Aquila’s legal eagle in Portugal

The word Aquila means eagle and the firm’s head of legal for Portugal, Catarina Gamito, reveals all about the inhouse team at Aquila Capital Portugal and her advice for young lawyers progressing in their careers

by michael heron 

Catarina Gamito’s career has been quite a journey since she started in-house at Siemens in 2010. Upon graduating from law school, Gamito was a junior lawyer at Miranda for three years, before moving to PLMJ, then DLA Piper ABBC and ending up in her current role at Alquila Capital. The trend has clearly been an international focus on her practice and in her own words, “PLMJ was where I caught the renewables bug—like falling in love at first sight, but with PV modules and wind turbines instead of roses.” In this interview, we gain insight into the legal department at Aquila Capital in Portugal, how Gamito’s team works with external counsel, as well as her advice to younger lawyers deciding on how to shape their careers.

Aquila Group manages €14.6 billion on behalf of institutional investors worldwide, with a focus on clean energy and sustainable infrastructure. What can you tell us about Portugal?

Aquila Group, through its investment management company Aquila Capital, is managing several assets in Portugal, ranging from Solar and small-hydro power plants in operation to green logistics assets. We also develop a Solar portfolio of around 650 MWp in different development stages. However, what truly stands out for me is the wealth of experience within the team, not just in Portugal but throughout the entire organisation. Working closely with them has been a tremendous learning opportunity (a true masterclass). Additionally, our team in Portugal is young and vibrant, and the company culture fosters an amazing collaborative environment between all internal stakeholders, which makes the legal team’s work more challenging but also a lot more rewarding.

What is a typical day for you in your legal team?

You know, when I first switched to an in-house role, I worried it might be as exciting as watching paint dry. I was completely wrong! It is high-paced, highly specialised and requires a lot of soft-skills, as I need to deal with and manage a lot of different people. Our work spans from contract negotiations all the way to interacting with public stakeholders and discussing project development strategies – it’s a rollercoaster ride of legal fun. And let’s not forget the field trips to project sites.

What percentage of the legal work do you externalise to outside counsel and what is your criteria in selecting them?

This is the eternal question—how much of the heavy lifting do we let someone else do? I’d say about 20% of our workload gets the external counsel treatment. We’re pickier than a kid in a candy store when it comes to choosing them, though. We need a team that’s not just legally savvy – it has to have sector specific knowledge and experience, the responsiveness of an Uber delivery guy (with priority charge) and be really practical and straight to the point.  

What is important to you when working with outside counsel and what frustrates you the most?


Julia Gil