November 2011 Issue
Lisa A. Alfaro joined Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in 1995 after receiving her JD from Stanford Law School. Now she is partner in charge of the firm’s São Paulo office in Brazil, and she co-chairs the Latin America practice group. She is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish, and she is licensed in California and New York.
But there is one thing Alfaro can’t do: engage in any kind of local law practice in Brazil.
As a registered foreign legal consultant, Alfaro may advise her clients—primarily multinational companies—on U.S. and international law relating to such things as mergers and acquisitions, and project finance.
But under rules promulgated by Brazil’s national bar association, she is barred from giving clients any advice on Brazilian law, even though she is well-versed in it.
“The fact that we can’t practice locally is certainly the largest challenge we face,” says Alfaro. “I make it clear to each client that they have to talk to the Brazil counsel about an issue, even if I am up-to-date on the law.”
And now it might become even more difficult for foreign lawyers like Alfaro to work closely with local counsel.