Richards Butler looks to cash in on Brazilian boom

CITY firm Richards Butler is taking advantage of the Brazilian economy's resurgence by beefing up its presence in Sao Paulo.

The firm anticipates sending up to three lawyers to the city this year, following the successful 18-month posting of partner Stephen O'Sullivan.

O'Sullivan works from the offices of Sao Paulo firm Mattos Filho, Veiga Filho, Marrey Jr, Moherdaui e Quiroga-Advogados, one of Brazil's top five law firms.

Richards Butler partner David Boutcher, who liaises with O'Sullivan from London, said there was no formal association with Mattos Filho.

“Stephen O'Sullivan works in their offices but he does his own work,” Boutcher said.

“Occasionally he will do some work for Mattos Filho under a fee-sharing arrangement. It's been a successful way of developing a presence in Brazil without having our own, independent office.”

Boutcher said O'Sullivan was generating work for the head office as well as handling cases referred from London.

“About half a dozen of our commercial clients are looking at investing in Brazil,” he said. “And there's a particular interest among South American banks in listing global depository receipts on the London stock exchange, because until last year they could only be listed in North America.”

The London office is also providing support for O'Sullivan on larger contracts.

“We've just completed a re-organisation of a bank in San Paulo where we've done some of the work here in London,” Boutcher said.

Boutcher attributed Richards Butler's Brazilian success to the falling inflation rate. He said while O'Sullivan primarily worked in finance, the shortage of UK lawyers was encouraging more diverse work.

“He is doing work for two of the three formula one Brazilian motor racing drivers, because they're negotiating with a company with international interests,” Boutcher said.

Managing partner of Clyde & Co's Sao Paulo office Stirling Leech said the firm had a successful five years in the country, which could also lead to an increased presence. “We're constantly discussing bringing people down from the UK,” he said. “But there are no definite plans at the moment.”

The Sao Paulo office has five fee earners and six office staff.

“I think we're the only European firm to have an office here,” Leech said.