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November 7, 2011 5:24 PM

K&L Gates Is Bound for Brazil

Posted by Brian Baxter

K&L Gates announced Monday the opening of an office in São Paulo, Brazil, following in the footsteps of several Am Law 100 and international rivals.

Finance partner Marc Veilleux in New York and corporate and securities partner Alan Berkeley, based in London and Washington, D.C., will move to Brazil's financial capital to advise clients. K&L Gates will operate the new office as a "foreign legal consultancy," which under Brazilian Bar Association rules will limit its lawyers to advising clients on international legal matters.

The office, the firm's thirty-ninth, is the first by K&L Gates in South America, according to U.K. publication Legal Week. The firm said in a statement that São Paulo office will focus on international finance and capital markets, investment management, construction, and project development, intellectual property, tax, and arbitration. The Blog of Legal Times, a sibling publication to The Am Law Daily, notes that Berkeley is a registered foreign legal consultant in Brazil. Foreign lawyers in Brazil are forbidden under local bar rules from advising on Brazilian law or working directly for local firms.

In recent years major companies like UBSVivendiValeKeystone FoodsPetrobrasBTG Pactual, and Kirin have announced billion-dollar deals out of Brazil. Legal Week reported earlier this year that the boom in Brazilian M&A--even of the non–cross-border variety--had sparked an increased demand for legal services. That's led many Am Law 100 firms to open offices in the country, according to an October 2010 feature story from The American Lawyer.

Jones Day opened an office in São Paulo earlier this year, following a string of local launches by other top U.S. and British firms, such as Allen & Overy, Chadbourne & Parke, DLA Piper, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

In April 2010, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy poached a top partner from Shearman & Sterling's São Paulo operation and Davis Polk & Wardwell followed suit this summer when it hired two partners from Mayer Brown's São Paulo office to set up its own shop in the city. Other international firms, such as Eversheds, are also mulling opening an office in Brazil, Legal Week reported last month.

But the recent surge in foreign law firms competing for Brazilian clients led some local lawyers to ask authorities to set new regulations that would curb the influence of foreign law firms, The Economist reported in June. The Legal Intelligencer, a sibling publication, has more on K&L Gates's move to Brazil.

 

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