Read our exclusive interview with high profiling lawyer Aloizio Ribeiro Lima of law firm Lefosse Advogados who discusses the challenges around diversity and inclusion in Brazilian firms and the market.
An insiders view on diversity and inclusion across the legal market in Brazil
Chambers Brazil researcher Ana Brandt, who has recently concluded her LLM in Human Rights at University College London, interviews the winner of our latest Latin America Outstanding Contribution to Diversity & Inclusion award, Aloizio Lima.
As a leading lawyer working for one of the most established and well respected law firms in Brazil, Lefosse Advogados, Alozio speaks about his experience in promoting D&I internally and externally, the challenges of such initiatives in Brazil’s legal community and the people who helped and inspired him.
What is the biggest challenge to implementing D&I policies in Brazilian law firms?
Diversity is one of my firm's core values. It takes conscious action, a genuine desire on the part of the organization and its members to make the work environment diverse and inclusive.
One of the biggest challenges to implementing D&I policies is breaking the barriers, prejudices, and taboos. I think that only through awareness and education on D&I themes can we give our professionals the opportunity to expand their worldview, educate them, and develop empathy for D&I causes.
We must emphasize that in addition to awareness of D&I matters, we must promote real inclusion and career development. It is not enough to just bring diversity to the firm. We must ensure that professionals have a sense of belonging and feel the effective possibility for professional development and advancement. That is what makes investing in staff preparation and engagement worth it, at all hierarchical levels, so that our culture provides a truly welcoming and inclusive environment.
In what aspects do you think Brazilian law firms are doing well, and what would be the next frontier in terms of meeting D&I goals?
One positive aspect in Brazilian law firms has been the concern and constant debates about D&I topics. The interest in creating and/or establishing a plural environment has been increasing on the agenda in law firms, regardless of their size.
However, this interest must be followed by effective actions, focusing on the hiring of professionals and, especially in the guaranteeing of a welcoming and conducive environment for professional development and career progression, and, consequently, a greater representativeness in senior leadership positions.
When receiving the Latin America Outstanding Contribution to Diversity & Inclusion award, you mentioned several inspiring figures. What have you learned from them?
During my journey, I have had contact with people who were a great source of inspiration and learning for me. Alessandra Benedito, Thiago Amparo, Alexandra Loras, and Silvio Almeida shared their experiences and lessons they learned in their careers, as well as mistakes and examples of success in implementing D&I policies. Moreover, they encouraged and believed in my potential for transformation within the firm.
The African-Brazilian professionals in the firm were also essential for my understanding and awareness of D&I, especially about racial causes, bringing a different perspective and shedding a light on my unconscious biases and prejudices and provoking change.
Do you see space for joint effort within the legal community or are initiatives incipient?
There are already initiatives among law firms to deal with D&I, such as the Aliança Jurídica pela Equidade Racial (Legal Alliance for Racial Equity), the actions of CESA – Centro de Estudos das Sociedades de Advogados and the bar association Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil - OAB, which, for example, promote debates within several firms and lawyers.
Many experiences are already exchanged between law firms and companies’ in-house departments, jointly seeking the best actions and ways to implement policies. Despite being a movement that started with large firms, smaller firms have followed suit and structured positive actions in D&I.