When traveling to other countries, visitors are often concerned not only about understanding and obeying local laws, but finding legal representation should that need arise. In the case of Brazil, South America’s largest country, many Western visitors would not find themselves in unfamiliar territory. Brazil is a country that bases its national government on the “Roman” tradition, similar to Great Britain, the United States, and other countries. This means that the country’s legal system is broken down into various levels. In the case of Brazil, as with other countries, this means that there is a federal, state, and municipal (local) system.
While the basic framework for all these systems is consistent and based on federal law, such law is modified to meet the practicalities of local government. While in theory someone with a legal degree could effortlessly move back and forth between these levels, the reality is that it would take decades of scholarship to become proficient at each. As with many other professions, attorneys generally specialize.
Since law is such an intricate profession, it’s fortunate that Brazilians are so passionate about it. Changes to the country’s constitution in the 1980s made it easier than ever before for “little” people to file lawsuits. As a result, people poured into Brazilian courtrooms in unprecedented numbers, causing a litigation backlog of several years in smaller communities. Fortunately, while it is increasingly difficult to find a judge with an open docket, there is no such shortage of lawyers in Brazil. With numbers just under a million, Brazil makes the top five of the”Countries With The Most Lawyers” list. It should be noted that Brazil’s numbers only reflect licensed lawyers. There are thousands of potential lawyers in Brazil who are still studying law or who have not yet taken bar exams.
Given the size of the country, a single regulating body oversees professional legal conduct throughout it. Known as the Brazilian Bar Association or Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil (OAB), the OAB also oversees law school curriculum. Law school admittance is determined by an exam known as a vestibular to high school students by individual universities, or by taking a national OAB approved exam. Once admitted, students can generally expect a five year undergraduate course of study. However, in recent years, the OAB has detected a decline in educational quality at many schools, simply due to the efforts of these institutions to push through huge volumes of students. As the OAB makes reforms, the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), Law School of São Paulo (DIREITO GV), and Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) are currently the country’s top law schools.
And one of Brazil’s top attorneys is Ricardo Tosto de Oliveira Carvalho. Tosto is a business litigation attorney with more than two decades of experience, and is the founding partner of one of Brazil’s largest and most successful law practices. He has represented both private and commercial clients in banking contracts, business restructuring, acquisition review, and bankruptcy among other fields. He has also been a respected and policy changing voice within the OAB, actually influencing Brazillian law. Despite an aggressive courtroom style, Tosto is also noted for his grace and respect, and is well respected by peers and judges. This plus his winning record and legal expertise makes him a lawyer to choose whether you’re a local or a visitor in Brazil.