Add Haynes and Boone to the ever-growing list of international law firms vying for a slice of the work in the emerging market of Brazil. The Dallas-based firm and Rio de Janeiro’s MMA Lawyers are set to announce Tuesday that they have begun practicing under a cooperation agreement finalized in February. In keeping with Brazilian bar rules, the firms will remain independent, and Haynes and Boone lawyers will not practice Brazilian law.
Timothy Powers, a member of Haynes and Boone’s board of directors and the partner who oversees the firm’s international practice, says the two firms were introduced through a mutual contact about 18 months ago. "We went through a long, long courtship to make sure that [this made sense] from a cultural perspective and from a strategic perspective," Powers says.
MMA Lawyers is headed by managing partner Marcelo Mello, who worked for nearly two decades as the international legal division manager for state-owned Brazilian oil company Petrobras before founding the firm. Although the MMA Lawyers website currently lists only five lawyers, Powers says the firm is making additional hires from companies and other law firms that will ultimately brings its head count to 11 attorneys.
As previously reported by The Am Law Daily, Brazilian and international firms practicing in exclusive associations have faced the scrutiny of the Brazilian bar, with some opting to sever formal ties rather than deal with the regulatory hassle. Linklaters ended its alliance with Sao Paulo–based Lefosse Advogados in October of last year after having a cooperation agreement with the firm in Brazil since 2001. And as The American Lawyer reported, Thompson & Knight saw a similar cooperation agreement with Brazil’s Tauil & Chequer dissolve in 2009 when T&C entered an association with Mayer Brown.
Those developments notwithstanding, Haynes and Boone’s Powers says the exclusive arrangement with MMA Lawyers makes sense for his firm. Haynes and Boone will not be sending any lawyers to Brazil and does not currently have anyone in the process of becoming a licensed consultant on foreign law in Brazil. Powers says the firm will instead focus on representing the outbound legal needs of MMA’s Brazilian clients. MMA, meanwhile, will provide legal services to Haynes and Boone’s international clients as they make investments in Brazil, primarily in the energy, infrastructure, and technology sectors. Powers says that unlike the international firms based in New York and London that have set up small offices in the country geared largely toward working on deals involving the capital markets, Haynes and Boone is "more focused on helping our energy and infrastructure business in Brazil" through the alliance.
The alliance with MMA is not Haynes and Boone’s first foray into Latin America. The firm has had a Mexico City office since 1994, and currently has about 30 lawyers based in Mexico’s capital. Another 20 Haynes and Boone lawyers spread across Texas, New York, and Washington, D.C., also focus on Latin American work. Says Powers: "Our international strategy is to pick those markets that we think we can be particularly strong in. And for us that’s Latin America and in Asia," with a focus on representing Asian clients making direct investments abroad.
According to sibling publication Texas Lawyer, Haynes and Boone had gross revenue of $312.8 million last year, a 3 percent increase over 2011. Revenue per lawyer was $640,000, with average profits per partner of $780,000.