How to Hire a Lawyer in Brazil Part 1
By Jose Santiago
Hiring a lawyer in Brazil is no different from anywhere in the world. Start by asking your friends and relatives for referrals, do some internet shopping, participate in online forums. You can also get referrals from local BAR offices, Chambers of Commerce, and Embassies or Consulates.
Here are some relevant tips to do the initial screening to whittle down you list to two or three prospective candidates:
- Look at the biographies and web sites for the lawyers. Do they appear to have expertise in the area of Law that you need?
- Search the Internet under the name of the lawyer and his or her law firm. Can you find any articles, FAQs or other informational pieces that the lawyer has done that that give you a level of comfort?
- Ask other people if they have heard of the lawyers and what they think about them.
- Look to see if a lawyer is affiliated with associations that cater to your legal issues. For example, most bar associations have sections in real estate law and other related categories. Having a lawyer who is involved in a chamber of commerce or other local organizations may also be a good sign, depending on your legal needs.
- Before you hire a lawyer, always ask for references. You will want to talk to people who could comment on the lawyer's skills and trustworthiness. Ask if it is okay to talk to some of the lawyer's representative clients. A residential real estate lawyer, for example, should be able to give you the names of a few real estate agents.
The second step is to get more detailed information on each one. In Brazil, every single lawyer admitted to practice law in Brazil must be licensed, affiliated, and registered by and with the local "Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil", known as the OAB, which is the Brazilian version of the American BAR. More information regarding the OAB can be obtained at: www.oab.org.br
Having said that, you should make sure the lawyer is licensed and is in good status, meaning, his license is neither suspended nor revoked. Some office branches, such as the Rio de Janeiro branch has a website where you can run a search based on name or license number (http://www.oab-rj.com.br/lista_inscritos.asp).
Once the inscription and good status are confirmed by the local OAB, the third step is to request a bio or a resume of qualifications and a reference list, so you can attest the lawyer's past experience and education, as well as consult with his or hers past clients.
Furthermore, when comes to assisting foreigners, is fundamental that lawyer speaks the client's language fluently, otherwise there will always be a communication barrier between the professional and the client, which cannot take place in such important relationship.
Also, education and experience abroad is very important. The lawyer must be able to explain the differences between the legal systems by using the technical terms used in the other country, so his clients can have a better understanding.
It is prudent to ask your future lawyer questions such:
- Are you specialized in this area of Law?
- Have you handled matters like this one before?
- Approximately how many matters like this have you handled previously?
- Do you provide a written contract in my language? If so, ask to see an example.
- Can you call and expect a reasonably prompt response?
- How can I contact in case of an emergency? Can I have your cell phone or pager?
Part 2 next week...
Jose C. Santiago
Multinvest / Elite International
Licensed Attorney - Brazil
Licensed Real Estate Agent - USA
Phones: (55-11) 9348-5729 - São Paulo, Brazil
(800) 983-7060 - Miami, USA
Previous articles by Jose:
Tax Information for Foreigners in Brazil Part 4
Tax Information for Foreigners in Brazil Part 3
Tax Information for Foreigners in Brazil Part 2
Tax Information for Foreigners in Brazil Part 1
8 Reasons to Invest in Brazil's Real Estate
The Brazilian Resident Investor Program for Foreigners
Brazil: Annual Required Procedures to Keep Your CPF Number
Legal Aspects of Acquiring Real Estate in Brazil