Exchanging ideas

01 Apr 2015

Originally published in Counsel Magazine

Frederico Singarajah reports on the recent Brazil-British lawyers’ exchange programme in London.

Last year, the inaugural British-Brazilian lawyers’ exchange programme took place in London during November and December.

It was the first time Brazilian lawyers had taken part in such an exchange and the first time that their English colleagues had done it with any South American country. The relationship between the Bar Council, the Law Society and Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil (OAB), the Federal Counsel of the Brazilian Bar Association, dates back to 2012, since which time there has been a visit of the Lord Mayor to Brazil, the attendance of the president of the OAB to the opening of the legal year in October 2012, a visit of a Bar Council mission to Brazil and the launch of Lex Anglo-Brasil in Brazil.

The Bar Council and the Law Society welcomed nine young Brazilian lawyers to London for a month-long programme. This was broken down into a one-week academic course hosted by BPP Law School, a further week at a firm of solicitors and a final two weeks with a set of chambers.

Since there is a fused profession (of 832,000 lawyers) in Brazil, the programme began with visits to solicitors’ firms, to compare and contrast the corporate governance, client care and professional ethics. The contingent then spent time in barristers’ chambers; as this was their first encounter with a self-employed cadre of specialist advocates, they were given two weeks to gain an insight into the profession, advocacy, the workings of a referral profession and the dynamics with both lay and professional clients. They were particularly grateful to have this extra time to understand the Bar and many were converted to the notion of a divided profession.

Particular thanks go to Chika Muorah of the Bar Council, to Charlotte Ford of the Law Society and to Lex Anglo-Brasil who secured the placements for the lawyers in English firms and chambers. In turn, the visiting participants were bright, diligent, and demonstrated an excellent work ethic and unquestionable integrity, so the feedback from the hosts was as enthusiastic as from the guests.

A return visit of young solicitors and barristers to Brazil is planned for 2015. The exchange programme, which we hope to see repeated on a regular basis, is intended to bring new, closer and lasting relationships, swapping knowledge and experiences and securing a future working relationship between our two legal professions.

The Brazilian Young Lawyers Write:

We participated in the first Brazilian-British lawyers’ exchange programme.

The programme included a four day academic programme at BPP law school, a week placement in solicitors’ firm and two weeks in barristers’ chambers. We found the classes at BPP Law School enriching as it gave us an insight into the legal system of England and Wales and an opportunity to compare and contrast our legal system which is based on civil law with that in England and Wales. The one-week placement in law firms provided us with an understanding of the work solicitors undertake, giving us the opportunity to follow individual cases and their routine.

The following weeks’ in barristers’ chambers gave us a better understanding of the relationship between the two legal professions and of the work of barristers, as well as an opportunity to observe the barristers in court. Although we all had very different experiences, we found our placements very insightful. We were also very impressed that barristers and solicitors had volunteered their time to mentor us and speak at the evening seminars and by the quality of the programme and the activities organised by the Bar Council and the Law Society.

We are grateful to them and to the Ordem dos Advogados de Brasil for organising this programme. We had a great time in London and have made some long term friendships and professional contacts. We look forward to welcoming barristers and solicitors to Brazil in 2015 for the next leg of the exchange programme.


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