Brazil International Trade in Legal Services

Brazil International Trade in Legal Services

HOME COUNTRY LICENSING QUESTIONS

Is there legislation governing the legal sector

 

The practice of law in Brazil is regulated by means of a federal statute and enacting legislation: (1) The Brazilian Bar Association and Advocacy Statute, law number 8906, 4 July 1994 ; and (2) the Brazilian Bar Association's Code of Ethics and Discipline, which is also expressly sanctioned by law number 8906.  The federal statute delegates regulatory powers to the various Bar Associations and to the Brazilian Bar Association.

Under what title do lawyers practise?

Advogado - lawyer

How does an individual lawyer obtain a "licence" to practise law? How often must this be renewed?

 

In Brazil, law is taught as an undergraduate degree. It is normally structured as a five year course of study. Upon successful completion of the law degree students are awarded a Bachelor of Laws (Bacharel em Direito).   A Bachelor of Laws graduate must the pass the Brazilian Bar Examination in order to be admitted to the Brazilian Bar Association ( (Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil – OAB) and be licensed to practise.  The lawyer should then register with a State Chapter of the OAB.

Does this entitle the holder to practise throughout the country? If the law license only permits one to practice on a sub-national level, please explain the jurisdictional limits

Yes, the lawyer must be registered at the OAB State Chapter in the state where s/he resides and may have supplementary registration at other State Chapter, with an allowance of up to five legal cases per year in these supplementary states without any supplementary registration.

Are there certain activities that are "reserved" to those who are licensed to practise law in the jurisdiction?

Only lawyers registered with OAB have rights of audience in court and can provide advice on Brazilian law.

Do you need to hold local nationality to be eligible to practise law?

No

What legal forms can lawyers work in? (e.g. self employment, partnership, limited liability partnership, multi-disciplinary partnership, incorporation)

Multi-disciplinary partnerships are not allowed.  Brazilian law firms are organized as limited liability entities (but with unlimited liability of the partners with respect to losses attributed to the practice of law).  The association of lawyers with non-lawyers is prohibited.

What other ethical or regulatory requirements must a licensed lawyer comply with? 

Brazilian lawyers are also expected to observe a set of ethical and disciplinary rules imposed by the OAB Code of Ethics and Discipline.

Do law firms need to receive a "license" (or permission/approval) to practice law?

Law firms need to register with the OAB in the relevant state.

Which authority issues licences? Are there different authorities for individuals and firms? 

The body responsible for licensing Brazilian lawyers is the Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil (Brazilian Bar Association) - OAB 

   

INDIVIDUAL FOREIGN LAWYERS

Are there any explicit rules or restrictions other than visas on fly in fly out practice of law? Ie. Do you need to obtain a licence for temporary practice?

There is no requirement to register for activities permitted on a fly-in, fly out basis, insofar as there is no list defining these activities.

 

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a visa to visit clients or to market but not to practice?

People wishing to visit Brazil for a short period for the purpose of making or meeting with business contacts, attending trade fairs, speaking at conferences, or representing a foreign client, etc. are required to apply for a short-stay business visa, which is also valid for a stay of up to 90 days. Some countries are exempt from having to obtain a visa.

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a licence to establish and practise as a foreign legal consultant and what is the scope of this limited licence?

Foreign lawyers not requalified with OAB may work in Brazil but only as foreign legal consultants (consultor de direito estrangeiro) following authorization granted by the OAB. The consultant has very limited powers, being entitled solely to consultancy referring to the law from his original jurisdiction and international law.  In order to apply for this authorization, the foreign national must present evidence of (1) being regularly entitled to practise as a lawyer in his or her country, (2) having a Brazilian resident visa, (3) not having been convicted of a serious criminal offence nor having incurred a penalty applied by the respective Bar Association, and (4) having good reputation according to a certificate issued by the respective Bar Association and signed by three Brazilian lawyers. Additionally a proof of reciprocal treatment to Brazilian lawyers is mandatory.  The licence to practice consultancy on foreign law is valid for three years and is renewable for successive three-year terms.

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled once a foreign lawyer has been granted a limited licence (e.g. residency requirement)

Must have residency visa.

 

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled for a foreign lawyer to qualify for a limited licence? (e.g. prior practice)

Requirements can differ from state to state - the OAB can request to see additional documents such as your career history record.

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation? Foreign lawyers are allowed to serve as advocates in arbitral proceedings in Brazil. There is no need for a local lawyer to serve as co-counsel.
Are foreign lawyers allowed to appear in court under any circumstances?

No, not without requalifying

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers? Requalification is possible in Brazil. Foreign law graduates must meet all the requirements prescribed to Brazilian lawyers, including having passed the OAB Exam. A validation of the foreign degree is necessary prior to the admission to the OAB. It might be necessary to take some exams so that the candidate is considered able to receive a Brazilian Bachelor of Laws degree. Some courses might also be prescribed by the university as a requirement for the validation of the diploma.

FOREIGN LAW FIRMS

Can a foreign law firm obtain a licence to open an office?

There is no explicit foreign law firm licensing regime which regulates these arrangements.

Even if a foreign law firm does not require a legal licence must they register in some form in order to set up an office? (e.g. with a ministry of company affairs etc)

Foreign law firms need to undergo the usual legal registration procedures, either with the State Board of Commerce (Junta Comercial) or the National Companies Registry Office (Cartório de Registro de Pessoa Jurídica). A foreign law firm should also register its firm’s office with the OAB.
 
 
Are there different types of foreign law firm 'licence'  (e.g. Joint Law Venture, stand alone foreign licence etc)

Not applicable

Is there a quota on the number of licences available? Not applicable
Are there geographical restrictions on foreign firm licences or on the number of branches a foreign firm can have? Not applicable
Are there "scope of practice" rules that apply directly to foreign law firms (as opposed to lawyers themselves)? (e.g. home, host, international law), if so, what are they? Not beyond the requirements on individual foreign lawyers
Are there restrictions on the corporate form a foreign law firm can take? There are no additional requirements on law firms beyond those imposed on foreign companies in general.
Are there rules about the name a foreign law firm can take? There are no additional limitations on names for foreign law firms beyond those imposed on companies in general.
What entity grants a 'license' to a foreign law firm? If that entity is on the Internet, please provide the URL Not applicable
   

EMPLOYMENT AND PARTNERSHIP

Are there restrictions on the ownership share of foreign lawyers in a law firm?

Not permitted

May a domestic lawyer be employed by a foreign lawyer or law firm?

No - not if the domestic lawyer wants to practise Brazilian law.

Can a domestic lawyer enter into partnership with a foreign lawyer?

No - not if the domestic lawyer wants to practise Brazilian law.

Can a domestic lawyer or domestic law firm employ a foreign lawyer?

No - not if the domestic lawyer wants to practise Brazilian law.

   

OTHER USEFUL LINKS/SOURCES

Other useful sources or comments or links

Brazilian Bar: www.oab.org.br

Verified by

Tozzini Freire Advogados: http://www.tozzinifreire.com.br/ (October 2013).