We took the road less travelled by

During our last weekly lawyers meeting, my partner Renata, in charge of distributing the monthly articles among the lawyers, commented that she would write the month of July (previously assigned to me) so that I could write the article for the month of August, which is the month of the firm’s anniversary – 11 years… I thought to myself: what would I write about? My partner Daniel suggested that I drink a few Negronis to get some inspiration, a suggestion I would kindly consider!

That was Monday. On Thursday of the same week, just prior to a holiday, I received an email from the owner of a company that my client was auditing to acquire. When reading the e-mail (I’ll report the subject shortly), I came across some simple and objective questions. Why do we do what we do? What is the meaning of all this? Why do keep on with the firm after 11 years?

The email was a sincere and honest outburst. The entrepreneur was at a hospital in a very delicate time of his personal life and reflected a little of the balance, or lack thereof, between his personal and professional life and the reason he decided to do business in such a hostile environment, but with many opportunities, such as Brazil. The other day I read a sentence adapted from “Brazil is not for amateurs” – “Brazil forces me to drink”. I won’t go into the details of the outburst to preserve the person and his story, but I was very touched. I started to reflect on the purpose of creating the office and what motivates me daily to maintain it with the same passion and determination as of day one. What is the reason or purpose (to use a word that is being used widespread) for all of this? At the same time, I remembered the existential dissertation that I chose to write in my last year of school, with the following title: “I think, therefore I am”.

It wasn’t easy, it’s not easy and it won’t be easy. When we made the decision to create a boutique M&A law firm, we faced a lot of resistance. Despite countless arguments to the contrary, we maintained our decision, which was never called into question by us, our wives or by the other partners and members of the firm. Despite all the mistakes, successes, challenges and achievements of the last 11 years (object of a doctoral thesis!), spending valuable time with everyone in the office, with clients and with advisors made all the difference.

We learn from mistakes, value our successes, face our challenges and celebrate our achievements. The emotion I feel when we win a bid or when we close a transaction is the same as that of the first day of the firm. To this day, I remember a call from a representative of a fund (which is still our client), in the early days of Candido Martins, asking if we could take over 4 ongoing operations from another law firm and if I would be available for a conference call to discuss an investment agreement on the same day. I didn’t hesitate to confirm, despite being in Europe with a time zone of 5 hours ahead. I wake up every day with the same desire from day one and go to the office (today, to my home office desk) smiling! We have proven over 11 years that it is possible to compete with large firms in M&A transactions with the same (or even more) excellence and, certainly, much more dedication and always seeking our main value: CARING.

Going back to the story of the entrepreneur and his outburst. Right after reading the email, I called him to chat. I felt he simply wanted to talk. A mere detail: he was not my client, but the other party. The conversation took a few where I just listened and then he simply thanked my attention and said goodbye. A gesture that is long forgotten and I hope it comes back. Listening. Not just hearing to what is being said, but listening with attention and empathy. It reminds me of the classic film “White Men Can’t Jump,” when actor Wesley Snipes tells actor Woody Harrelson that he (actually, white men) can’t listen to Jimi Hendrix.

Right after the phone call, I started to question myself if over these 11 years I gave up spending more time with my family or if I stopped doing some other activity in favor of the firm. Absolutely yes. However, no regrets. I always made the most of the free time I had with my family and have been and still am happy.

I believe the Covid-19 pandemic forced us to rethink a little bit about what really matters in our lives. It goes without saying that my family (wife and 3 children) are the people I love and value the most every day! And, rethinking life in this period of pandemic, the conclusion I came to was this: having founded an office that seeks to TAKE CARE of clients, also allowed me to manage my time to TAKE CARE of my family, and enjoy moments with them . I wouldn’t be where I am without their unconditional support.

And, of course, I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t founded the firm with my dear partner and friend, Alamy. Without him, I doubt I would be where I am, personally and professionally fulfilled. And I know that we still have room for many more achievements with the office, not only with him, but with all its members. That’s what I’m counting on when I look ahead to what’s yet to come!

When I interviewed a candidate for my team in another office, I asked about their strengths, their shortcomings, and sometimes I applied a test. Today, after asking about their professional and personal lives (without going into too much detail, of course), I conclude with a simple question: “What makes you wake up every day and go to work with the same desire from day one?”

That’s it. In the words of the wise farmer, “Good or bad, hard to say.” Now I’m going to prepare my second or third Negroni. Good morning or good night!

Por Henrique Martins,

Sócio de Candido Martins advogados.