Leading international law firm Mayer Brown today announced it is expanding its geographic presence in Latin America and is in the process of establishing an office in São Paulo, Brazil. Stephen Hood, a lawyer with extensive international experience, particularly in the Brazilian legal community, will become a Partner of the firm and will run the office.

"Our expansion into Latin America represents another significant step forward in our global growth plans," said James D. Holzhauer, chairman of Mayer Brown. "We have actively represented clients in Brazil and throughout Latin America for more than 15 years but have done it from afar."

Holzhauer noted that Brazil is one of the world's fastest-growing financial markets and a country that continues to experience a surge in IPOs, infrastructure financing and cross-border acquisitions. Foreign investment in Brazilian businesses and real estate continues to be brisk. He added, "Mr. Hood is a tremendously well-respected and experienced lawyer with established legal and business relationships in Brazil that will immediately benefit our clients."

As to office growth, Holzhauer said the firm expects to add approximately a dozen lawyers in São Paulo over the next 18 months, complementing the 40 Latin American practice group lawyers who will continue to work from other Mayer Brown offices around the world. It is expected that lawyers in the São Paulo office will focus on foreign investment, debt and equity capital markets, structured finance, corporate transactions, infrastructure, trade and project finance. Lawyers will practice U.S. and English law only, and will continue close working relationships already established with major Brazilian law firms.

Commented Vice Chairman Paul Maher, "It is rewarding to be taking another step toward achieving our goals by establishing a long-term presence in São Paulo. Latin America, in particular, is a market of clear strategic importance to our clients' interests."

Mr. Hood joins Mayer Brown from Clifford Chance, where, since 1978, he was an equity partner. During that time, Mr. Hood served on the management committee as well as serving as Managing Partner of the Hong Kong office, the New York City office and, since 1999, the São Paulo office. Additionally, he was head of Clifford Chance's International Capital Markets group in London from 1986 to 1992.

"Mayer Brown is a dynamic firm that recognizes the benefits of providing local knowledge and expertise to its clients, which operate in complex legal and regulatory environments across the globe," said Mr. Hood. "The scale of the firm's services in the North American market, combined with its first class capability in London and other European cities, will be very attractive to the increasing number of Brazilian companies expanding abroad."