Commitment to Brazil Benefits Steel Hector & Davis.

Author:YOLEN, STEVEN H.
 
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RIO DE JANEIRO--Despite the turbulent economic period that Brazil has been facing in recent months--or maybe because of it--Eduardo Colle Moreira Lima and Michael R. Royster say business for their 18-month-old law firm, an associated office of South Florida's Steel Hector & Davis LLP, is mushrooming.

Moreira Lima & Royster Advogados, with offices in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, is part of a growing Steel Hector & Davis network that includes Caracas, London, Santo Domingo and Florida (Miami, West Palm Beach, Tallahassee, Naples and Key West). Under Brazilian law, only a Brazilian-licensed attorney can practice in Brazil--so Steel Hector & Davis invited veteran local practitioners Moreira Lima and Royster to become senior partners, opening the affiliated law office in Brazil in their own names.

Since beginning operations in December 1997, Royster reports that the firm has grown from six to II attorneys, all of them fluent in English and Portuguese and all familiar with both U.S. and Brazilian law. 'Most of the Brazilian attorneys have or will soon have LLM degrees and can become members of the bar in both countries" he says.

Moreira Lima reports that the company has already outgrown its original office space and is planning on expanding into adjacent quarters in both Rio and Sao Paulo.

"We've been able to grow, contrary to the trend of the economy," he says, attributing it in part to the fact that the firm offers the equivalent legal services in Brazil that a client would obtain from a U.S. law office.

"The idea of providing clients here with the same services they are used to back in the U.S. has proven to be a good strategy for us," Moreira Lima says. "Since all of our attorneys have practical experience in both the U.S. and Brazil, it is easy for us to understand the concerns of the stateside client's own law team."

The increased business in the middle of the economic crisis of the last six months has been somewhat of a surprise to the two attorneys.

Royster says, "There's still a lot of activity in the field of joint ventures and mergers and acquisitions, and this generates lots of legal work for us."

Adds Moreira Lima, "While the privatization activity has subsided, we've seen work grow in other areas. For instance, here in Rio, the oil business is booming and we have many clients in this sector."

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