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Confident growth from corporate and arbitration specialists
With a keen eye for economic developments, L O Baptista’s leaders have recently placed their bets on a spike in infrastructure projects, which are long overdue in Brazil and now expected to materialise as a result of the new Brazilian president’s liberal stance. The firm hired a partner from a competitor and set up a complete offer for clients in the area that encompasses advice on project finance, corporate, tax and administrative law issues. The firm has also increased its international reach by hiring a Beijing-based partner. Following client demand, the firm established a data protection team and a group dedicated to advising start-ups.
This all comes off the back of two years of substantial revenue growth, after the firm split from its Rio de Janeiro-based partners Schmidt, Valois, Miranda, Ferreira, Agel Advogados. L O Baptista says the split freed both firms from several conflict of interests. Looking forward, the firm is betting on the success of its core arbitration, litigation, trade and administrative law areas to strengthen its tax, corporate and labour teams in the next few years.
Building on the legacy of its founder, Luiz Olavo Baptista, who today is an independent arbitrator, the firm has nurtured the well-being of its professionals by promoting a friendly, inclusive and healthy work environment. Such efforts generally result in more productivity in the long term and are a powerful asset for talent retention. Gender equality is also a natural feature for this outfit as 10 of its 20 partners are women.
Among the high-profile names on L O Baptista’s client list are engineering conglomerate Camargo Corrêa, French industrial component manufacturer Vallourec, Brazilian holding company Grupo Silvio Santos and sugar cane energy company São Martinho.
- Key partners: Practice co-heads Adriana Braghetta, who sits on the board of the International Counsel for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA) and is former chair of the Brazilian Arbitration Committee, Mauricio Almeida Prado and Fernando Marcondes, who is founder and president of the Brazilian Institute of Construction Law and vice-president of the Rio de Janeiro section of the infrastructure law commission of the Brazilian Bar Association. Braghetta, Marcondes and Rafael Francisco Alves come recommended in LACCA Approved, a survey of in-house counsel, published by the Latin American Corporate Counsel Association, which is affiliated to Latin Lawyer.
- Analysis: L O Baptista’s arbitration department includes several partners considered to be among the arbitration elite in Brazil. The firm retained the bulk of the team following its separation within Schmidt, Valois, Miranda, Ferreira, Agel Advogados in 2016. Among these is Braghetta, who has a particularly high standing within the Brazilian arbitration community, not least due to her presidency of the Brazilian Arbitration Association and role as co-vice president of ICCA. She was part of the special committee appointed by the Brazilian Senate in 2012 to reform the country’s Arbitration Act, which was enacted last year. She and Prado earn glowing praise from clients who note the respect afforded to them by their peers; not least for their outstanding performance on international arbitrations. The representative of a litigation finance provider praises the “experienced group of partners” in the department and describes L O Baptista more broadly as a true one-stop shop.
- Work highlights: L O Baptista is assisting on an arbitration between several Brazilian companies and banks relating to the alleged breach of a share purchase agreement. It advised on a dispute between companies in the oil and gas and energy and engineering and construction industries related to a services and supply contract for an industrial waste incinerator and two cooling towers. Lawyers also assisted on an arbitration procedure between two companies related to duties and obligations allegedly not fulfilled under a construction agreement for a hydroelectric power plant.
- Key partners: Practice co-heads André Camerlingo Alves, who has a respected practice including corporate and IP disputes, and André Mendes do Espírito Santo, who also oversees the firm’s stand-alone fashion law practice.
- Analysis: L O Baptista’s litigation practice is held in high regard by clients and rival firms alike for its considerable experience assisting clients on cases involving corporate and international trade elements. Civil class action suits, enforcement suits and administrative proceedings involving environmental litigation, have also kept the department’s lawyers busy in recent years. A broad client list includes foreign and domestic companies from the technology, construction, energy and retail sectors. Canon, a Japanese manufacturer of cameras and imaging equipment, is an example of a long-standing client and hired the firm to handle more than 40 lawsuits before the Brazilian courts. Commercial cleaning franchiser Jani King and BNP Paribas’ consumer credit subsidiary Cetelem are other companies to rely on the team for cases involving the beach or termination of contracts.
- Work highlights: L O Baptista helped a Brazilian conglomerate obtain a preliminary injunction against a contractor requiring them to execute urgent repairs in a power plant it operates. It represented a toy store franchise manager in separate conflicts of jurisdiction between the judiciary and arbitration courts related to the enforceability of an arbitration clause from a franchise agreement; and is defending an engineering company in a claim from an energy company compelling the contractor to provide contracted services despite the former being in default.
- Key partners: Daniela Zaitz now heads the practice after Cynthia Kramer left the firm to become an independent practitioner in 2017. Mauricio Almeida Prado is another key figure.
- Analysis: L O Baptista’s international trade practice can boast a fine pedigree, having cut its teeth advising the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for four years, including before the WTO. The team continues to display a productive working relationship with the ministry and regularly interfaces with it on behalf of foreign and local clients. Two antidumping cases considered by the Brazilian government involved imports of products from Germany and China.
- Key partners: Patricia Agra Araujo, who previously worked at Brazil’s Competition Authority CADE, and Sueli de Freitas Veríssimo Vieira, who comes recommended in LACCA Approved.
- Analysis: L O Baptista’s administrative law practice was weakened by the decision to split with its former merger partner and revert to its legacy formation. Following the division, Schmidt Valois retains the strong oil and gas regulatory offer based in Rio, leaving this firm with a small team based in São Paulo. Nevertheless, this has not diminished the quality of the department. Long-standing member Vieira continues to win positive reviews from clients, particularly those in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics sectors, while Araujo brings more than 20 years’ experience in competition, compliance and regulatory matters into the department, including first-hand experience working at CADE and the now-defunct Secretariat of Economic Law.
Corporate and M&A
- Key partners: Daniela Zaitz, who is a high-profile member of the team and comes recommended in LACCA Approved. Marta Rodrigues and Sueli Vieira are also prominent, the latter for regulatory work. Other key names are Cássia Monteiro, Esther Jerussalmy Cunha and Renata Castro Veloso. Beijing-based Luiz Eduardo Vidal Rodrigues joined the firm in 2018 to target transactional work between Brazil and China.
- Analysis: L O Baptista’s São Paulo-based corporate team built its solid reputation in the market by providing top-quality assistance to a set of loyal clients on a broad spectrum of matters. Following its separation from its Rio de Janeiro former merger partner in 2016, this reputation is undiminished. It is an indispensable partner to host of companies on corporate matters. Clients profess themselves to be extremely satisfied with the service provided by the team. A new partner in Beijing as of 2018 means the firm can work on mandates involving Chinese businesses in Brazil and Brazilian companies investing in China.
- Top deals: Brazilian food manufacturer acquires rival and Chediack and L O Baptista in pyjama retail M&A
- Key partners: Practice head Fábio Chong de Lima.
- Analysis: L O Baptista’s labour practice is based in São Paulo and provides consultancy and litigation services to clients drawn from the construction, energy and retail sectors, among others. Work handled by the one partner and five associate team includes assisting a French law firm on profit-sharing practices in the aviation industry and helping a local client structure a variable compensation plan and successfully negotiate with the workers’ union.
- Work highlights: L O Baptista helped a European logistics company and a bank win separate cases brought by service providers claiming recognition of an employment relationship, and is defending a client in a claim brought by a former company director claiming salary, benefits, bonus and damages totalling almost 21 million reais (US$5.7 million).