WLG Member Firm Spotlight: PLMJ

Published on Apr 30, 2020



1) Please share a brief history of the firm.

PLMJ was founded back at the end of the 1960s with the association between António Maria Pereira and Luís Sáragga Leal, who were joined in the next decade by Francisco de Oliveira Martins and José Miguel Júdice.

Over the decades that followed, generations of great lawyers have joined PLMJ’s founding partners to pursue the goals of this firm. All of them have contributed to its growth, solidity, modernization and future vision.

In 2017, we celebrated a very important milestone: our first 50 years in the service of society and justice. We are now looking ahead to the next 50 years with the determination to keep on supporting our clients in all their challenges, and to keep our focus on internationalization and specialization.

2) What are your firm's key strengths?

We are a law firm based in Portugal that combines full service with bespoke legal craftsmanship. We support our clients in all areas of the law, often with multidisciplinary teams, and always act as a business partner in the most strategic decision-making processes. We are a business-oriented firm and work as an extension of our clients’ teams, knowing their businesses and sharing their risks and aspirations. Regardless of the complexity of the case, we seek to help companies overcome the challenges they face.

We are one of the largest firms in Portugal and, for over five decades, we have played a key role as legal advisers in the highest profile transactions and matters taking place in Portugal.
Our vision is to be the go-to firm for all Portuguese-speaking countries by having multidisciplinary teams of lawyers specialising in different legal systems, with profound knowledge of local cultures. Through PLMJ Colab, we have created a collaborative network with offices and firms in other countries, such as Angola and Mozambique, with cultural and strategic ties to Portugal.

3) What are the types of clients you work with?

We are a full-service firm, so we support clients in all practice areas, sectors and locations. However, our strategic focus is providing services to large Portuguese and international companies and financial institutions.

Although we are a Portuguese firm, 40% of our clients are international and being where they need us to be, either directly or through partnerships, has always been our priority.

4) Tell us about any big news or changes in the firm in the last year (New Practice Areas, New Management, etc.)

One of the most important changes in the last few months was our moving to a new office in April 2019, and we are now working in the most iconic new building in Lisbon. The move coincided with the launch of our new branding with a disruptive new logo and the motto “Transformative Legal Experts”.

PLMJ has already made big changes in 2020. In April, the firm evolved to a management model with two managing partners. Bruno Ferreira joined Luís Pais Antunes at the head of the firm’s board of directors.

In addition, the board of directors, which took office in September 2018, has now been strengthened with new partners. It now has nine members: Luís Pais Antunes and Bruno Ferreira as co-managing partners, André Figueiredo, Bárbara Godinho Correia, Duarte Schmidt Lino, Eduardo Nogueira Pinto, Miguel C. Reis, Ricardo Oliveira and Rita Samoreno Gomes.

In January of this year, the firm also announced the creation of its new Technology, Mobility and Communications practice. This new team is headed by Pedro Lomba and Jorge Silva Martins and it replaces the Technology and Privacy team.

The Technology, Mobility and Communications team deals with a broad range of problems, operations and sectors linked to the information society and the digital economy. It advises clients on all legal aspects of communications, the Internet, mobility, technology, advertising, intellectual and industrial property, e-commerce, privacy, and data protection.

5) What is the business environment like in Portugal and how do you see that changing in the future?

This is a difficult question to answer in the context of the COVID-19 crisis… Recent years have been very positive for Portugal. The country had achieved political and fiscal stability, and it was enjoying its highest economic growth in nearly two decades, fueled by record tourism, an upswing in the housing market, a growing tech sector and strong exports.

Portugal has had one of the best and quickest responses to the pandemic and results have been extremely positive. Nonetheless, it remains to be seen how the economy will react when activities resume.

6) From a business perspective, what trends are you seeing in terms of work in new or different industries?

From less-traditional industries (up to now!), we could highlight our activity in technology-fueled mobility, cannabis and impact finance industries.

7) Where do you see opportunities with member firms in Portugal? Share both inbound investment and outbound work (where are Portuguese companies expanding?).

Again, it is impossible to respond without taking the current crisis into consideration. Some of the growing sectors, such as tourism, are now the most affected. Having said that, as with any crisis, there will always be opportunities, be it to invest in businesses in distress or supporting new ventures created to respond to the new demands of the market.

8) Tell us about some recent collaborations with other WLG member firms and your experience with those.

Recently, we have worked with Herzog Fox & Neeman and ENSafrica. Both experiences went really well and have originated more work, a clear sign that the collaboration was positive for both firms.
We have a long-standing relationship with ENSafrica which tends to focus on corporate, tax and regulatory matters, touching on several business sectors, such as banking and finance, TMT and maritime. ENSafrica’s teams are usually very easy to work with regardless of the seniority of the ENS point of contact.

9) How did your firm come to join WLG? What has your experience been like?

PLMJ joined WLG at the Istanbul Conference back in 2011. We were introduced by José Luís de Salles Freire, founding partner of TozziniFreire, our associates in Brazil since the 90’s, and we were warmly welcomed by all member firms.

Ever since that date, we have actively participated in most Semi-Annual Conferences and various initiatives of WLG, benefiting from the broad exchange of useful information and experiences between member firms throughout the world.

We value our participation in WLG as it provides immediate access to highly specialised lawyers, in leading independent law firms in numerous jurisdictions, fostered by the unique personal relationship developed over the years amongst the delegates of the member firms.

10) Share any unique initiatives by the firm for the community or CSR or any notable charitable efforts.

PLMJ has a long history of social projects. Our social impact strategy is based on four pillars:

  1. Pro bono legal assistance: Our lawyers work to bridge the gaps that exist in universal access to justice and quality legal services through our pro bono work. We support non-profit organizations and organizations that help resolve social problems, including environmental problems.
  2. Cultural intervention: Cultural production is a significant social challenge, especially in Portuguese speaking countries. PLMJ’s contribution is made primarily through the PLMJ Foundation, which has a unique role in promoting visual arts, by creating an art collection and by supporting young artists from Portugal and from African countries whose official language is Portuguese.
  3. Impact investing: Impact investing involves investments intended, together with a financial return, to generate measurable positive environmental and social impact through innovative solutions. PLMJ’s involvement with the impact investing sector includes helping to set up the first social entrepreneurship company and the first fund in Portugal, as well as partnering with Maze-X, a social impact start-up accelerator.
  4. Philanthropy and volunteerism: Philanthropy involves making a contribution, financial or otherwise, to generate a measurable, positive environmental or social impact, without seeking any financial return. We regularly organise volunteer programs for our people to help at non-profit organizations.

More recently, in the current international situation due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, PLMJ has contributed to and coordinated with Gotan SGPS an initiative by eight companies to donate 126 ventilators to the National Health Service to strengthen the capacity of a number of intensive care units in Portugal.

We also contributed in the most recent ONU report on “Good practices on the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment”. Our firm contributed with a section on the Portuguese legislation applicable to these practices.