Legal market overview in Brazil

Political turbulence and controversies have kept Brasília in the news in recent years; protests against Congress and the Federal Supreme Court, encouraged by President Bolsonaro, went ahead in 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic and fierce criticism. Outside of politics, Brasília, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is renowned as an impressive architectural achievement. Designed by Oscar Niemeyer and Lúcio Costa, the planned city was constructed in the centre of the country between 1956 and 1960 during the presidency of Juscelino Kubitschek. As befits a capital, Brasília is home to the country’s superior courts – the Federal Supreme Court and the Superior Court of Justice – as well as important regulators and governmental bodies, including the Brazilian Competition Authority (CADE). Brazil’s judicial system is notoriously slow and inefficient, with individual justices often balancing overflowing dockets. In this sense, the court system is matched by the country’s tax system, also infamous for its complexity. The Brazilian Administrative Council of Tax Appeals (CARF) is based in Brasília, meaning that tax lawyers across the country are no strangers to the city. For law firms, the proximity of the higher courts and governmental entities make Brasília an important place in which to have a foothold, though some firms prefer to maintain their headquarters in the major legal markets in São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro and fly into Brasília as their caseload requires. Advocacia Fernanda Hernandez is a well-established name in Brasília, specialising in complex litigation before the superior courts. Other boutiques continue to do well: government relations and advocacy firm MJ Alves & Burle Advogados e Consultores; public law, regulation and white-collar criminal defence firm Mudrovitsch Advogados; and relative newcomer Ana Frazão Advogados – which specialises in competition and regulation – are active in the market. Meanwhile, many full-service, São Paulo-based firms have set up shop in Brasília, recognising the importance of an on-the-ground presence in the capital city. Mattos Filho, Veiga Filho, Marrey Jr. e Quiroga Advogados, Pinheiro Neto Advogados and Veirano Advogados are among the large firms which have established a successful practice here.