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Pedro Rebelo de Sousa

Founder of SRS Advogados

He founded SRS Advogados, one of the most respected companies in the country, also with offices in Angola, Brazil, Macau, Malta, Mozambique and Singapore. Before that, however, his career was more diverse, spread throughout the world, in which he absorbed a little of various cultures and took on prominent positions, such as the presidency of Banco Fonsecas & Burnay; vice-presidency of Citibank in New York and São Paulo and partner and administrator of the international law firm Simmons & Simmons. He confesses that his family legacy has weighed on him at times, as he is the son of Baltasar Rebelo de Sousa, but he now sees as something behind him, even with his brother Marcelo being the president of Portugal.
Pedro Rebelo de Sousa
Being part of a family in the public eye and positions of responsibility, did you feel at some point in your life that you had to live up to expectations?
When I was born, my father entered the government, so in childhood and adolescence I felt the need to live up to certain expectations. Our education was always very clear: goals established and trying to set a good example. In adulthood, I felt this much less, seeing as I spent 15 years between Brazil and New York. On my return, in 1990, as chairman of a bank, I felt this pressure again. In my current life, after more than 25 years of returning to law and holding positions in corporate bodies of companies and institutions, I confess that it is less.

Besides Portugal, you have lived in Mozambique, Brazil and the United States. What have you kept with you from each country?
From Mozambique, I retain the fascination of the African pairing of light and time, so different from Europeans. From Brazil, I retain the true dimension and future of the Portuguese-speaking world. There, I realized that Portuguese, mixing with other peoples, created something unique and passionate, a melting pot with much less racial and social discrimination than in the United States. From New York, which does not correspond at all to the United States, I learned about the centrality of the capitalist world and its consequences in a time of great prosperity.

As you know banking well, do you think the sector has learned its lesson from the last crisis?
It is too early to say whether the financial sector has learned its lesson. I think it has become more attentive to certain situations and correspondingly less vulnerable. I also believe that regulators are equally more focused and equipped to prevent and respond to crises like the one we had. However, we cannot deceive ourselves, there are still critical endogenous and external risk factors.
«Our education was always very clear: goals established and trying to set a good example»
What are the greatest challenges facing today’s legal profession?
The identity of the profession in its essential aspects, such as standing, including its own acts, attorney-client privileg, publicity, protection of rights and access to and functioning of justice. With regard to corporate legal practice aimed at the business world, we have challenges such as specialisation and internationalisation. Multidisciplinarity and making this compatible with risk management criteria and conflicts of interest is another matter. And, undoubtedly, the greatest challenge of dealing with legal practice in the digital age.

Your firm SRS Advogados is already more than 25 years old. What do you still need to do in this area?
The situation is dynamic. We have to look to the future with the challenges that arise from the markets in which we operate. The context that applied artificial intelligence is creating, together with new technologies, require SRS to rethink how it operates. In its current model, where the future is full of variables that are difficult to predict, it is vital that we always look inside the institutions and confirm that the sedimentation of the respective culture requires that we have employees who are adaptable but self-confident, guaranteeing the soundness of those who believe in the project and their capabilities. This is what we try to do, generation after generation.

T. Sérgio Gomes da Costa
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