Azevedo Sette Advogados pursuit down a path of exponential growth has helped it craft a substantially sought-after full-service offering in Brazil’s highly competitive market. The firm’s extensive reach across five offices has earned it widespread recognition for its M&A, infrastructure, labour and tax groups among other stand-out features. Azevedo Sette has phenomenally broadened its horizons since its beginnings as a mining specialist firm over five decades ago.
The hindrance to the global market amid the covid-19 pandemic didn’t stop Azevedo Sette in its tracks in 2020. The Brazilian firm hired three new partners from local competitors and in-house advisers from top companies throughout the year, bolstering its real estate, disputes and banking practices. Meanwhile, the firm also elevated five associates to the partnership in 2020 and 2021, further fleshing out its real estate, corporate, tax, disputes and labour groups with home-grown talent. The latest firepower continues a trajectory of aggressive expansion which picked up considerable momentum in 2019 when the firm snapped up some of Brazil’s most prolific lawyers, which gained experience at well-reputed rival firms.
A determined strategy of exponential growth through lateral hiring and promotions has given the firm a prominent standing across its core departments. Azevedo Sette Advogados is serious about its commitment to building a world-beating service offering and that shows in the high-quality level of legal talent it appoints to the firm. A recently hired banking partner spent a decade and a half at Brazil’s national banking federation FEBRABAN as a legal director and has held senior positions at top banking institutions Banco Bradesco and BCN too. Meanwhile, a recently arrived arbitrator is a predominant player in Brazil’s disputes market and is vice-president of Brazil’s chamber of mediation and business arbitration (CAMARB). The real estate brings corporate insight too, joining from an in-house role at local property company Urba.
Resounding client praise for Azevedo Sette arrives in bucketloads, and plaudits are shared across the whole spectrum of departments and practitioners at the firm. One representative applauds the firm’s “combination of great legal knowledge with a technical understanding of environmental issues,” while another praises Azevedo Sette for its “deep knowledge of Brazilian tax legislation.” The intake of recognised legal experts has also won the firm gleaming reviews. Speaking on the compliance department, one company that enlisted the firm’s services remarked that “I know that the material analysis will be done thoroughly, and I will have access to the best guidance I could possibly have in the Brazilian market.” The firm is also known for its responsiveness, range of technical knowledge and a universally high standard of skill at both partner and attorney levels.
Having branched out from its mining-speciality office in Belo Horizonte, the firm has come a dramatically long way. Its established offices in Brasília, Rio de Janeiro, Recife and São Paulo give it an understanding of the local markets in those areas and clients regularly appoint the firm for its specialised robust knowledge of legislation in the various states it operates in.
The covid-19 may have put a damper on expectations for real estate growth in 2020, but after recovery shot up in the second half of the year the firm was first on the scene to mop up some of the most lucrative opportunities that arose. Historically low-interest rates in Brazil, which were a mixed result of the pandemic and pre-existing market stagnation, re-ignited investor interest in the country with global players looking to make high returns on low stakes. One product of that trend was a sudden increase in public offerings on São Paulo’s stock exchange. Azevedo Sette was on hand to advise a group of selling shareholders in an IPO launched by e-commerce start-up Méluiz, sitting across from a high-profile group of Brazilian firms. Meanwhile, the firm picked up some work from the growth of the health sector amid the pandemic last year and helped local medical group Promed divest a portfolio of hospital assets to prominent health insurance company Hapvida for US$279 million. The firm remains a popular choice among clients in the energy and renewables sector too, where it handles finance and corporate work.
Azevedo Sette’s extensive list of notable clients includes blue-chip companies within the banking, agribusiness, retail, mining, energy, telecoms, automobile, aviation and tech spheres, among many others. Mapfre, Amazon, Johnson Controls, Santander and Mercedes-Benz are some examples. In the tech world, the firm advises, Twitter, Microsoft and Fox, while Brazilian miner Vale and regional aviation group LATAM Airlines also appear. According to a study, ‘Who Represents Latin America's Biggest Companies’, published by the Latin American Corporate Counsel Association, which is affiliated to Latin Lawyer, Azevedo Sette represents 25 of 100 of the biggest companies in the region, meaning that the firm advises a quarter of Latin America’s most prominent companies.
For the healthy amount of new legal talent Azevedo Sette welcomes through its doors, it registers a considerably smaller amount of departures. Given the fluid movement between rival firms in Brazil’s busy legal market that is a remarkable feat. The firm’s ability to retain high-quality leadership is owed to dynamic leadership, headed up by managing partner Luiz Sette, who offers clear direction and values an engaging workplace for.
In 2020, Azevedo Sette embarked on the first year of its five-year plan ending in 2025, though the firm’s leaders regularly review the long-term strategy to react to emerging trends with agility too. Leadership keeps a steady finger on the pulse in terms of the newest undercurrents driving market opportunities and plans to pick up more IPO work and represent high-profile sellers in divestment deals over the next 12 months or so.
Azevedo Sette is respected internationally and has a global-minded approach to match. There is a dedicated Italian desk which is popular among European clients.
The firm has had a lock-step compensation system in place since 2019. Azevedo Sette’s offices, compensation plans and IT systems went under significant remodelling just months before the pandemic hit in 2020, which has given it a stable footing throughout a highly treacherous course of events. The firm’s loyal client base has embraced the group’s commitment to providing timely and thorough responses despite the more virtual setting. While the restrictions put in place amid the crisis have reduced contact with neighbouring firms to track what its competitors are doing, Azevedo Sette’s client feedback and retention of leading legal practitioners seem to demonstrate that the firm is already making all the right moves.
Azevedo Sette has six main bases throughout the country. It recently remodelled its Belo Horizonte base, which is popular with mining clients. It has a São Paulo office too, though the firm enjoys capturing a diverse sample of clients through its additional offices in Rio de Janeiro, Brasília, Goiânia, and Recife.
Alliances and networks
The firm is a member of law associations Legal Network International and LexUniversal.