Pinheiro Neto Advogados has promoted seven lawyers to partner in multiple practice areas, as its newly re-elected managing partner reports an unexpectedly strong year for revenue growth.
The firm promoted four disputes lawyers: Ciro Torres Freitas, who specialises in technology and data privacy disputes; Ana Carolina Carpinetti and Andrea Mascitto, who practise tax litigation; and Eider Avelino, who advises on banking and corporate disputes. Mascitto's practice extends to alternative dispute resolution too.
In corporate, Pinheiro Neto promoted Roberta Bilotti and Joamir Romiti, who both focus on M&A deals, predominantly advising on private equity and venture capital transactions.
The firm made another transaction law appointment. Leonardo Baptista Cruz was promoted to partner in the banking and finance team, where he primarily deals with regulatory banking and corporate finance mandates.
The promotion round took place on 1 January and takes Pinheiro Neto's partner count to 100. This makes Pinheiro Neto one of the top two firms by equity partner count in Brazil. The other firm is Mattos Filho, Veiga Filho, Marrey Jr e Quiroga Advogados.
Managing partner Alexandre Bertoldi told Latin Lawyer Pinheiro Neto performed better than expected in 2018 given Brazil's modest growth (IMF data suggests GDP increased by 1.4% last year) and general elections. Speaking to Latin Lawyer late last year, Bertoldi said the firm was on course to increase profits and revenue by 10% in 2018. "This good result has encouraged us to increase the partnership," he added.
Pinheiro Neto's high partner count is particularly remarkable because the firm rarely makes lateral hires. Still, there have been exceptions to its focus on organic growth. The firm hired Google Brazil's policy head as senior counsel in September, which marked a "paradigm shift," according to Bertoldi. He said that rare hire was "a difficult decision" and required "extensive internal debate".
As 2018 came to an end, the firm also lost two partners who left through the firm's voluntary early retirement programme. Banking and finance and commercial law litigator Marcelo Avancini and corporate lawyer José Olavo Scarabotolo both retired on 31 December after more than 30 years at the firm.
The firm's other major development in late 2018 was Bertoldi's re-election as managing partner for a final term. This keeps him in the position until 2022. However, the firm is already planning for the transition to a new managing partner. In 2020, the firm will elect Bertoldi's successor who will shadow him until it is time to take the reins. "The issue of succession is never easy, but we had a comprehensive discussion to achieve a mature decision," Bertoldi said. He has been part of the firm's managing committee since 2004, and was first elected as managing partner in 2009 when the position was first created.
Looking to the future, Bertoldi expects to conclude his tenure as managing partner in a country that has a healthier business environment. He hopes Brazil has learnt some important lessons during the last few difficult years. "Brazil went through hard times, but what happened to the market was salutary," he said, adding that new anti-graft laws and the successful corruption probes, such as Operation Car Wash, have paved the way for a fairer business environment.
Bertoldi is also optimistic about some of the policies promoted by Brazil's new finance minister Paulo Guedes, who is a strong proponent of market liberalisation and privatisation. "If the privatisations take place, we can expect a much more candid bidding process instead of the rigged system that often prevailed in the past," he said.
Bertoldi also praised the policy changes made to Brazil's national development bank, BNDES. These reforms, which include linking loans from the bank to market forces, are meant to level the playing field for private banks and increase lending competitiveness. "The solution to Brazil's infrastructure gap will be through the market and investments will have to resist scrutiny," said Bertoldi. "This will put an end to the practice of getting a loan because one has a friend or because one delivered a seductive power point presentation [of an unrealistic project]," he added.