2021 Latin Lawyer Elite firm
Never one to rest on its laurels, Demarest Advogados constantly strives to modernise and be the best for its clients, and its solid deep bench paired with its evolving growth strategy places it firmly among Brazil’s elite law firms.
A leader for M&A in the agribusiness sector – a key industry in Brazil’s economy – and international trade matters, this full-service firm has been working tirelessly to reach similar levels of excellence in other practice areas. Its banking and finance and restructuring and insolvency groups have come into their own in recent years, with blue-chip clients returning for the firm’s great service. Its partnership focuses on quality and productivity, while the firm has also embarked on a growth strategy over the last few years, and 2020 was no exception.
Demarest had a successful 2020 despite the global backdrop of uncertainty brought by the covid-19 pandemic, with all practice areas maintaining strong activity. Its M&A and banking and finance teams were especially active across a host of sectors, while its non-transactional divisions – especially labour, insurance and restructuring and insolvency – were equally busy.
Demarest’s expansive client list includes numerous blue-chip clients, including Vale, Softbank, Apple, Nike and Bayer. Car manufacturer Peugeot is also a client, as is state-owned utility company CEB Distribuição and the LATAM Airlines group. 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, Demarest represents 23 of 100 of the biggest companies in the region, being among the top 10 Brazilian firms in the ranking.
Partner promotions in its corporate and M&A, disputes and tax areas at the start of 2021 helped Demarest keep up with client demand and restock after some labour and tax partners left last year, while also boosting its data privacy department when it hired a specialist partner from a local boutique firm at the end of 2020.
Its insurance team, which had a busy 2020, welcomed a partner from a rival firm in 2020, enhancing the team’s regulatory and compliance aspect of insurance legal advice. The firm lost its head of labour litigation at the start of 2021, but the already strong labour division remains unfazed and unimpacted by the departure. In another development, the firm spun out its corporate litigation department into a separate entity in 2021. A partner and a group of lawyers established Goulart Penteado Advogados, which will operate independently as a corporate litigation boutique practice, while maintaining links to Demarest.
Demarest also promoted a lawyer to chief compliance officer at the start of this year, replacing the former CCO who departed to a rival firm. Having a CCO reflects the firm’s continued efforts to streamline its backroom services, and helps it stand out from other competitors in the market.
Few in the market have embraced technology and innovation like Demarest. It has now fully implemented its SAPS/4HANA customer resource management tool, being the first firm in Latin America to do so. The technology integrates various functions of the firm and increases efficiency. While many law firms are following the tech developments with caution, Demarest speaks about disruption within itself and has put innovation at the core of its future strategy.
Demarest has also made some important internal initiatives to foster diversity and has consolidated its D Raízes, D Mulheres and D Mais internal groups, designed to respectively promote and support racial inclusion, gender equity and LGBT+ inclusion.
Demarest is one of the most highly praised firms in the whole of Latin Lawyer 250. One client highlights how its lawyers “are very reliable, good people, understand us well and are very cost-effective”, while another notes, “The firm gives their clients exceptional service and results, which we demand daily. The lawyers are fully available and have expertise in their field of practice.” The praise continues: “The firm’s lawyers deliver out-of-the-box thinking; really practical and effective legal advice. They can quickly grasp complex business structures and matters and design solutions side by side with the client.” The firm’s insurance practice gets a special shout out: “Demarest are very responsive, a delight to work with and are extremely well connected to the Brazilian insurance market – their market-leading experience means I have total confidence in their advice,” says another satisfied client.
José Diaz and Paulo Coelho da Rocha are credited with enthusiastically leading the firm’s growth over the past five years and continue to innovate to this day. Now only Rocha remains as CEO. The firm has a five-partner executive committee.
Demarest has offices in all of the key Brazilian cities – São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasília – as well as a base in Campinas, a large city just outside São Paulo, and a long-standing presence in New York.
Alliances and networks
Demarest is a member of the Lex Mundi, Interlex and Employment Law Alliance networks. The firm also maintains links to UK firm DAC Beachcroft, which has significant ambitions for growth in Latin America.