Firm Profile

BMA Advogados

Brazil

Trailblazing corporate stars

LL 250 Elite

Established: 1995

Partners: 81

Lawyers: 313


Female partners: 41%

Partner to associate ratio: 2.9

Work areas
17

This firm is elite for services in the following work areas.

This is not just one of the top firms in the Brazilian market; BMA Advogados is the home of rainmakers who have famously managed some of the most memorable transactions in the country’s recent history.

Such is the reliably high quality of BMA’s service offering that clients return to the firm time and again, helping it to maintain an enviable deal flow even during the all-too-frequent vicissitudes of the Brazilian market. BMA’s leading M&A practice group, which is specifically knowledgeable of public companies, continued to advise on some of the biggest and most complex transactions in the market. BMA not only advised on but even coordinated QuintoAndar’s multijurisdictional acquisition of Navent, a deal that touched upon seven countries in Latin America. The transaction won the Latin Lawyer’s Deal of the Year Award in the private M&A category in 2021. BMA also handled two landmark operations in the retail sector: Lojas Americanas’s US$7 billion merger with a subsidiary and Aliansce’s US$1.8 billion tie-up with Sonae Sierra.

Meanwhile, BMA’s competition and antitrust practice group is second to none in the Brazilian market: it guided Carrefour on the antitrust aspects of its purchase of Grupo BIG. Its antitrust advice on Oi’s mobile division sale to three telecom operators is equally impressive. A high-level disputes team stayed busy on behalf of companies still feeling the brunt of Brazil’s recent difficult years. The firm made a strategic, early move to position itself to ride the wave of high-profile restructuring and bankruptcy deals that have emerged from Brazil’s booms and busts. Today, BMA can rightfully boast of an impressive deal portfolio built in the area, not least its advice to telecoms company Oi during its historical reorganisation and its representation of BHP in the Samarco restructuring.

BMA’s environmental team has also been in the spotlight. Its intellectual property and life sciences practice areas have gained increased attention, while the tax team has been a reliable source of revenue providing vital support to the firm’s outstanding transactional areas.

Recent partner additions have also strengthened several of these areas. An insolvency partner joined from Tauil & Chequer Advogados in association with Mayer Brown, while a tax lawyer was brought from professional services group EY. The latter filled the gap created after a partner left for another firm. Five partner promotions boosted BMA’s M&A, litigation and real estate departments at the start of 2022, adding to a seven-lawyer promotion the year prior.

Always with an eye on the latest trends, BMA has established two new multidisciplinary practice areas: ESG and risk management. Both groups build on the firm’s strength across several departments and can bring the expertise required by clients concerning sustainable financing, environmental disasters and cyberattacks. In fact, the firm advised on two major ransomware attacks on Brazilian listed companies in 2021, which were unfamiliar territory and complex mandates. Partners report that clients were happy with how the firm solved their issues and the experience has certainly put the firm in the front seat for similar matters in the future.

With such an impressive range of departments, it is no surprise that BMA is popular among the region’s largest corporations. According to a study, Who Represents Latin America's Biggest Companies, published by the Latin American Corporate Counsel Association (LACCA), which is affiliated to Latin Lawyer, BMA represents 36 of 100 of the biggest companies in the region, which makes it one of the top 10 Brazilian firms in the rankings.

While BMA’s superstar lawyers like Paulo Cezar Aragão, winner of Latin Lawyer’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020, and Francisco (Chico) Müssnich continue to handle plenty of transactions, the firm is currently – gradually and behind the scenes – preparing the ground for a smooth transition by empowering a younger league of partners. It is the first time this relatively young firm has had to face a generational handover, but it already has an upcoming team of experienced partners with great expertise in handling key matters and clients. While succession is not an easy task, the founding partners are well-aware that they need to give the younger partners space to grow, and they understand the importance of deepening BMA’s institutionalisation. If BMA manages to guide the transition as successfully as it handles its high-stakes mandates, there is no doubt that it will retain its natural position at the top of this market’s food chain, sharing a place only with the most formidable competitors.

BMA has already taken firm steps in this direction. Amir Bocayuva Cunha, the firm’s managing partner, is tasked with delivering a smooth transition and will announce a succession plan shortly. Besides structuring the firm’s succession plan, Bocayuva has also assisted with the implementation of new governance and compensation models. He maintains an active corporate practice and sits on the firm’s directors committee, which handles daily activities. Being able to count on the active advice of such prominent figures during the process is a privilege few in the market have.

As it expanded and gained widespread recognition, BMA was focused on creating a culture of excellence, innovation and results. It is now taking bolder steps to strengthen the governance of the institution as a corporate, full-service firm. For instance, it implemented significant changes to associate compensation. Before, their salary was strongly linked to the firm’s revenue. Now, there are various levels of compensation that take into consideration the length of the lawyers’ careers, while performance bonuses are paid every six months. The firm has also adopted a more structured assessment for promotions, moving away from revenue contributions to a more qualitative evaluation that considers a wider range of skills.

BMA has also implemented programmes to train its lawyers in non-legal skills, including public speaking and accountancy. They boost its existing educational initiative, BMA Educação, established in 2015.

With notable strides towards modern management, the firm has also put other key initiatives in place. The leadership understands it is better to be proactive and anticipate problems than to have to solve them once they have occurred. That is why the firm has allocated important resources to guarantee the well-being of its lawyers, especially now after two years of the health emergency which has changed organisations inside out. BMA is working with a local hospital that helps it manage well-being at the firm, while an internal group led by Bocayuva and another partner organise regular group sessions with lawyers to pick up and deal with potential health issues at an early stage.

In addition, a mentorship programme is in place to empower female lawyers and guide them to leadership positions. BMA also wants to give back to the community and is working to increase racial diversity within the firm. Therefore, it has launched a trainee programme through which it wants to give professional opportunities to Afro-descendants (who are extremely underrepresented in Brazilian business organisations), while also further developing an open and inclusive environment. Meanwhile, the firm’s social responsibility programme has been significantly expanded and deepened, including a well-thought-out pro bono programme.

The firm has allocated resources to other areas of the organisation too. IT has been a priority, where money has been poured into cybersecurity. The firm was granted an ISO 27001 certificate, which indicates that it complies with internationally recognised standards of data protection. Technology investment does not end there. BMA has created an internal robot which helps with administrative tasks for the management, such as invoices, data collection and to fulfil tax obligations, while reducing laborious tasks for administrative staff.

Management

The strategic management committee is composed of Paulo Cezar AragãoFrancisco Müssnich, Plínio Simões BarbosaLuiz Antônio Campos, managing partner Amir Bocayuva CunhaMonique Mavignier, André de Albuquerque Cavalcanti AbbudBarbara Rosenberg, Carlos Frederico Bingemer and Luiz Fernando Fraga.

Offices

BMA is headquartered in Rio de Janeiro and has well-established offices in São Paulo and Brasília.

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