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LACCA Approved: Mariana Tavares Antunes

Energy Firm: Wald e Associados Advogados (São Paulo) Brazil

Mariana Tavares Antunes

Partner

marianata@wald.com.br
Tel: +(595 21) 230 100; 203 327; 230 101

Mariana Tavares Antunes has been a partner at Brazilian firm Wald, Antunes, Vita, Longo e Blattner Advogados since 2000. She is recognised by peers for her vast experience in litigation, international and domestic arbitration, infrastructure, and administrative and regulatory law, and has featured in many professional rankings and editorial analyses by specialised publications. Antunes received her JD in 1997 from the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo and studied mediation of complex disputes at Harvard Negotiation Institute. In 2016, she became a named partner of the firm – a rebranding intended to reflect her important contribution, along with that of other partners, in making the firm the success it is today.

Thought Leaders 2018 - Interview with Mariana Tavares Antunes

Why did you decide to pursue a career as a lawyer?

Ever since my childhood, I have always been attracted to subjects in the humanities, and in particular a career in the legal profession attracted me because of the variety of choices within it. Great causes always pose intellectual challenges and show us that law is dynamic. Being a lawyer means being able to reach solutions through creativity, courage, modesty and, more than anything, teamwork, which allows us to develop our skills and experiences as we work together on cases.

Why did you decide to specialise in energy disputes?

I have always worked on strategic litigation, both in state courts as well as arbitration courts, and cases from the energy market usually have this profile. I enjoy working with energy disputes in particular because the cases usually bring up challenging issues of great social and economic impact, which require a wide knowledge not only of the law, but also of many other areas.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing lawyers in the energy sector in Brazil?

One of the biggest challenges is the enormous network of laws and regulations surrounding the energy sector, which means lawyers in this field must be consistently aware of any updates or changes to regulations. When it comes to litigation specifically, there is another challenge: finding creative and efficient solutions in order to avoid the effectiveness of justice being impacted by the length of judicial proceedings. In Brazil, complex lawsuits (which are usually the case in the energy sector) may take decades to reach an end, which creates a sense of inefficiency and legal instability. I believe, however, we are moving in the right direction, as we are not only implementing better regulatory solutions and technological services in Brazil to make state courts more agile and efficient, but we are also stimulating more alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, such as arbitration and mediation.

In an effort to attract new investments, Brazilian authorities made substantial changes to local content requirements. How has this impacted the industry?

Brazilian authorities have been making a huge effort to improve and update industry standards, in an attempt to revisit and reset the regulatory framework in strategic fields. However, the results are not always satisfactory. Political issues and conflicting interests usually affect the pursuit of an ideal solution. In addition, the absence of legal security also impacts the efficiency of any legislation that is implemented.

Brazilian legal culture is based on litigation, in such a way that the legal framework itself is, usually, the object of judicial challenges which can often take a very long time to resolve. For instance, in our law firm we handled an emblematic public civil action, questioning the constitutionality of official radiation standards from electromagnetic fields generated by power transmission lines. The plaintiffs sought to apply the Swiss standards to Brazil, instead of Brazilian standards – and it has taken 17 years for our Supreme Court to decide, last year, that local standards should apply.

How have the recent corruption scandals affected companies in the oil and gas sector?

In general, the recent corruption scandals have created a movement within companies towards the improvement of their internal control mechanisms, as well as stricter investigation procedures and harsher punishments for possible deviations.

Many advances have been made to improve gender equality in the legal profession, but what more needs to be done to address existing imbalances in law firms, in your opinion?

In Brazil, despite the fact that women represent the majority of law students, men are still predominant in the corporate environment. Even today, in the 21st century, there are doubts about the ability of women to balance their personal and professional lives – especially after motherhood. I have always fought against this perspective and I am proud to say that our law firm has always managed these issues in an exemplary manner, building a team in which men and women work in absolute equality.

What has been your biggest achievement to date and why?

I have just finished a mediation proceeding involving a mixed joint-stock corporation and a public utility company, in which I acted as a lawyer. The settlement reached by the parties has expressive value and enabled the conclusion of judicial proceedings that lasted for almost 30 years.

What would you say is the secret to your success?

I had a great school. Since the beginning of my career, I have been working with Professor Arnoldo Wald and his sons Alexandre Wald and Arnoldo Wald Filho, who taught me a lot. Besides that, success comes from hard work, dedication, passion for the profession and a team of excellence working with me.

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