Stakes are high for Brazilian legal services, some of which are being forced to raise their game in the battle for talent and work. Against a backdrop of ongoing economic challenges, it is remarkable how Veirano Advogados has maintained consistency and lofty standards across its multiple practice areas. This is a rare example of a firm that can rightfully boast of scope and flexibility across its transactional, disputes, labour and tax work areas. Its sophisticated, internationally minded approach and powerful market position secure the outfit a place among the absolute best.
However, Veirano does not rest on its laurels. It makes strategic hires and promotions to bolster practice areas where it foresees demand. In 2022, it added litigation firepower by hiring from BMA Advogados and reinforced its energy team with a partner from a local practice. These followed similar moves in 2021 when the outfit hired tax and environmental lawyers from competitors.
Veirano does not put all its bets on lateral hires. It promoted eight practitioners to its partnership at the start of 2022, boosting its tax, M&A, compliance, real estate and restructuring departments. As part of its five-year plan, it wants to further grow its capital markets, disputes, energy and infrastructure groups.
The outfit has noticed the trend to create multidisciplinary practice groups and has recently launched its own environmental, social and governance group. This brings together expertise from multiple departments, including corporate, labour and environmental law. The firm also established a team in response to the demand for cybersecurity advice, drawing talent from its IP, data protection and litigation areas.
Meanwhile, Veirano elected Paula Surerus as managing partner at the start of 2022, a move which brings it front and centre. She is the first woman partner to lead the practice and, at the time of writing, the only female managing partner at any Brazilian Elite firm, and one of few across Latin America. Surerus already formed part of the managing committee at the time of her appointment.
Sensible internal reforms, such as the implementation of a modified lockstep partner compensation system and the introduction of a modern management structure have helped to professionalise operations. The closer alignment between individual interest and firm-wide performance has helped build a more collegiate style of working that has improved client service and brought stability, while also increasing transparency and cross-selling incentives.
Veirano has made significant improvements to other levels of the organisation. A few years ago, it comprehensively overhauled its associate career path, adding a non-equity partner level aimed at improving the retention of associates not selected for equity partnership. With tough competition for talent in Brazil, the outfit also recently implemented a new bonus and benefits initiative for associates. Further, a health and wellbeing programme – Veirano Wellness – is now in place. For the senior members, Veirano formalised a retirement policy at the age of 65. Lawyers reaching that age may present a succession plan for the following two years should they wish to continue.
It has been investing heavily in innovation and training, allocating resources to reinforce its cybersecurity software. A technology committee is constantly looking for potential investments in this field. Currently, automatisation and AI for laborious tasks related to disputes is a priority. Meanwhile, Veirano puts great emphasis on further educating its lawyers. Young partners go through intensive programmes to enhance their business skills and learn best practices. Determined to raise its pro bono profile, management is increasing the focus on corporate social responsibility. In a recent initiative, Veirano has teamed up with a local environment-focused organisation to improve internal training and understanding of these issues.
Unusually, many of these decisions have been guided by an external consulting board financed by the firm, which is comprised of business professionals and academics who have no connection to the outfit. Although the advice is non-binding, Veirano asserts that it has led to a return to the drawing board and to include a larger variable component in its compensation system to help retain highly productive lawyers. Further, the firm is making moves to organise foreign placement for attorneys.
The firm continues to boost its diversity and inclusion initiatives, following policies and actions set out by its committee that was created in 2015. In 2020, it hired an analyst dedicated to the topic and has recently launched a mentoring programme for women.
Veirano has a sharp acumen for assisting international investors – a legacy of its founding partner, Ronaldo Veirano, who was Baker McKenzie’s representative in Brazil for 25 years. The practice is constantly pushing for improvement and is out there building new connections and cherishing old ones. This is reflected in a study, ‘Who Represents Latin America's Biggest Companies,’ published by the Latin American Corporate Counsel Association, which is affiliated to Latin Lawyer, which shows that Veirano Advogados represents 28 of 100 of the largest companies in the region.
In January 2022, Paula Surerus became Veirano’s first female managing partner, taking over from Ricardo Veirano who held the role for six years. Surerus joined the management committee in 2020, overseeing practice areas. Founder Ronaldo Veirano is the senior partner, bringing his wealth of experience and impeccable international credentials. Surerus sits on the executive committee alongside legal practice manager Marcelo Reinecken and executive directors Corina Engel and Priscila Orsi.
Founded in Rio de Janeiro, the largest office is now in São Paulo after several years of rapid growth. Outposts in Brasília and Porto Alegre complete the network.