Lefosse is a transactional titan that stands out from the crowd for its deep bench and its ability to compete with the market’s largest firms despite being significantly smaller. The firm is a real powerhouse when it comes to dealmaking, and its capital markets and M&A teams have a phenomenally successful record.
Lefosse is at ease with working on landmark deals. It advised Notre Dame in its mega-merger with fellow health insurer Hapvida – Brazil’s largest corporate tie-up over the last decade. The firm also helped Petrobras in the US$1.7 billion sale of its Landulpho Alves refinery to Emirati fund Mubadala.
In the non-transactional field, Lefosse is equally spectacular, working on high stakes matters that require excellent counsel. It represented Winity Telecom in Latin America’s largest 5G auction. The deal won the Latin Lawyer’s Deal of the Year Award in 2021 the regulatory category. Another example is the firm’s involvement in one of the most sensitive arbitration cases in Brazil, which arose from a legal battle in the paper industry. Impressive restructuring mandates also figure while the firm can offer some of Brazil’s best tax advice.
Big-name Brazilian and international corporate and financial clients are regular customers. Itaú Unibanco, Banco Santander (Brasil), JBS, FEMSA, Grupo Cargill, Enel, AmBev and Natura are just some examples. 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, Lefosse represents 36 of 100 of the biggest companies in the region, placing it among the top five Brazilian firms in the ranking.
It was all change at the top in 2021 for Lefosse. The firm elected Rodrigo Junqueira to replace Carlos Mello as the firm’s managing partner, at the same time appointing a new executive committee – including its first female member. Junqueira will remain as the managing partner until 2024. Mello continues as a partner in Lefosse’s corporate and capital markets departments, alongside his role on the firm’s executive committee. His arrival from Mattos Filho over a decade ago is remembered to this day as a landmark move that shook a market not then used to major lateral moves.
Today, most top Brazilian firms are used to the game and are prepared to protect their best talent, as well as monitor their rivals for opportunities. Lefosse is very much involved in this game. Following some hires and promotions in 2021, the firm has gone all out since the start of 2022. In the first half of the year alone, the firm has added 11 new partners between internal promotions and lateral hires. Some highlights include the incorporation of a commissioner from competition agency CADE, who joined to lead the firm’s new Brasília office. Lefosse also hired a partner to launch a life sciences practice.
Lefosse’s strategy is clear. It knows it has a leading offering in some practices, but it wants to strengthen its full-service approach. The firm intends to continue growing; because leadership agrees it needs size to cover more areas, jurisdictions and clients. The management wants to increase its international exposure, replicating its strong local brand also overseas and go after work in other jurisdictions. However, the firm plans carefully. It does not want to lose its dynamics and ability to seriously involve senior lawyers in deals, which is a benefit the partnership says it has thanks to being smaller than some of its competitors.
At the same time, Lefosse is cultivating the international service style it developed during a former association with a global law firm, and it maintains a fully bilingual team. The firm’s modern governance structure was also built to international standards long before other firms in the market underwent a process of modernisation. Greater focus has been placed on building connections with international firms to expand foreign placement opportunities for associates.
Lefosse has also been steadily building its commitment to diversity, both internally and in society. In 2018, the firm joined an initiative committing it to promote racial equality and it signed up for the inclusion and diversity initiative Fórum de Empresas e Direitos LGBTI+. A year earlier, it introduced two programmes aimed at diversifying its own ranks, including measures to increase the number of black lawyers at the firm. It has a partnership with a local university through which the firm brings black law students to the firm for further training. The initiative has worked well so far; Lefosse has hired a handful of black lawyers through the programme. Previous efforts to encourage a healthier gender balance have translated into a meaningful change: over half of the lawyers in the firm are women. However, at the partner level, the number of women remains below the market average.
Meanwhile, the firm has invested significantly in marketing over the last year, which included a rebranding in 2021.
Client praise for this firm is worth mentioning. One client from the banking industry describes Lefosse’s senior partners as business-oriented, hands-on and always available in an emergency. Other clients say the firm can always put an expert on any matter and offers top-notch services.
Rodrigo Junqueira is the firm's managing partner until 2024. He is supported by an executive committee with former managing partner Carlos Mello, Gustavo Haddad, Sergio Machado and Luiz Octavio Lopes. On the committee is also the firm’s managing director Silvia Eyng.
The firm is based in São Paulo with an office in Rio de Janeiro. It recently hired a partner to lead a new outpost in Brasília.