The African roots at Miranda Correia Amendoeira & Associados run long and deep. Founding and managing partner Agostinho Pereira de Miranda spent much of his formative years in Angola, returning after graduating from law school to practise and teach.
Now his Lisbon-based firm has six offices in Africa through its Miranda Alliance, established because local bar regulations prevent full integration. Both Angola and Mozambique have resident full-time partners, while senior associates staff the other bases in Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and São Tomé e Príncipe.
Miranda also has a base in the Macau Special Administrative Region of China and launched its first US office earlier this year. It opened in Houston to support its oil and gas industry clients and to develop its litigation and international arbitration practices.
The firm has completed a number of liquid natural gas deals and worked on several hydroelectric dams and airport projects.
Last year was one of exceptional growth for Miranda, which included a merger with Lisbon banking and tax boutique Luis MS Oliveira in September, while the firm moved to professionalise its management, hiring Sérgio Bagorro as general manager.
“We’ve doubled in size and turnover every two years so far,” says Miranda. “But I don’t think we can maintain that growth path.”
However, more African countries are in Miranda’s sights for local presences, expanding out of the French-speaking nations to follow its energy clients. African work accounts for around 60 per cent of the firm’s annual turnover, despite two-thirds of the firm’s lawyers being based in Portugal.
“The crowded and competitive market in Portugal is very difficult for any newcomer to succeed in,” says Miranda. “Our advantage is our African experience and we’re targeting more growth there. Certainly, we’re growing faster in Africa than we are in Portugal.”
He lists the firm’s African competitors as Denton Wilde Sapte, Herbert Smith and LeBoeuf Lamb Greene & MacRae. “It’s the international firms with a significant presence in Africa,” he says. “It’s a challenge we accepted, and while we don’t do as well as them financially, the clients expect a certain kind of service which I believe we deliver.”
Miranda is the Portuguese ally of DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, and while the two have close ties there are no merger plans on the horizon as yet.
DLA Piper has its own Houston office in Austin, Texas, and Miranda says the firm was “enthusiastic about our bold move” to open in Houston. “But this was our own decision to open [in Houston], and isn’t in any way predicating a future merger with DLA,” he stresses.
Managing partner: Agostinho Pereira de Miranda
Turnover: $12m (£6.9m)
Total number of partners: 13
Total number of lawyers: 100
Main practice areas: Project finance, foreign investment, international arbitration, litigation
Key clients: BP, De Beers, Maersk, Halliburton, Shell
Number of offices: Nine
Locations: Angola, Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Houston, Lisbon, Macau Special Administrative Region of China, Mozambique, São Tomé e Príncipe