Scott Schwind has joined Jones Day in Houston as a partner in the firm’s energy practice. He joins the firm from Thompson & Knight in Houston where he was a partner.

Schwind says there are two things that drew him to Jones Day. First, he says the firm has a reputation for client service, excellence and resources. Second, “[t]he fact that the firm opened an office in Sao Paulo in Brazil” and that “the firm has a lot of plans in Latin America; I’m very excited,” he says.

Schwind focuses his practice in the oil and gas industry, especially on cross-border transactions. He speaks Portuguese, Spanish and French, and his international focus has been on Latin America, especially Brazil, and Africa, he says.

“My first experience in Brazil was in law school at the University of Texas,” Schwind says. “I had the opportunity to take a summer school class between my first and second year, part in Mexico and part in Brazil.

“I began to realize that a lot of people who were interested in Latin America spoke Spanish; not many people spoke Portuguese,” he says. “I learned Portuguese and went to Brazil to differentiate myself.”

Schwind says he fell in love with the people and the culture in Brazil and had “ambitious and grandiose visions of going back to Brazil to spend part of my second year [of law school] there.”

“It was something that I know now had little chance of being successful,” he says. “But at the time I was working hard to put the program together, I was young and naive enough to pull it off, and I did, with help from a lot of people.

“I went to the University of Sao Paulo for six months,” he says. “I had the chance to study at a Brazilian law school, live with a Brazilian family and work as an unpaid intern at a Brazilian law firm.”

After returning to the United States and finishing law school, Schwind says he had the opportunity to go back to Brazil and work as a foreign legal consultant at the same firm where he interned.

“I was there [in Brazil] full time for almost four years,” he says. After moving back to the United States, he says he made “dozens of trips” back to Brazil. “Brazil has always been part of my practice.”

Because of Schwind’s fluency in Portuguese, he began working on projects in Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa, where “there is a tremendous explosion of activity in natural resources,” he says. “I never imagined that by going to Brazil and focusing on Latin America that I would end up doing projects in Africa.”

Now, Schwind is based in Houston but says he “will continue to support what Jones Day is doing through its foreign legal consultancy in Sao Paulo.”

“I feel very blessed to be in the position to do some of the things I really love,” he says — “speaking foreign languages, meeting people and working on transactions in an international setting.”

This article first appeared on Texas Lawyer’s Tex Parte blog.