Being a lawyer is a very popular profession among Brazilians, but becoming one is not really simple. Among the many requirements needed to carry out the profession, being subscribed to OAB is the most important for those who want to legally act before a Law Court and provide legal consultation. In this article, we will take a look at what is OAB.
The Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil, Portuguese for Order of Attorneys of Brazil, OAB, is the Brazilian Bar association. It was founded in 1930 and is responsible for the regulation of the lawyer profession in the country. Its national headquarters are in Brasília.
As of July 2014, the OAB has 896.111 collaborators, of which 822.160 are registered lawyers who passed the OAB examination. The remaining 73.951 are composed of trainees and supplementary employees. The main contributor to OAB’s numbers is the state of São Paulo, with more than 250.000 lawyers and more than 17.000 other workers, followed by Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais.
University graduates of Law who wish to act on behalf of clients before a Law Court must be registered at OAB. Only those who are duly registered can provide legal consultation and appear before the Court. The OAB is an organization independent from the government, but it has some public powers, which include disciplinary action over its members.
It is up to the National Commission of Legal Education of the OAB Federal Council to accredit and authorize Universities that comply with the qualifications set for the issuing of a Law degree. The Universities also have to conform with the regulations of the federal Ministry of Education
Although some OAB functions - like regulating, supervising, directing and disciplining a category of professional workers - may look like the role of a professional council, OAB is technically not a professional council: In the past it was a federal autarchy, but nowadays OAB is an independent organization. It is autonomous, has benefits of tributary exemption and registration as a lawyer to OAB is made upon being successful in the OAB Examination.
OAB has a Federal Council, that centralizes decisions that need to be made around the country. In each state there are the Sections of Order, or Sectional Councils, and each one of them are composed of several Subsections that bring together many municipalities. This structure was implemented in 1963 and further improved in 1994 and is as follows:
- The Federal Council, with headquarters in Brasília, is the supreme body of the OAB, where all cases that were dispatched to higher courts are handled. Its first meeting was held on March 6, 1933
- Sectional Councils, hosted in each state, perform and observe all the powers and functions assigned by the Federal Council to them
- Subsections, regional bodies of OAB, that are responsible for making effective the resolutions of OAB
- Lawyers Assistance Bodies, designed to assist registered members in the Sectional Council
The OAB Examination is carried out throughout the country and usually occurs two or three times a year, normally in January, March and September. The Exam is considered difficult and requires a good deal of preparation from students that are applying for it.
Composed by two sections, the OAB Exam first presents 80 multiple choice questions that must be answered by the applicants. In order to be approved for the next section, at least 40 questions must be answered correctly. The second step is based on the candidate's preferences, he or she can choose to focus in administrative, civil, constitutional, labor, corporate, criminal or tax law.
With a chosen subject, the candidate must answer five essay questions and a written motion, with a pass mark of 60%. After getting approved in the OAB Examination, the Law graduate is registered to OAB and is finally free and legally able to exercise its profession. A report made based on the results of the last eight OAB examinations stated that only 18,5% of the candidates pass the test on their first try.