Afro-Brazilian lawyers have long been underrepresented in the legal field in Brazil. But Mattos Filho is trying to change that.
The firm has hired nine Black lawyers, who will join seven different practice areas.
Mattos Filho said it wants to increase representation for the group, which has long been underrepresented in the legal field. More than half of Brazil’s 210 million inhabitants self-identify as Black, yet there are very few Afro-Brazilian lawyers at the country’s largest law firms.
“Promoting diversity and inclusion is at the heart of our strategy to attract, retain and develop diverse talent, in addition to ensuring the long-term success of our business,” said Roberto Quiroga, Mattos Filho’s managing partner.
In 2019, nine leading Brazilian law firms including Mattos Filho formed the Legal Alliance for Racial Equity (Aliança Jurídica pela Equidade Racial) in an effort to boost representation of Black professionals in the legal field.
At the time, Black Brazilians accounted for less than 1% of the legal professionals employed by law firms in the alliance. The number of firms participating in the effort has since expanded to 12, while Black legal professionals now account for 11% of the legal professionals who work at those firms.
The other Brazilian law firms that have signed onto the Aliança Jurídica are: BMA, Cescon Barrieu, Demarest, Felsberg, Lefosse, Machado Meyer, Pinheiro Neto, Stocche Forbes, Trench Rossi Watanabe, Tozzini Freire and Veirano.
The affirmative action initiative within Mattos Filho, called Soma Talentos, began four years ago with the hiring of Black interns and has since expanded to encompass the hiring of Black lawyers.
The most recent Black lawyers hired by Mattos Filho have joined a variety of practices, including litigation and arbitration; environmental law and climate change; asset management services and investment funds; real estate; intellectual property; tax; and labor & employment. They will be based in Rio de Janeiro, Brasília and São Paulo.
Laiane Santos, who has joined Mattos Filho’s litigation and arbitration practice as a lawyer after having worked at the law firm Becker Bruzzi Lameirão Advogados, said she was drawn to the Soma Talentos program first and foremost because of Mattos Filho’s strong reputation in the legal market.
Professionals hired through Soma Talentos are supported with English classes, mentorship sessions and thematic meetings.
“Soma Talentos provides a gateway to joining a firm that promotes diversity,” said Caio Borba, who has been hired by the intellectual property practice. She previously worked as a lawyer in São Paulo at the firm Lee, Brock, Camargo Advogados.
Apart from the nine Black lawyers that Mattos Filho recently added to its roster, the firm has also brought on board 11 Black law students as interns in 2022, taking the total number of participants this year in its Soma Talentos program to 20.
Mattos Filho employs more than 1,600 people, making it one of Latin America’s largest law firms by head count.