Adriano Chaves specialises in M&A, corporate law, foreign investments, contracts, technology and data protection. He graduated from the University of São Paulo in Brazil in 1995 and completed his LLM at Columbia University School of Law in New York in 1999, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. Adriano is recommended by reputable publications including LACCA Approved, Chambers Global, Chambers Latin America, Leaders League and Análise Advocacia. Adriano is rapporteur of the task force on the B2C General Conditions of Sale for the Brazilian chapter of the Commission on Commercial Law and Practice at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC); a member of the Brazilian chapter of the ICC’s Digital Economy Commission; and a former member of the Commission of Law Firms of the Brazilian Bar Association, São Paulo.
Questions & Answers
Thought Leaders 2018 - Interview with Adriano Chaves
What motivated you to specialise in corporate and M&A law?
I have always found the ability to structure complex deals and bring together different parties very exciting, particularly in cross-border deals, where an understanding of cultural aspects plays an important role. The practice of corporate and M&A law also requires good knowledge of all major areas of business law, which is stimulating.
What has been your biggest achievement to date and why?
I might say that it was founding CGM Advogados with my partners and associates years ago. CGM Advogados is the materialisation of a vision that a group of like-minded professionals had for years about how to best serve clients in an ever-changing environment. The results we have obtained so far are tangible, as we have a very strong group of professionals and an excellent and broad portfolio of clients, ranging from a large number of S&P 500 companies to medium-size companies and international start-ups, covering many industry sectors.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges for companies looking to invest in Brazil? What advice do you give clients?
Understanding the Brazilian bureaucracy and the legal uncertainty in some areas can be quite challenging for foreigners who have not been exposed to Brazil’s business environment before. Opening a company can be time-consuming. Lawsuits can take years and case law is not consistent. The tax and labour systems are also complex and demand time and energy from investors. The reality in Brazil can be quite different from the reality in other markets.
My advice to clients is that they should carefully plan their investments, in light of local laws and business practice, before implementing them. Planning in advance is of the essence to avoid pitfalls and the high cost of fixing mistakes. Understanding the local business culture is key, and this can be better achieved with the support of experienced local professionals. A very common mistake for companies is to simply apply a business model in Brazil that is successful elsewhere, without adapting it to local circumstances.
How can the country’s business and investment landscape be improved, in your opinion?
From a macro legal perspective, the most important task in my view is to reduce legal uncertainty in connection with the interpretation of laws and the ability to enforce rights. Courts and authorities should make an effort to mitigate uncertainty. From a more specific legal perspective, the government should implement the proposed reforms, particularly the social security reform, the tax reform and various measures to reduce the presence of the state in the economy. From a business perspective, our infrastructure needs improvement. This could be reached through concessions and more privatisations.
How do you expect Brazil’s political and economic environment to impact the country’s business sector over the coming year?
The election of a new president at the end of 2018, who defends a smaller, more efficient and more liberal state, generated optimism in the business sector. It is still unclear if the new government will be able to deliver on its promises, including implementing the necessary social security and tax reforms, but my view is that the business environment is already much better than it was two years ago. We are seeing clients starting new projects.
What challenges did you face when setting up your own firm?
Some of the challenges were similar to those of any other start-up: the red tape to have all tax enrolments and permits, delays in being able to issue the first invoices, some challenges in finding new talent, and the need to promote the new brand. However, the core of our group has worked together for a long time (two decades in some cases) and we had ongoing long-term relationships with clients, which mitigated those challenges. In five years we doubled our size through organic growth.
How do you ensure your firm stands out from the competition?
Thankfully, clients have been focusing more and more on delivery and added value, rather than tradition. The fact that our partners and practice areas are very much aligned and have a common view of the legal market allows us to deliver what our clients expect: high-quality, cost-effective and “just in time” legal services. We hear a lot from our clients that they appreciate our “sense of urgency” and creative thinking. Finally, we prioritise long-term partnerships with our clients, which forces us to continually look for as much alignment with the interests of our clients as possible.
What would you say has been key to your success?
Putting our clients’ interests before my personal interests has certainly been key. But going the extra mile to build and motivate a team of qualified people who have the highest ethical standards and who are aligned with the firm’s long-term goals has been equally important. The support and mutual respect of our partners, associates and staff has really made the difference. Finally, the ability to adapt quickly to an ever-changing environment has always been – and will continue to be – very important.