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L O Baptista Advogados
Corporate and arbitration specialists
The legacy of founder Luiz Olavo Baptista, who passed at the age of 81 in 2019, can be seen clearly at this firm. Batista’s sophisticated approach to legal services is proudly nurtured. The firm takes a conservative approach to growth and its lawyers put personal contact with clients above highly institutional relationships. The firm also values a healthy work life balance, encouraging lawyers to take time off to pursue academic goals. This is not in detriment of high-quality service; the focus, the firm assures, is quality over quantity.
L O Baptista has found its place in the Brazilian market, sitting among the best arbitration and litigation firms. Lately, it has experienced a spike in public contracts disputes, as the regulatory landscape for private-public partnerships comes under scrutiny in Brazil. The firm saw the departure of two arbitration partners recently, one to open a boutique with which L O Baptista maintains an informal relationship. Another partner left to work as an arbitrator. L O Baptista says both departures were negotiated in advance and its senior team was ready to fill the gap, while providing more opportunity to the younger generation to develop their skill set.
It also has busy corporate, trade and labour practices and has been strengthening its relationships with Chinese clients. L O Baptista’s leaders have placed their bets on a surge in infrastructure projects, which are long overdue in Brazil and are expected to finally materialise in 2020. This will benefit the firm, which has a wealth of experience in administrative law matters. The firm has invested in its infrastructure and data protection practice groups, two newer areas of focus, and added private wealth to its service offering with the hire of a wealth management partner from Mattos Filho, Veiga Filho, Marrey Jr e Quiroga Advogados.
The firm launched a pro bono group in late 2019.
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: Mauricio Almeida Prado, who is also a professor and was a visiting scholar in universities in the US and France, and Fernando Marcondes, who is founder and former president of the Brazilian Institute of Construction Law and former vice-president of the Rio de Janeiro section of the infrastructure law commission of the Brazilian Bar Association. Marcondes and Rafael Francisco Alves are recommended in LACCA Approved, a survey of in-house counsel published by the Latin American Corporate Counsel Association, which is affiliated to Latin Lawyer. Paulo Macedo Garcia and Adriana Braghetta left the firm in 2019 and 2020, respectively.
Analysis: L O Baptista’s arbitration department includes several partners who are well respected in this field. The firm recently assisted on an arbitration between several Brazilian companies and banks relating to the alleged breach of a share purchase agreement. The team has been active in arbitrations in the energy and construction industries.
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 group is held in high regard by clients and rival firms for its considerable experience on cases involving corporate and international trade elements. Civil class action suits, enforcement suits and administrative proceedings involving environmental litigation, have also kept the lawyers busy. A broad client list includes foreign and domestic companies from the technology, construction, energy and retail sectors. Examples of work include helping a Brazilian conglomerate obtain a preliminary injunction against a contractor requiring it to execute urgent repairs in a power plant. A toy store franchise manager hired the firm for advice in separate cases disputing the validity of arbitration clauses in its franchise contract.
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: Long-standing team member Vieira wins positive reviews from clients 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. Both make this a well-regarded and qualified practice group competing with larger firms for big-ticket work.
Corporate and M&A
Key partners: Daniela Zaitz 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 targets 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. Clients profess themselves to be extremely satisfied with the service provided by the team. With a new partner in Beijing, the firm can work on mandates involving Chinese businesses in Brazil and Brazilian companies investing in China. L O Baptista has recently handled work in the start-up arena as it helped e-commerce platform VTEX obtain a loan from Softbank.
Most recent deals
Key partners: Daniela Zaitz heads the practice group.
Analysis: L O Baptista’s international trade practice group boasts a fine pedigree, having cut its teeth advising the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for four years, including before the WTO. The team maintains a productive working relationship with the ministry and regularly interfaces with it on behalf of foreign and local clients.
Key partners: Fábio Chong de Lima, who handles hires and dismissals of high-profile company directors.
Analysis: L O Baptista’s labour practice provides consultancy and litigation services to clients drawn from the construction, energy and retail sectors, among others. The firm recently helped a European logistics company and a bank win separate cases brought by service providers claiming recognition of an employment relationship. It also defended 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).