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October 18, 2010 10:00 AM

Jones Day Sets Sights on Brazil

Posted by Ross Todd

Add Jones Day to the growing ranks of global law firms setting up shop in São Paulo to chase cross-border deal work. The firm announced Monday that Luis Riesgo, the partner-in-charge of the firm's Madrid office and chair of the firm's Latin American practice, will relocate to São Paulo to open the firm's Brazilian office.

In a phone interview with The Am Law Daily, Riesgo said he and two partners who will join him have begun the process of becoming licensed as consultants in foreign law in Brazil. (Foreign firms are prevented by regulations from practicing local law in Brazil.)

If all goes well, Riesgo anticipates the office being fully licensed by the middle of the first quarter of 2011.   

In opening a São Paulo outpost, Jones Day follows a string of Am Law 100 and Magic Circle firms that have entered the Brazilian market over the past few years. As detailed in the October issue of The American Lawyer, Allen & Overy; Chadbourne & Parke; DLA Piper; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy; Simpson Thacher & Bartlett; and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom have opened offices in São Paulo since 2008. With Jones Day joining those ranks, seven of the eight largest law firms by revenue in The Global 100 will have established a presence in São Paulo. Among the top eight, only Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer lacks a permanent Brazilian address.

Jones Day's Riesgo sounds eager to join the fray in competing for work in Brazil. "Not everybody gets the opportunity to go to the sexiest country in the world," he said. In opening the office, Riesgo will be joined by Cleveland M&A partner Sanjiv Kapur, New York M&A and private equity partner S. Wade Angus, and two associates who are qualified to practice in New York and Madrid.

Riesgo says the firm has been considering a move into the Brazilian market to offer international legal services since he took over as chair of the Latin America practice in 2007. A handful of firms including Link­laters; Uría Menéndez; DLA Piper; Garrigues; and Mayer Brown have entered into associations with local Brazilian law firms to offer clients access to Brazilian legal advice. As The Am Law Daily previously reported, a ruling in September by an ethical and disciplinary panel of the São Paulo Bar Association has concluded that those relationships could breach local practice rules. Riesgo says forming an association with a local firm "was not part of our analysis three years ago, and now with the latest changes we think we made the right decision."

"We feel that we can provide a better service to the client if we're not married [to a single Brazilian firm]," he says.

Partner Mercedes Fernández will take over as partner-in-charge of Jones Day's Madrid office. She is chair of the firm's international litigation and arbitration practice in Madrid. 

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