Bringing Startup Culture To Law In Brazil
By Vela Wood
For the second year in a row, our firm participated in the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Professional Fellow Program. YLAI seeks to empower entrepreneurs from Latin America and the Caribbean to launch and advance their entrepreneurial ideas in order to contribute to the social and economic development of their communities.
YLAI selects 250 entrepreneurs (out of 2500 applicants) from Latin America and the Caribbean to participate in a four-week fellowship with a US company in their field of expertise.
Fabio Cendão is an entrepreneur and attorney from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Kevin was selected to be Fabio’s fellowship mentor and Vela Wood served as his host.
Below is our Q&A with Fabio regarding his fellowship, his work in Brazil, and his time at Vela Wood and in Dallas.
VW: The YLAI Fellowship is a four-week program in the States. Why did you feel this fellowship was worth going abroad for a month?
FC: It was an incredible opportunity to see how a law firm works in the same area as mine here in Dallas. It’s certainly worth a lot and all the experience and contacts will be great for me and my firm. For this to be possible, I counted on the support of my partners and all my team in Brazil.
VW: Tell us about your law firm, Faria, Cendão & Maia Advogados (FCMLAW).
FC: Faria, Cendão & Maia Advogados is an innovative and non-traditional law firm focused on startups and entrepreneurs. We provide legal services through methods, tools, and technology to simplify the understanding of law. Our practice is focused on corporate law – including contracts, transactions, and fundraising – M&A, and IP.
VW: How does your firm, FCMLAW, seek to be innovative?
FC: We do not position ourselves as a traditional law firm and we try to cultivate the innovative culture of a startup, from our attire, work environment (no separation by title), collaborative spaces, as well as the language and methods that we use with our clients and the whole community.
We also provide uncomplicated content for entrepreneurs, use our own innovative methods, and we are very flexible in our practice, using the entrepreneurial culture with the law.
One of the tools we’ve created is the “Legal Canvas for Startups,” inspired by the practical and visual concepts of the Business Model Canvas, to help entrepreneurs organize the legal aspects of their startups.
VW: What is the startup community like in Rio, compared to Dallas?
FC: The Rio startup ecosystem is not the strongest in Brazil, but it has been growing a lot in the last couple years with the arrival of accelerators, investors, and financing and the growth of new startups and events about technology and entrepreneurship (WeWork spaces, BNDES state bank funding for startups, headquarters of AB2L – Brazilian Association of Legaltechs and Lawtechs, etc).
The Dallas ecosystem is already more developed and has great infrastructure for these tech companies, as well as is already familiar with the culture of venture capital, something that is growing gradually in Rio de Janeiro, although we already have good cases of successful startups and investment operations.
VW: Tell us about your startup, YourBase.
FC: YourBase emerged from a project in conjunction with the software development company YourDev. YourDev participated in the Legal Hack 2017, a legal hackathon promoted by my firm. After the event, we decided to incubate them in our office and from this partnership we created YourBase, initially focused on solving an internal problem of our law firm.
YourBase is a startup focused on knowledge management and simplifying the routine of lawyers by facilitating the search and elaboration of legal documents, automating part of the tasks and facilitating the efficient use of the content produced by lawyers and law firms.
VW: What was your biggest takeaway from your fellowship that you will apply to your firm?
FC: The experience I gained this past month, working with the most recognized and competent legal firm for startups in Dallas, will certainly enable me to help startups in the internationalization of their businesses, which is very important to these scalable models. The partnership is already being implemented and we are starting to build a relationship in which we and our customers (USA and Brazil) can benefit. It was also great to understand the dynamics of work and operational practices, as well as the partnership and positioning in the market that may be useful for my firm.
VW: What was your biggest takeaway as an individual, that will improve your practice as an attorney and entrepreneur?
FC: Kevin’s story as an entrepreneur in his own law firm is amazing, and I believe his perseverance and success with Vela Wood, despite all the difficulties, inspired me a lot to continue my career with my partners in Brazil. We have a similar trajectory in some respects and I will try to apply Kevin’s advice to my business, my partners, and our operation and strategies of growth.
VW: What was your favorite part about working at Vela Wood?
FC: The team. Vela Wood has a really great work environment, is innovative, collaborative, committed and, from what I saw, very competent and up to date. I can’t ignore the “4:13pm meeting” twice a week, in which all members participate, get updates about the work and can tell fun facts and personal things about their lives.
VW: What was your favorite experience during your time here?
FC: I really liked attending Kevin’s Mentor Coffee Session at RevTech. And I was very lucky to be here during the State Fair of Texas, it was amazing. I also enjoyed the Cowboys game!