New York managing partner Stephen Hood and three or four assistants will staff the office as employees of a limited company – which will be known as Clifford Chance Limitada.
The office is being set up as a limited company to comply with local Bar rules. City rival Linklaters established a similar three-lawyer operation, Linklaters Limitada, in October last year.
Hood said: “It is the most convenient vehicle for our objectives in Brazil – we don't intend to practise local law.”
Despite Brazil being widely tipped to be the next victim of the financial crisis in emerging markets, Hood said: “Life in emerging markets is never risk free. We could imagine a worst case scenario. But even then, Clifford Chance has such a strong reputation in Latin America that we will still have a lot of work to do.”
Clifford Chance Limitada will primarily advise government and state-owned entities on privatisation and Hood expects the office to pick up work from foreign investors and post-privatisation M&A work.
Latin America has traditionally been the backyard for US firms, but recently, with their hiring of US securities and projects lawyers, both Clifford Chance and Linklaters have been taking work from them.
In New York, Clifford Chance has set up an executive committee to run the office, chaired by US partner Bob Finlay, head of the firm's US banking group.