With nearly 15 thousand lawyers registered in the Potiguar section of the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB-RN), Rio Grande do Norte has one lawyer per 242 inhabitants, the 4th highest percentage in the Northeast region. RN is behind Sergipe (1 to 200), Paraíba (205) and Piauí (205). In absolute numbers, a survey by the Federal Council of the OAB shows that the state has 14,695 active professionals, which is considered a high percentage, but not necessarily a positive one. Aldo Medeiros, chairman of the OAB-RN, evaluates this. Despite the “swell” in the market, Medeiros believes that this moment can create an environment to boost qualification of the profession.
For the lawyer, the sheer number of professionals working in RN is troubling because of the economic scenario of high inflation and unemployment. The pandemic is also on the bill. “When this growth of professionals comes together with a bad phase of the economy, a worrying situation arises. Due to the recession of recent years, the decline in tourism and oil production, the profession has had a greater impact, as the basic conditions for action – conflict resolution and defense of rights – have greatly diminished,” he says.
Even in an unfavorable scenario, mastering digital tools can be a differentiator to circumvent the crisis. Aldo Medeiros says that the general knowledge gained during the training and practice of law qualifies the professional to work in different fields, as a way of distinguishing themselves from the large number of lawyers working in the market.
“The flow of information, legal or otherwise, is becoming more and more robotic. That lawyer who kept doing the same for hundreds of clients and only changed the first cover, only changed some information, that will no longer exist. This will be done by artificial intelligence, by a robot, and the lawyer will have to follow this and reinvent himself,” he analyzes.
Research by the Federal Council of the OAB also shows that Brazil is the country with the highest proportion of lawyers in the world. In total, 1.3 million operators are qualified to practice the profession on a regular basis, which corresponds to a ratio of one lawyer for 164 Brazilians. In absolute numbers, Brazil is second only to India, which has just over 2 million lawyers, but with a population six times that of Brazil.
At 80 years old and with a long legal career, Margarida Seabra de Moura, one of the longest-lived professionals at the OAB-RN, made a career as a prosecutor in the prosecution, but she was happiest in law, she says. During her performance, she says that women have come to prominence and play a prominent role in the profession today. Seabra de Moura believes that the direct relationship with the customer can also be another difference to stand out in the middle.
“Once I was at a client and all of a sudden we heard some screaming, like it was a Brazil goal at the World Cup. The client got scared and asked what it was and I said I thought it was an order that someone had won, and it was. So that’s it, we vibrate, get involved, get closer to people and I love people. I especially feel immense joy in these cases,” he notes.
Another alternative to working in the bloated legal market is also the specialization in languages, says Lúcio Teixeira dos Santos, lawyer, retired municipal lawyer, former director of the Law course at Universidade Potiguar and member of the National Commission for Legal Education of the OAB . With 76 years and 50 years of career, Lúcio says that as a university manager, he has always tried to warn of the need to delve deeper into digital processes.
“I already said when I was director of UnP that anyone who studies languages and technology would have a bright future in the profession. You can help foreigners who come to Brazil, many of them come to invest and need lawyers. I often told my students that this would be the difference, besides of course the technological tools, because these advantages will open many avenues,” he explains.
OAB gets a thousand new lawyers a year
Of the 14,600 active legal practitioners in Rio Grande do Norte, 7,500 are men and 7,100 are women, but the trend is that this balance will change in a short time. “We still have this picture of more men than women inscribed, but the number of new lawyers is greater than the number of new lawyers per year. I believe that women will soon be the majority in the state,” Aldo Medeiros projects.
The average operating time is approximately five years. In the groups up to 25 years and 26 to 40 years, women are in the majority, while men are more common in the more advanced age groups, between 41 and 59 years and older than 60 years. According to Aldo Medeiros, the high number of lawyers remains stable in Rio Grande do Norte. Every year, 1,000 new professionals are accredited by the OAB, which registers a similar number of licenses.
“We’ve been in this range of 14.15 thousand for a number of years. We are parked, many people come in, but many people say goodbye because they do not practice the trade. The courts have created many postgraduate scholarship holders, who are already qualified lawyers who will work in the structures of the judiciary. Today we can say that there is a huge renovation of the staff going on,” he adds.
An example of this renewal of professional staff and working methods is the young lawyer Filipe Rocha, 25 years old, who graduated from the OAB-RN for less than two years. Rocha says its operations are 100% digital, without a physical office. “We receive applications through social networks and also by looking for students, acquaintances in our area. Normally our services are through video conferencing platforms, but sometimes we meet in person when the customer wishes,” he says.
Filipe Rocha also says that digital tools make it possible to track down an alternative career. According to Rocha, it was common during graduation for professors to encourage a “natural path” to career progression, which consists of attempting to enter a traditional office as a junior attorney and then progress within the firm.
Over-opening of courses worries, says OAB
One of the reasons for the large number of lawyers in the job market is the random opening of legal courses across Brazil, says Aldo Medeiros, president of the OAB-RN. If the country currently has 1.3 million lawyers attached to the institution, the number of law students is also surprisingly high. According to the agency itself, Brazil has 700,000 students enrolled in 1,800 legal courses.
“Long ago, the MEC abandoned the use of stricter and tighter criteria when approving course creation. There was a proliferation of law courses with no market study whatsoever, no structure to work with and with that it was extremely easy to take the course and then compete for the bar exam and be qualified to work as a lawyer,” he notes. .
In 1999, in order to encourage faculties to offer a law degree with an increasingly higher quality level, the OAB established the Selo OAB Recommends. The indicator is one of the instruments in the Order’s struggle to defend the protection of legal education in the country.
“We need to make a lot of progress in training future lawyers. The OAB is committed to fighting against and contributing to the modernization of Brazilian legal education, without sacrificing quality, efficiency and technical-scientific superiority,” said OAB National President Beto Simonetti.
Six institutions received the seal in Rio Grande do Norte: Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN/Natal and Caicó), State University of Rio Grande do Norte (UERN/Natal and Mossoró), Federal Rural University of the semi-arid region (UFERSA /Mossoró) and the University Center of Rio Grande do Norte (UNI-RN/Natal).