The lawyer profession is very popular among Brazilians, but becoming one is not really simple. This article will outline what it takes to become a lawyer in Brazil.
Brazilian Law is a Hybrid System
Brazilian Law originated based on Portuguese Law, due to its colonization by this European country. In 1822 Brazil became independent, and only then was the country able to create its own legal system. Autonomous legal institutions needed to be created, as well as legal professionals starting to be requested and educated. The first Brazilian law schools were established in the year of 1827 in São Paulo city and Olinda (in the State of Recife).
The Portuguese roots of the Brazilian legal system hasn’t hindered the existence of other foreign influences in the Brazilian legal system. For example, civil law started with a French influence, during the 19th Century the Brazilian Civil Code was pretty much based on the Napoleonic Code, but with time it evolved to have German influences in the 20th Century.
Nowadays the country’s Civil Code is based on the Italian Civil Code. The foreign tendencies followed by the Civil Code of Brazil are just a part of the law system in the country, but they represent pretty well how the Brazilian system is hybrid.
How to Become a Lawyer in the Country
- Pass Vestibular
- Get a Graduation Degree
- Pass the National Bar Examination.
Vestibular and University Matters
The Brazilians universities only accepted students approved in an examination named Vestibular. Every high school graduate student must pass that exam to get into a college graduation. Vestibular is administered by each university, but since 2009 educational institutions gained the possibility to combine their examination with a national examination promoted and organized by the Brazilian Government named as ENEM (High School National Exam).
After that step, the student is finally enrolled in a University. Usually getting a law degree doesn't exceed a duration of five years and is offered by private and public universities, since they are authorized and accredited by the National Commission of Legal Education of the OAB Federal Council and observe the regulation of the federal Ministry of Education (MEC).
Set of Mandatory Subjects
Each University is very autonomous when talking about its internal academic organization and curricula, but the National Council of Education (CNE) prescribed that some subjects are compulsory. They are classified into three axes:
- Basic Education Axis: comprised subjects related to areas of knowledge linked to law, political sciences, economics, philosophy, sociology are good examples of subjects included on it.
- Professional Education Axis: what is basically learned in the subjects requested in this axis are legal terms. Subjects like constitutional law, administrative law, international law and others are part of the Professional Education.
- Practical Education Axis: this axis is one of the most important because it integrates everything that were learned in the first two axis to the real practice of the law profession. Plus, 250 hours of complementary activities and 300 hours of mandatory vocational training are requested in this axis.
Internship is Necessary
Besides the vocational training provided by the Universities, law students must also develop complementary activities, and an internship is highly recommended to fill that obligation. Law firms, companies and any other organization that provides practical activities related to the law profession are the most recommended for the students.
Introduction to OAB
OAB is the abbreviation of the Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil, or Brazilian Bar Association, an organization responsible by the regulation of the Brazilian legal profession. Every college student is only formally recognized as a lawyer and able to develop its profession, not after its graduation as a Bachelor of Laws, but after they have been approved in the Brazilian Bar Examination.
Brazilian Bar Examination
The OAB Examination is applied in the whole country and usually occurs two or three times throughout the year, in January, March and September. The Exam is very difficult and require good preparation from the 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 Bachelors. 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 law, civil law, constitutional law, labor law, corporate law, criminal law 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 approved in OAB Examination, the Bachelor is finally free and legally able to exercise its profession.