in the country’s economy. However, during 2011 there was clear need for caution and concern, as Brazil showed significantly decelerated growth from earlier peaks, and the Eurozone in particular threatened another crisis to pull back progress further.
The country’s law firms have shown themselves sensitive to the wider economic concerns, as growth is certainly in evidence, but of a cautious and controlled nature – the overall market (numbers of recommended lawyers) grew by 8%, but largely thanks to an increase in the number of recommended firms, from 45 to 52. The average number of lawyers per firm actually fell very slightly, and even within the ten largest firms, the average growth was only 3%.
This measured growth is down to a number of factors. Firstly, the legal industry, just like every other in Brazil, is facing a huge challenge in recruiting and retaining sufficiently skilled talent – law schools are growing, but not enough, and there are simply too few good lawyers out there for all firms to grow significantly. In-house teams are growing too, and the competition is fierce.
The group of the ten largest firms demonstrates this well. There are no new entrants to the group, although some significant movements within its rankings. Souza, Cescon, Barrieu e Flesch – Advogados has continued its early and dramatic success, growing at 24% in 2011, with Azevedo Sette Advogados similarly doing well with a 15% rise in numbers. Veirano Advogados is also climbing the size rankings with a 12% growth, while Siqueira Castro Advogados reported an 8% rise and Pinheiro Neto Advogados 7%. Staying a steady size over the last 12 months are TozziniFreire Advogados, Machado, Meyer, Sendacz e Opice Advogados and Mattos Filho, Veiga Filho, Marrey Jr e Quiroga Advogados; while slipping slightly are Demarest e Almeida Advogados, now 8% smaller than last year, and Barbosa Müssnich & Aragão, with a 19% dip in numbers.
The second factor behind the measured growth relates to a slow, but perceptible, fragmentation of the legal market, as traditional management structures struggle to accommodate Brazil’s new economic reality. There are actually fewer firms of more than 100 lawyers in the 2012 edition of the guide than the year before, even though we have increased our number of recommended firms in Brazil by 15%, a notable rise.
These new firms are of varying types – some, like Pereira Neto, Galdino, Macedo Advogados – PNGM or Ferro Castro Neves are firms set up by groups of talented lawyers with a few very successful first years behindyoungDaltro & Gomide Advogados, them, ready to take the market by storm.
Others are long-established boutiques, able under the current economic conditions in Brazil to demonstrate much more easily the kind of high-quality, international work needed to be included in the guide – Carvalhosa e Eizirik Advogados and Milaré Advogados are two such firms. Others, like Almeida e Silva, Gouvêa Vieira, Tanzilli e Brajato, are brand new firms formed as a spin off from a larger firm, ready with an experienced team on board. All of these new firms are providing much stiffer competition to more established firms in the marketplace, and providing clients with an ever-wider choice.
Percentages are based on data from the 13th edition of the Latin Lawyer 250 and information submitted by law firms between October and December 2011.