City focus - Overview in Brazil

The Legal 500 City Focus section assesses the work undertaken by law firms with offices outside of Brazil’s main economic centres by shedding light on thriving local markets, from Manaus in the North to Porto Alegre and Curitiba in the South, via Brasília, Belo Horizonte, and Recife and Salvador in the Northeast.

Though primarily the home of regional and local outfits, these flourishing cities have, over the years, become attractive to well-known São Paulo-headquartered firms, which have established new operations to address the distinctive characteristics of local business culture. In contrast, several firms which originally emerged outside of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have expanded nationally, gaining prominence in the wider Brazilian legal market.

The heart of Brazil’s political life, Brasília hosts the country’s higher courts – the Federal Supreme Court and the Superior Court of Justice – as well as several regulatory and governmental bodies, such as the Brazilian Competition Authority (CADE), the Brazilian Administrative Council of Tax Appeals (CARF) and the Federal Court of Accounts (TCU). The proximity of the superior courts and relevant governmental entities has long made the Federal District a national hub for litigators, public law and tax specialists, as well as a key spot for government relations advisory services.

Connecting the centre west and northeast regions to the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte is best known for its natural resources and mining industries. The city is home to many of the country’s most renowned mining specialists, who are well versed in large projects, regulations and high-stakes disputes. Owing to its buoyant technology and start-up scene, Belo Horizonte’s M&A market remains dynamic. Transactional activity is also fueled by the construction, automotive and steel sectors, all of which remain strong. Other notable practice areas include tax, dispute resolution, environmental law, finance and labour law.

In the prosperous south, our coverage includes Porto Alegre and Curitiba, the capitals of the Rio Grande do Sul and Paraná states, respectively. The agribusiness and manufacturing sectors continue to hold significant weight in both economies; in addition, Porto Alegre’s strong services market and Paraná’s solid automotive industry further generate growth. Disputes, succession and wealth planning, M&A and tax-driven instructions keep lawyers in the region busy.

Northeastern Brazil, a popular tourist destination noted for its cultural and historical significance, has attracted growing attention on account of its significant renewable energy potential. While generally viewed as one of the poorest regions in the country, the northeast is an important hub for several industries, including agriculture, oil and gas, manufacturing and retail. Our research focuses on Recife and Salvador, where lawyers specialised in corporate, tax, labour law and litigation can be found.

Manaus, the capital of Amazonas, sits in the north of the country. Originally established with the aim of fostering regional economic development, the Manaus Free Trade Zone – which houses the production line of more than 600 companies – generates a steady flow of advisory and contentious mandates in the manufacturing, automotive, pharmaceutical and electronic sectors for law firms in the city. Its proximity to the Amazon rainforest also makes it a hotspot for tourism.