Fernando is a founding partner at Villela de Andrade, Kloss Advogados (VAK), with more than 20 years of experience in administrative law, public law, regulatory law and infrastructure, with broad experience on government procurement, bidding procedures and administrative contracts in general and the regulation of sensitive industries. Fernando is also very experienced in negotiating agreements of different nature with public entities, including those related to anticorruption laws and regulations and renegotiation of concession agreements with regulatory agencies. Before founding VAK Advogados, Fernando had headed the administrative law and infrastructure practices at full-service and international law firms in Brazil.
Fernando holds a Master of Laws (LLM) in trade regulation at New York University (NYU), a postgraduation in economic and regulatory law at FGV Direito Rio, as well as specialisations in negotiation and mediation at Harvard Law, and regulation at The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Fernando is currently the coordinator of the Airport Infrastructure Regulation Committee at FGV Direito Rio, the Vice-President of Airport Infrastructure Law at the Arbitration and Mediation Brazilian Centre (CBMA) and he is also an arbitrator at the Arbitration and Mediation Brazilian Centre (CBMA).
Fernando has authored and coordinated the publication of several books and articles within the administrative law and regulatory law areas and he has also been a speaker in law-related events.
Fernando is trained both in Brazil and in the United States, the latter as a foreign associate at Thacher Proffitt & Wood LLP and Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP (currently Dentons).
Questions & Answers
Thought Leaders 2024 - Interview with Fernando Villela de Andrade Vianna
Can you briefly describe your career to date?
I have dedicated my entire career to the study and practice of administrative law and arbitration/litigation. I strongly believe in the importance of the balance between academia and actual practice of the areas of law, as these two feed one another. With that in mind, besides having been a lawyer for almost 20 years, I have also pursued to build a strong academic background. After being 20 years in different full-service law firms, I have recently established my own practice (VAK Advogados), a boutique law firm focused on administrative law, regulatory law, infrastructure and litigation of complex matters.
What do you enjoy most about being a lawyer in the respective fields of arbitration and administrative law?
Practising law is all about making a difference somewhere. In my areas of expertise, such as administrative law and infrastructure, being able to see the advancement of public utilities infrastructure (eg, airport) is what I enjoy the most. Some of the cases or matters that I have worked on are part of the history of some of the infrastructure assets in Brazil.
What was the most challenging case you have ever worked on and why?
A particular litigation involving the reallocation of over 1,200 families (over 3,000 people) living in inhuman conditions – with no water treatment, sewage and lack of safety. These families were living within an airport area and their reallocation was needed to allow the expansion of the airport runway. The litigation involved several public entities in Brazil and the interest of thousands of people. It was one of the moments where we can see the true public interest in practice. This is still an ongoing litigation, but the families were already reallocated (and living in much better condition) and the expansion of the airport was made possible.
What are the greatest challenges for lawyers working on arbitration or administrative law matters in Brazil currently?
Contractual relationship with public entities is never easy, especially in Brazil. And it also varies according to the government sphere (federal, state or municipality). The challenges posed vary from uncertainty of the law, its enforcement or interpretation, and even the quality of regulators. In an area where investors must value risks, Brazil can be challenging. Part of a lawyer’s task in these areas in Brazil is to provide trustworthy legal advice with a touch of political view. Lawyers practising administrative law in Brazil cannot limit themselves to the practice of law alone, as the complexity has evolved to a level where an understanding of the political scenario became an asset. Also, we have always to understand our client’s business and how our advice may affect their ability to do business. We need to be pragmatic and conscious of our responsibility to our clients’ needs and expectations.
What three recommendations or notes would you share with younger lawyers stepping into your practice area?
Study hard, be always updated with the Federal Auditing Court (TCU) and Supreme Court’s rulings and understand the political scenario and your client’s business.
What do clients look for when selecting you as a lawyer?
Part of my decision to depart from big law firms and open up my own boutique practice is to be closer to my clients and provide them with a personal approach in the practice of law. I believe that is exactly what clients look for when they reach out to me. Trustworthy legal advice with a personal touch. Plus, I have always sought to provide legal advice with a business perspective, which has been acknowledged by the clients.
How would you like Villela de Andrade Kloss Advogados (VAK) to develop in the coming years?
VAK Advogados was founded with the mindset to offer pragmatic legal strategies to our clients. We are more focused on the quality of projects that we are involved in rather than the quantity. With that in mind, I hope VAK Advogados can keep being engaged by clients seeking top-notch legal advice in complex matters involving administrative law and arbitration.
You have enjoyed a distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?
I plan to keep investing time and efforts in the academic aspect of my career, which I believe is of utmost importance.