Milena Mazzini has an LLB from Centro Universitário das Faculdades Metropolitanas Unidas in São Paulo; has attended the corporate law programme at Insper; has a certificate in law firm leadership from Harvard Law School; and is currently working towards a master’s degree in business law from FGV. Milena has worked extensively on corporate operations; contract negotiations; mergers and acquisitions transactions; corporate restructuring; compliance; succession and estate planning; corporate governance issues; establishment of joint ventures operating in national and international commercial transactions; and transactions regulated by the Central Bank of Brazil.
Questions & Answers
Thought Leaders 2018 - Interview with Milena Mazzini
What motivated you to specialise in corporate and M&A law?
I started my professional life interning in corporate and M&A matters. I didn’t have much of an idea of what it was exactly, but I was excited to accept an internship offer at a big law firm in São Paulo. Since then, I’ve been involved in interesting projects and had contact with corporate and M&A matters, which I didn’t know I would like so much. In this practice area we have more access to the dynamics of a company as well as the local market in which they operate, which leads to a better understanding of the legal issues related to the business itself. It also helps lawyers better understand the challenges company executives face, so it is essential that attorneys get involved in the client’s business to offer them better legal solutions that would fit their needs.
What has been your biggest achievement to date and why?
My biggest achievement was to be a part of Madrona Advogados since its creation and to be a part of a wonderful team of partners and professionals. It’s a firm that stands out for its professional excellence and care with relationships, ethically and conscientiously.
In your opinion, what skills make a successful lawyer and what makes you stand out to clients?
As in any career, dedication and interest is key. For a corporate and M&A attorney, besides legal knowledge, we have to have a broader view of the various practice areas and confidently navigate them. Having sensibility and treating our clients’ problems like our own is something that makes us stand out, and helps to build trust with clients and make them feel like their business is in good hands. Curiosity, studying and keeping up with what’s new in the legal sphere is also essential. We have to be concerned about the quality of the work we provide, be it technical legal advice, the way we communicate with our clients or attention to detail – we must ensure that all of these parts come together in each of our professionals.
Brazil has always had a strong investment climate, but many obstacles remain for companies looking to do business locally. If you could give clients one piece of advice, what would it be?
My advice would be to study the business environment in Brazil, and look for ethical partners who are interested in the country’s development. There are competent legal professionals in Brazil who will be able to assist investors, and bring safety and protection to your business.
What initiatives should the new government pursue to boost the country’s investment landscape, in your opinion?
The government should take action to regain the trust of investors and citizens. Economic and social measures are urgent and need to take place in the near future. There needs to be more transparency and open dialogue with all sectors of society, so more than a few sectors see growth and development.
Many advances have been made to improve gender equality in the legal profession, but what more needs to be done to address existing imbalances in law firms, in your opinion?
I believe in the need for a strong cultural shift that goes beyond the professional environment.
There’s much resistance to this issue in our society. It’s necessary to bring the big guns to this fight for gender equality and to have it discussed and talked about in all groups and environments until it doesn’t have to be an issue anymore.
In law firms, this shouldn’t be any different. We have to talk about it openly, bravely and institutionally. That’s the only way to bring about a true cultural change.
What advice would you give to a young female lawyer starting her career?
I have one single piece of advice: have the guts to take risks and put yourself out there. Try to do a good job and engage your group. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by any person of any gender in the work environment.
In-house teams are becoming increasingly sophisticated in Brazil. How has the firm adapted to address new client demands?
We see in-house teams seeking more involvement from senior members of the firm in all their demands, as well as quicker response times and a more active approach. Madrona Advogados has always concerned itself with the quality of its work, so we’ve always paid close attention to legal departments’ demands and needs. It has always been part of our culture to have partners and senior attorneys be involved in our clients’ demands at all stages of the matters we take care of. Our goal is to make their lives easier.