In July of 1982, Noronha Advogados opened its first international office in Miami, Florida, United States of America (USA). The firm, founded in 1978, was seeking alternatives for business development other than the domestic market, which had a participation of the State in approximately 70% of Brazil’s GDP. As a result of its operating policy, the firm from inception had renounced servicing the State economy sector, so as to avoid supporting indirectly the military dictatorship ruling the country in those somber years.
The USA was, in those days, Brazil’s main trade partner and Florida had a number of advantages over any other state, like closer distance, cheaper costs and a well-established Latin community. Those characteristics were to become both clear and determining in subsequent years, but at the time, the actual size of the Brazilian interests in South Florida was puny at best.
Varig was there. Banco do Brasil was there. So were Banco Nacional and Banco do Estado de São Paulo. And then came Noronha Advogados. On July 26 1982, the Miami Business Journal ran a feature entitled “BRAZILIAN LAW FIRM SETS PRECEDENT, OPENS MIAMI OFFICE”. The article had a picture of Lawrence S. Evans, then resident partner of Noronha Advogados in Miami, but no longer with the firm.
The article read “The prospect of Brickell Avenue housing branch offices of law firms from nations representing Miami’s major trading partners, however, may seem to be unrealistic. But the outlook may change, depending of the success…” of the venture. Lawrence “Evans will be testing the waters for his firm, but also for other law firms throughout the world which have clients who conduct business in Miami. It is believed to be the first branch office of a law firm based outside the USA to establish in Miami.”
Further on, the article quotes the following statement by senior partner, Durval de Noronha Goyos: “Noronha expects his firm’s Miami office to be closely watched by law firms in other nations. If successful, he believes that lawyers from other nations will begin to send attorneys to Miami, or hire them away from Miami law firms.”
Noronha Advogados was the first international firm to open up a commercial presence in Florida and the first Latin and the first Brazilian firm to be based in the USA. For some 15 years, Noronha Advogados was the only Brazilian firm in the USA. Its early beginning even anticipated the foreign legal practice ruling of the Florida Bar in many years. It also anticipated the American Bar Association’s model rule by a long time.
With success, the firm suffered regulatory discrimination in Florida, but the experience allowed Noronha Advogados to build its international practice. In 1986, the firm opened up its London office, again the first Brazilian presence in the United Kingdom. In 1987, the firm started up in Lisbon, Portugal, again a pioneer initiative. In 1988, the firm opened up in Switzerland, the first foreign firm in Zurich.
In 1996, the very year Mercosul, the trade block was created, the Buenos Aires offices of Noronha Advogados were opened. In 1998, the Los Angeles, USA, offices were inaugurated with a reception at the Beverly Hills Hotel. In 2001, the Shanghai, China offices were started, the first Latin firm in China, followed by a Beijing office more recently. In the past two years, offices in Johannesburg and New Delhi were created.
Thus, Noronha Advogados became the first global firm originating in a developing country, a pioneer in many areas and a driving force in the support of the rule of law. From the original five Brazilian interests in Florida, only Banco do Brasil and Noronha Advogados remain. Brazil is today Florida’s main trade partner and a substantial Brazilian population contributes to the progress of that part of the world.
Lawyer admitted in Brazil, England and Wales and Portugal. GATT and WTO panelist. Brazilian government ad-hoc representative for the Uruguay Round of the GATT. Post-graduation professor of the law of international trade.