2021 Latin Lawyer Elite firm
TozziniFreire celebrates its 45th anniversary in 2021 and is proof that the diligent implementation of a modern structure and processes behind the scenes can create big gains in client satisfaction and work generation.
The firm is known for its investment in innovation and technology. TozziniFreire has been operating its ThinkFuture programme since 2018, designed to take the culture of innovation to the core of the firm’s practices by establishing close relationships with lawtechs and fostering the engagement of its lawyers and employees with new technology and ideas. As a result, it has deployed an automated due diligence system for M&A transactions as well as other areas which, among other matters, includes the revision of companies in sectors with ongoing privatisation processes. Cost reduction, efficiency enhancement and more time for lawyers to handle complex tasks are some benefits resulting from such initiatives.
The firm has already spent a few years testing artificial intelligence systems, which it uses for performing research and investigations. It doubled down on its efforts to protect its data from cyber-attacks by creating its own cybersecurity department under the guidance of consultancy firm EY. Such heavy investments come at a time when the demand for data protection legal services is high, and the firm is committed to continuing them.
This innovative culture was imbued by TozziniFreire’s founders and is part of the firm’s DNA, and has allowed the firm to be at the forefront of new trends, including fintech and green bonds.
In line with this, the firm launched five new practice groups in 2020 that focus on ESG, crisis management, impact investing, business and human rights and financial innovation. They may all develop in the same way as its cybersecurity and data protection group, which is well established in the market. Indeed, some of these new practice groups are already demonstrating their strength. The firm helped the company that rolled out the open banking system in the UK provide infrastructure solutions to do the same in Brazil. Other examples include sustainability-linked bond issuances and technology projects for the automotive industry. TozziniFreire’s visibility on both big-ticket and day-to-day transactions across a broad range of practice areas demonstrates that it has become a trusted partner to scores of high-profile companies.
Sustainability has undoubtfully captured the partnership’s attention and it is determined to be more vocal in this space. In 2020, TozziniFreire became the first Brazilian firm to be associated with the Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development.
Several practice heads are among the best in their fields and the large teams they oversee allows the firm to specialise in a way many rivals cannot. The full-service approach and practice area reach – which make this firm stand out – are supported by a structure that incentivises cross-selling and multi-disciplinary groups. As clients demand an ever-more personalised service based on real industry knowledge, the firm has organised itself into the sector and country-based teams, be it fintech, agribusiness, healthcare, engineering and construction, timber or Korea. Thanks to savings in some budgetary areas and substantial activity in corporate, capital markets and litigation, the partnership reports a strong 2020, despite the challenges imposed by the pandemic. The firm expects its infrastructure, corporate and capital markets departments to be active in 2021.
TozziniFreire also invested in compliance long before it was fashionable and can now duly boast a truly excellent, experienced 25-lawyer compliance and investigations team that is making a real impact on the firm’s bottom line. The team, deemed among the core practice groups by the leadership, has been busy advising on multiple leniency agreements following a surge in activity by prosecutors in the wake of the Car Wash investigation.
Like others in Brazil’s competitive legal market, TozziniFreire competes heavily for talent. It has added eight new partners since the start of 2021. The firm has appointed three M&A partners, as well as one in each of its energy, tax and capital markets practices, all through hires from local firms. TozziniFreire has also incorporated two former senior in-house lawyers, boosting its senior rank in the litigation and regulatory practices group. Those followed two other tax partner hires throughout 2020, along with four partner promotions across its antitrust, corporate, litigation and restructuring groups. Despite losses in the banking and infrastructure groups, hires and promotions resulted in the growth of TozziniFreire’s partnership in 2020, and it has increased further in 2021.
Prominent litigator Fernando Serec acts as CEO and is the face and driving force for the firm for day to day and strategic matters. The seven-person executive committee provides strong guidance and has overseen important successes in the firm’s recent history. The management team is also continuing the firm’s excellent work in providing a diverse place to work – that two-thirds of the management committee are women, together with around one-third of the partners, is notable and commendable. It has also allocated more resources to internal groups advocating for diversity, including LGBT and racial aspects. As a result of the focus, the firm has increased its recruitment of transgender professionals in recent years.
The firm has a ‘balanced scorecard’ evaluation system for its partners, intended to make performance appraisals more objective. It comes on the heels of changes to the firm’s corporate governance rules to give junior partners greater say over management decisions and more authority to the partners’ general meetings. It says its ‘mitigated lockstep’ compensation system, which avoids big gaps between the gains of senior and junior partners, is working well and creates ownership among young partners while inspiring associates to see real opportunities for developing their careers within the firm. During 2020, the firm has kept its remuneration systems intact, including the change to its profit distribution bonus from 2019, which benefits more associates and shares out a higher percentage of the firm’s profit.
Client satisfaction is evident, with many describing the firm’s lawyers as competent, sharp and capable of providing smart solutions. A client says lawyers “provide excellent legal support and high-quality work.” TozziniFreire’s role as a business partner is praised: “they give us a lot of confidence with their recommendations,” says a client from the real estate sector. Advice is also timely and cost-efficient. “The firm has great cost-benefits, delivering great legal work for a better price than other full-service firms,” says an insurance client.
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, TozziniFreire represents 17 of 100 of the biggest companies in the region.
TozziniFreire has an executive committee formed by seven partners: CEO Fernando Serec, Flávia Cristina Moreira de Campos Andrade, Luis Renato Ferreira da Silva, Patrícia Helena Marta Martins, Marcelo Calliari, Maria Elisa Gualandi Verri and Shin Jae Kim.
TozziniFreire maintains offices not only in São Paulo, where its innovative campus-like headquarters are located, and the main hubs of Rio de Janeiro and Brasília, but also in regional strongholds in the south such as Porto Alegre, and industrial centres like Campinas. TozziniFreire has a representative office in New York.