Mariana Tavares Antunes has been a partner at Brazilian firm Wald, Antunes, Vita, Longo e Blattner Advogados since 2000. She is recognised by peers for her vast experience in litigation, international and domestic arbitration, infrastructure, and administrative and regulatory law, and has featured in many professional rankings and editorial analyses by specialised publications. Antunes received her JD in 1997 from the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo and studied mediation of complex disputes at the Harvard Negotiation Institute. In 2016, she became a named partner of the firm – a rebranding intended to reflect her important contribution, along with that of other partners, in making the firm the success it is today.
Questions & Answers
Thought Leaders 2020 - Interview with Mariana Tavares Antunes
Describe your career to date
I started my career at Wald, Antunes, Vita, Longo e Blattner in 2000, two years after my graduation from São Paulo’s Pontifical Catholic University Law School. Since then, I have had the opportunity to work with the acclaimed Professor Arnoldo Wald, from whom I learn every day to always be passionate about the legal profession. Throughout these 22 years, my focus has always been on strategic litigation. I have had the honour of working on emblematic cases, in the most diverse areas, always accompanied by incredible professionals.
What do you enjoy most about being a lawyer in your practice area?
The challenge. Acting in strategic litigation involves enormous challenges on a daily basis. The routine is stimulating and always diversified. No two cases are the same, which demands a permanent updating of knowledge, the continuous development of socio-emotional skills and the ability to build unique, different solutions that meet clients’ interests. This is the most inspiring part of the profession.
What is the most challenging case or transaction you have ever worked on and why?
There are so many challenging cases I have worked on that it is difficult to answer the question by selecting a single one. But there is one case for which I have great affection, and which has accompanied me since the beginning of my career. It is a dispute that arose from the privatisation of a company that provided essential public services and it involved a large case value. There have been decades of legal disputes, involving both public and private parties, renowned firms and complex discussions around the interpretation of contractual clauses that required economic and accounting knowledge. About two years ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a mediation that eventually resulted in a settlement that solved much of the litigation. It was a great experience!
What are the greatest challenges for lawyers in your practice area in your country this year?
We are living an atypical year, with immense challenges arising from the covid-19 pandemic. Issues previously confined to their respective countries are now having repercussions on the world population and on a scale of geometric progression. Health and the economy have never had such a close relationship. The world had to quickly adapt to a new way of living and working, with profound changes in social and professional relations, which became dependent on the use of technology. In this context, the role of law and lawyers is of great importance. It is up to us to search for faster and more consensual solutions, to invest in agreements and avoid litigation, to increase dialogue and cooperation, and to stimulate collective and alternative forms of solution. All this with the objective of achieving the greatest possible efficiency in solving the crisis, which presupposes flexibility, creativity and capacity for adaptation.
How do you expect your practice to evolve over the next five years?
The practice will certainly evolve, with the use of alternative dispute methods, the exponential growth of arbitrations and mediations, and an expansion of collective procedural remedies. Apart from that, I see a substantial transformation in the work routine, with the addition of home office, which saves commuting time, and an increasing use of technological tools for more efficiency.
What do clients look for when selecting you as a lawyer?
Above all, they seek experience and the ability to solve complex disputes. To this end, the accumulated knowledge acquired in these 22 years of practice – as well as some personal characteristics, such as calmness, serenity and objectivity in dealing with multifaceted problems –are tools that I believe contribute to the choice.
How would you like to see your law firm develop in the coming years?
My priority is to contribute to maintaining the firm’s position at the forefront of complex dispute resolutions, continuing the plan set forth by our founding partner, Professor Wald. Therefore, our objective is to continue on this mission in the coming years.
You have enjoyed a very distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?
I consider myself completely fulfilled in my career today. I have an enormous passion for law, and I work on extremely challenging cases alongside professionals who inspire me and support me, and who I admire both professionally and personally.