TozziniFreire sits comfortably among the elite law firms in Brazil, with its broad and deep bench across an extensive range of practice areas, combined with a modern structure and focus on technology and innovation.
TozziniFreire is highly respected for its comprehensive transactional offering, including M&A, finance and capital markets. It has also built excellent disputes, technology, and anti-corruption and compliance departments. Several practice heads are among the best in their fields and the large teams that they oversee allow the firm to specialise in a way many rivals cannot. The full-service approach and practice area reach – which make TozziniFreire stand out – are supported by a structure that incentivises cross-selling and multi-disciplinary groups. As clients demand an ever more tailored service based on real industry knowledge, the firm has organised itself into sector and country-based groups, be it fintech, agribusiness, healthcare, engineering or construction.
The firm combines its impressive reach with investments in innovation and technology. TozziniFreire has been operating its ThinkFuture programme since 2018, which is designed to take the culture of innovation to the core of its work areas by establishing close relationships with lawtechs and fostering the engagement of its lawyers and employees with modern technology and ideas. The firm is actively employing AI technology to improve its work and services to clients. As a result, TozziniFreire has implemented due diligence systems for M&A transactions and a litigation tool that helps clients navigate Brazil’s vast disputes market. Another tool scans regulatory updates, permitting TozziniFreire and its clients to always be up to date with the latest developments. Cost reduction, efficiency enhancement and more time for lawyers to oversee complex tasks are some benefits resulting from this strategy.
TozziniFreire has already spent several years testing AI systems, which it uses for performing research and investigations. The firm is also working on other technology improvements and has deployed its own cybersecurity department, which does its utmost to protect valuable client and law firm data, shielding it from external threats. TozziniFreire has also developed an internal system to manage and control sensitive information sent by service users.
The group invested in compliance long before it was fashionable and can now duly boast a truly excellent, experienced 20-lawyer compliance and investigations team, which is led by some of the best in the field and makes a real impact on the firm's bottom line. The team has multiple leniency agreement negotiations under its belt, following a surge in activity by prosecutors in the wake of the Operation Car Wash investigation.
This innovative culture was instilled by TozziniFreire’s founders and is part of its DNA. As a result, the firm is now at the forefront of the latest trends, including fintech and green bonds. In line with this, it has in recent years consolidated new practice groups that focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards; 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.
TozziniFreire has already demonstrated to the market its strengths in these areas, having handled multiple deals related to Brazil’s open banking roll-out, sustainability-linked bond issuances and technology projects for the automotive industry. The management reports a steady flow of venture capital investments in start-up and fintech companies too. Overall, the firm reports an excellent transactional performance in 2022, which topped the previous year in terms of deal flow.
Like others in Brazil’s competitive legal market, TozziniFreire competes heavily for talent. Lateral hires are an integral aspect of its growth strategy, as evidenced in recent years. In 2021 alone, the firm appointed 17 partners – seven of which were promotions. It has since taken a more relaxed approach in 2022, but several new partners have joined in the past couple of years. An in-house lawyer from Itaú BBA strengthened the firm’s restructuring practice, which followed the arrival of an M&A partner, as well as partners across its banking and technology practices. While some lawyers have also departed the firm’s senior ranks, most recently from the tax and disputes groups, TozziniFreire has boosted its partnership over the last few years and is getting closer to the 100-partner mark.
Fernando Serec acts as CEO and is a driving force on day-to-day and strategic matters. The seven-person executive committee provides strong guidance and has overseen important successes recently. The management team is also continuing the practice’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 LGBTQ+ and racial diversity. As a result of the focus, the outfit has boosted its recruitment of transgender professionals in recent years. Latin Lawyer recognised TozziniFreire’s achievements in that regard, presenting it with the Diversity Initiative Award in 2023.
TozziniFreire has a scorecard evaluation system for its partners, intended to make performance appraisals more objective. This 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 in the partners’ general meetings. Its mitigated lockstep compensation system, which avoids big gaps between the gains of senior and junior partners, is reportedly working well and creates ownership among young partners while inspiring associates to see real opportunities for developing their careers within the firm. Through TF Global, the practice cultivates its international ties with firms and clients overseas. It also enables the firm to send its own lawyers for experience in other countries, whether through LLM studies or foreign associate positions.
TozziniFreire is popular among the region’s largest corporations and financial institutions, with clients including Itaú Unibanco, Banco do Brasil and Santander. In other sectors, América Móvil, Vale, Grupo Ulta, FEMSA and Enel are also clients. 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, TozziniFreire represents 30 of 100 of the biggest companies in the region.
TozziniFreire has an executive committee formed of seven partners: CEO Fernando Serec, Fernando Carvalho, Shin Jae Kim, Patrícia Helena Marta Martins, Maria Elisa Gualandi Verri, Giovanni Falcetta and Luis Renato Ferreira da Silva.
TozziniFreire maintains offices in São Paulo, where its innovative campus-like headquarters are located, and the main hubs of Rio de Janeiro and Brasília. It is also present in regional strongholds in the south such as Porto Alegre, and industrial centres like Campinas. It also has a representative office in New York.