Firm Profile

SiqueiraCastro

Brazil

Mass litigation titans on modernising drive

LL 250 Highly Recommended

Established: 1948

Partners: 93

Lawyers: 814

Work areas

This firm is highly recommended for services in the following work areas.

SiqueiraCastro is aiming high in its commitment to match its unparalleled national reach into high-end expertise. For most of its existence, the firm’s sheer size has been the feature that has most visibly set it apart from its rivals. By headcount alone, it quite simply towers above all other firms in Latin Lawyer 250. At its peak, the firm had more than 1,000 lawyers on its payroll – more than double the number of the second-largest Brazilian firm listed in this guide at the time. Clearly, such a scale brings with it vast opportunities. In its core litigation practice, an army of litigators spread across its vast network of 18 offices, makes SiqueiraCastro one of only a small handful of firms able to manage a large volume of cases on several fronts simultaneously. This is an obvious attraction for companies with long supply chains and ongoing litigation across Brazil – an even bigger one for clients in a distressed situation caused by the covid-19 pandemic.

After five years of massive investments in technology, the pandemic tested SiqueiraCastro’s ability to not only virtualise its massive operation but to maintain the same level of presence and high performance to its clients.

To avoid becoming overly dependent on mass litigation cases, the firm has expertly leveraged its ample client base and excellent reputation to offer quality premium services too, particularly in disputes-related areas such as labour, tax and administrative work. More recently the firm has embarked on an ambitious lateral hire spree to equip itself with the best of the best in strategic practice areas and fully verticalize its practice.

Each year, the firm’s steering committee elects an area to grow and integrate into the firm. In 2020, it was energy and natural resources – SiqueiraCastro absorbed energy boutique Advocacia Waltenberg and made its managing partner a practice head. This was followed by the hire of the founding partner of boutique Visconti Law to lead the mining practice.

While the mass work helps the firm maintain its large structure, such a focus also brings certain challenges. Smaller margins compared to complex, premium work means the firm must constantly invest in new technology to strike the necessary balance between cost and quality. The firm has hired in-house programmers to implement cutting-edge AI technology that can quickly and accurately assimilate millions of documents. Such is the sophistication of the system; the firm claims it can even anticipate which judge in a given state is likely to hear a particular case; automatically gathering relevant previous judgments and suggesting possible arguments accordingly. Another constant challenge is maintaining oversight and quality control over such a vast, dispersed network, which increases the risk of patchiness in its service offering compared with more compact rivals.

SiqueiraCastro has proven it does not shy away from making big changes when required. It has been steadily implementing sweeping changes to its governance system and ownership model that it says are now, finally, starting to bear fruit. The firm has been steadily transitioning from an exclusively family-owned structure towards equity partners and a ‘reversible lockstep’ compensation system. For the founding partner and his son, these changes have been felt personally with their voting stock reduced to under 15. The process has also required the elimination of its non-equity partnership level, which has brought casualties.

Although they have loosened their control in recent years, the founding family is still a dominant presence at the firm, but any evolution necessarily takes time and they have certainly proved their commitment to creating a truly institutionalised firm. Most importantly, client satisfaction remains high.

At the top end of the firm, there is the father-and-son team of Carlos Roberto Siqueira Castro, who is a former chair of the Brazilian Bar Association, and managing partner Carlos Fernando Siqueira Castro, who is praised by clients as a diligent and energetic leader and manager and was elected for a second term in 2019, which he will stay in for a five-year term until 2024. He leads the firm alongside an executive committee, featuring partners André Osório Gondinho, Gustavo Gonçalves Gomes, Hugo Filardi, Maucir Fregonesi, Otávio Pinto e Silva and Simone Paschoal. SiqueiraCastro’s institutionalisation efforts are visible in the firm’s management structure, which contains several partners without the Siqueira Castro name. The structure is designed to ensure that it survives beyond the Siqueira Castro family, as well as to help attract talent. All recent efforts come on top of a focused strategy of internationalisation, with noteworthy alliances with French, Portuguese and Chinese firms, and heavy investment in systems and processes to achieve more efficiency within the sizable firm.

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, SiqueiraCastro represents 17 of 100 of the biggest companies in the region. Among the high-profile clients to retain the firm are Vale, Telefônica, Petrobras, Amil and Cosan.

Offices

Siqueira Castro has an unrivalled network of offices in Brazil: Aracaju, Belém, Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Curitiba, Fortaleza, João Pessoa, Maceió, Manaus, Natal, Porto Alegre, Porto Velho, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, São Luís, São Paulo and Teresina.

Alliances and networks

The firm is the Brazilian member of the ADVOC International association of independent law firms, and indeed coordinates the network in Latin America.

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