This feature is part of an ongoing series celebrating the diverse array of University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School students who make up our Law School’s uniquely collegial academic community. Together, students at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School engage in rich academic discussions, push the boundaries of contemporary legal thought, and work collaboratively toward our shared goal of upholding principles of justice locally, nationally, and around the world.
Delmar Cunha Siqueira LLM’22 is from Recife, Brazil. He graduated in 2002 with a law degree from Universidade Católica de Pernambuco. In 2004, he obtained a Certificate of Special Studies in Business and Administration from Harvard Extension School. With twenty years of practice, he is an equity partner, co-manager, and director of Urbano Vitalino Advogados, one of the largest law firms in Brazil. As co-head of the corporate and M&A and white-collar crimes teams, he is experienced in corporate matters, M&A transactions, corporate governance, and corporate crimes such as corruption, money laundering, environmental crimes, and frauds. Chambers and Partners Latin America Guide has ranked him as a highly recognized corporate and commercial practitioner in the Northeast region of Brazil. He enjoys music, movies, traveling and sports, especially CrossFit, running, and kiteboarding.
What were you doing prior to coming to Penn?
I had been working as a junior partner in a well-known law firm in the Northeast region of Brazil, when in 2007 I decided to start a law firm with two other junior partners. We started very small, without any clients, and the initial plan was to have at least six months of cash flow with zero revenues and a personal cash flow of at least six months. We grew pretty fast, and we were recognized for doing very high-quality work.
In 2013, we merged with another firm, they needed specialties that we had in corporate law, administrative law, and strategic litigation. We had a fast and steady growth as a result of investment in technology. To attend the needs of our clients, we shifted our practice focus to consumer and labor law. There is huge demand for these areas of legal expertise in Brazil, so we decided to focus on these areas.
In 2016, due to a lot of corruption cases in Brazil, we decided to start the white-collar crime practice in our firm, and I was appointed the head of this practice. My partner Urbano Vitalino Neto is our CEO, and I am responsible for both the transactional part of the practice and what we call “strategic legal services.” Presently, we are a national legal service brand in Brazil, not only a regional one. We are present in 13 major Brazilian cities, and we are frequently ranked among the top 10 or top 15 law firms in Brazil.
What inspired you to pursue your law LLM degree?
This was a dream that was put on standby for quite a while. To be honest, I wasn’t even thinking about an LLM at the time, but I came to the U.S. in August of 2018 with my partner to meet some law firms in New York and establish relationships. I had a great friend who was working at Quinn Emanuel after completing his LLM at Duke. I was talking to him, and I said, ‘Oh man, this was a dream that I had,’ and he started provoking me, asking, ‘Why was it a dream? Why don’t you do it? Why don’t you make it real?’
One of the reasons I decided to do an LLM now is because I was in a position in my career where I was able to take a year off. The second reason was that I really wanted to accomplish this dream. The third reason is that I really thought it would be beneficial for my law firm. We are recognized in Brazil, but I thought the LLM program would be a good opportunity for me to also broaden our relationships with international firms and international attorneys.
So far, it has been a great experience for me as an attorney and as a person. I’ve lived in different countries; I’ve spent time within different cultures. I love the idea of getting to know different people with different backgrounds.
What aspects of your University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School experience have you found most influential so far?
It’s great that Penn Carey Law has the Pre-Term Program, because it’s particularly good for getting adapted to the new routine and the new city without already being overwhelmed by the fall semester. “Foundations of U.S. Legal System” is an amazing course, especially for those of us who do not come from a common law background.
I don’t have enough words to compliment Professor of Law Elizabeth Pollman, who taught “Corporations.” She’s an amazing professor, and she’s not a distant scholar. She’s a real person who is very accessible and very enthusiastic about her work. When I was researching professors and choosing an LLM Program, Professor Pollman’s work in corporate law was one of the reasons that Penn Carey Law stood out.
It was a challenge for me to take a litigation course, especially because U.S. litigation is completely different from Brazil, but I wanted to understand what stockholders litigate, why they litigate, and what the issues are. When Lecturer in Law Joel Friedlander’s “Stockholder Litigation” course started, I made comparisons in my head to the labor lawsuits in Brazil, and I made connections between what I was learning with Professor Pollman, and I really saw that stockholder litigation was a necessary remedy and necessary weapon for the shareholders to protect their rights as investors in companies.
I also enjoyed “Antitrust” with [James G. Dinan Univeristy] Professor Herb Hovenkamp. I have some background knowledge in antitrust in Brazil due to previous experience in M&A deals. It was very good to understand the major issues and how antitrust law in the U.S. covers a broader spectrum of rights than in Brazil.
This spring, I’m taking “Corruption, Fraud and Corporate Crime” with Lecturer in Law Steve Lee and Partner at Boies Schiller Flexner John Zach, and I’m having a lot of fun. It’s very dynamic. It’s a seminar, so it’s also small — maybe eight to ten JDs and LLMs. We are discussing the major issues related to corporate crime, and I think this is how I get the adrenaline of litigation back into my life — with white collar practice — so I’m really having fun with this course.
In what ways has Penn augmented your understanding of how the law intersects with the public interest?
I’ve been working in corporate compliance for at least 10 years. Everybody that has a business — and my law firm is a business — has a social responsibility. It was an amazing opportunity to be in the “ESG: Environmental, Social, and Governance Initiatives” class with Presidential Professor Lisa Fairfax and to discuss ESG, which is such a hot topic here in the U.S., and to see how big corporations are being pressed by shareholders and consumers to really take a stand and help society in environmental social issues. I’m going to go back to Brazil with a lot of ideas, as a managing partner of the firm. Sometimes it’s hard to change habits and to change culture, but let’s hope I can influence my firm to be more responsible socially and to help to transform more lives.
What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
I was a complete nerd as a teenager and as a young adult. I think people who know me now have no idea, but I was so shy that I would not start a conversation with almost anyone.
What is your favorite thing to do in Philly?
The thing that I have most loved to do here has been sitting down with friends for a drink — and to just talk or make jokes. I deferred from the class of 2021 because of the pandemic, and one of the main reasons was that I was not going to have a “half experience.” At this stage in my life, the point is to live in Philadelphia and to meet people. Obviously, I could have done the program online, but it’s not the same thing. I wouldn’t be in class with the JDs and the LLMs. I wouldn’t be in the courtyard. I wouldn’t be going out to have a drink. To be with people is my favorite thing to do here. It’s good to be in Philly.