White & Case has become only the second US firm to open an office in Sao Paulo.
The new office will initially be staffed by senior associate Donald Baker from White & Case in Miami.
The Sao Paulo office is the firm's second Latin American venture, joining its 18-lawyer Mexico City office.
A spokesperson at White & Case said the firm intended to add lawyers to the new practice as new business was generated.
James Hurlock, the chairman of White & Case's management committee, said: “The firm's Latin American practice has grown exponentially with the strengthening of Latin American economies. Establishing a permanent presence in Brazil is the next logical step for us.”
According to a study released last week by the World Bank, Brazil's rapid development, along with that of China, India, Indonesia and Russia, is projected to fundamentally change the way the world does business over the next 25 years.
UK firm Richards Butler has a Sao Paulo presence with partner Stephen O'Sullivan based in the city.
David Boutcher, the Richards Butler partner who liaises with Sao Paulo from London, said he was surprised more US firms had not already set up offices in the Brazilian city. He said: “A great deal of Brazilian legal work is serviced by New York firms which must be inconvenient. It would make sense for more to open locally.”
Baker & McKenzie has three offices in Brazil including Sao Paulo, Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro.