Juliano Okawa is a founding partner at Madrona Advogados. He holds a postgraduate degree in tax law from the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo. Juliano specialises in tax law and has an outstanding track record in the area of tax consulting, with an emphasis on tax planning and corporate restructuring. His experience includes over five years working for one of the Big Four audit firms, where he actively worked on tax planning, privatisations and corporate restructurings, as well as financial operations and capital markets. His practice includes administrative tax litigation and succession and estate planning. He is a member of the Superior Council for Legal and Legislative Affairs of the Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo (CONJUR/FIESP), the International Fiscal Association and the Brazilian Association of Financial Law.
Questions & Answers
Thought Leaders 2018 - Interview with Juliano Rotoli Okawa
Why did you decide to become a lawyer and specialise in tax law?
Since the beginning of my career, I’ve always had an affinity for tax law because to me a tax lawyer has to have solid knowledge of all areas of law and also accounting, so we have to be really well-rounded lawyers. I got into my first internship in the tax area when I was in my second year of law school and I haven’t stopped since.
What characteristics make for a successful tax lawyer in your opinion?
Like I said, a tax attorney has to have a deep understanding of other practice areas and accounting rules. Also, tax laws change constantly, so we have to keep up to date. We need to know how to apply theory to everyday matters, which includes making calculations to assess tax burdens.
What has been your biggest achievement and why?
My biggest achievement is definitely building a tax practice that has been gaining more and more respect in the market. It’s just so great to be able to contribute to our firm becoming a full-service firm. Our success comes from the work my partner Igor Souza and I have been conducting with our tax team.
Why do you think Brazil has a reputation for being one of the most complex for tax compliance? What are the biggest challenges for your clients?
Our tax system has several laws that constantly change. There are several tax obligations that require taxpayers to have teams of many people dealing with tax assessments and tax filings, which makes things very complicated for companies.
How could Brazil’s corporate tax system be improved, in your opinion?
Our country needs to have simpler tax rules and fewer accessory obligations.
What would you say has been key to your success and what advice would you give to a young lawyer starting his or her career?
It is just so important to keep an eye on changes to legislation, and to know how to take advantage of them to benefit clients. It’s also important to be able to work with someone with whom you can collaborate and learn from, as well as building a professional and trusting relationship with your teammates.
Legal departments working in today’s challenging marketplace are becoming increasingly demanding of their law firms. How has the firm adapted to address new client needs?
Our team is constantly looking for what’s new out there and we have been building an even stronger team with experienced attorneys. We collaborate not only among ourselves, but also with our other practices within the firm, so we’re prepared to deal with the demands of our clients. We’re a very client-focused firm and we really understand our clients’ businesses in the various sectors, and we feel ready to take on new and complex challenges.
What are your priorities for the firm over the next five years?
We’ve been working towards becoming a premium full-service firm with a team of people who are happy to work here, so we provide our team with an environment to grow and learn. A happy team also makes for good, creative work that leads to better results for our clients.