Linklaters ditches Brazil ally in light of stringent local bar rules

Linklaters has ended its cooperation agreement with Brazil’s Lefosse Advogados in response to the Brazilian bar’s decision to uphold rules preventing foreign firms from practising local law.

São Paulo
São Paulo

The firm scrapped its referral arrangement with Lefosse in October after the Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil (OAB) chose to keep restrictions that mean a foreign lawyer can only act as a consultant, but not join a Brazilian firm or practise Brazilian law.

Linklaters has also responded by sending New York corporate partner Alberto Luzárraga to São Paulo to head its office there, practising foreign law.

The magic circle firm said in a statement: “Following the interpretation issued by the federal OAB on October 22, 2012, in relation to the regulations applicable to the relationship between local and foreign law firms, Linklaters confirms the termination of the existing cooperation agreement with Lefosse Advogados in Brazil in order to fully comply with the OAB regulations.

“Lefosse and Linklaters will continue working together on client matters and joint opportunities on a matter-by-matter basis consistent with the new OAB requirements. The relationship between Lefosse and Linklaters has been forged over the last 12 years and it remains in good terms.”

In a similar move, Squire Sanders will close its Rio de Janeiro base at the end of 2012, with foreign consultant Timothy Smith leaving the office, after the firm terminated its association with the country’s Derraik Advogados last year.

Norton Rose recently confirmed it was looking at opening in Brazil next year, although regulatory limitations would rule out a merger (16 November 2012).

Lawrence Graham set up a non-exclusive agreement with Brazil’s Motta Fernandes Rocha – Advogados earlier this year (15 June 2012).

For more on the Brazilian legal market and the regulatory regime, see special report