8-year-old boy passes Brazil law-school entrance exams/8jähriger Brasilianer darf Jura studieren

It may be easier to become a lawyer than a translator in Brazil, judging from this Guardian article:

Brazil’s lawyers have been shocked to find that a boy aged eight has managed to pass the entrance exam to law school.

The Bar Association said the achievement of Joao Victor Portellinha should be taken as a warning about the low standards of some of Brazil’s law schools.

Since he hasn’t completed high school yet, he can’t actually study.

“My dream is to be a federal judge,” the boy said, according to Globo TV’s Web site. “So I decided to take the test to see how I would do … it was easy. I studied a week before the test.”

I don’t know whether this test is the only criterion used.

Apparently the Guardian had some space left, so the article concludes as follows:

As a former colony, Brazilian civil law is largely based on that of Portugal with statutes derived from the Romano-Germanic legal tradition, but has been amended to include some precedent-based common law.

Exactly what the oddly-express last clause means I have no idea. Presumably, like most civil-law systems, Brazil now takes account of case law.

Trevor asks: Why do we hear so much about the civil/French tradition, and rarely anything about the Romano-German? Readers, this is a question for a future entry. Watch this space.

9 thoughts on “8-year-old boy passes Brazil law-school entrance exams/8jähriger Brasilianer darf Jura studieren

  1. It could be the other way round and show that the boy Joao was extremely precocious and a ‘natural’, rather than Brazilian law school standards are low.

    Standards weren’t lowered in Salzburg 250 years to allow Wolfgang A. Mozart to play the grand piano at the age of 4 and start composing at the age of 6 in London’s Pimlico.

    Also the boy’s common-parakeet middle name Victor leads on to a Law School ‘Parrot Factory’ point: until about 20 years ago the College of Law of England & Wales was a rote-learning institution where a child with a photographic memory could conceivably have qualified as a UK Solicitor(not Barrister) ha, ha!

  2. Excuse the reference, Victor. But our family had a pet-parrot by that name – not unusual in Southern England all of 50 years ago. Also, you are far too intelligent to be the product of an England & Wales Law Society force-feed, even with bird-seed.

    • What has the College of Law done to you that you keep attacking it? I can only assume this is directed at me as a personal attack. You know perfectly well that qualifying as a solicitor involves training as well as exams. How much pupillage does a barrister have to do before acquiring that title – could it be ‘none at all’? Also, the College of Law training was very peculiar with a strong dictation element, but I don’t seem to recall that rote learning took one through the exams (although I admit I didn’t try it).

  3. I didn’t in fact know you were at the College of Law. There are plenty of other institutions in the UK where to do a non-law graduate conversion course (BPP/HLT) and where such graduates are encouraged to think. As I witnessed myself on a course at a London branch of the College, students trying to discuss points were told to stop wasting time and shut up or cut short with comments like ‘moving swiftly on to the next subject’…. Maybe that is a congenial and conducive atmosphere for 8-year Brazilian schoolchildren, but not for creative lawyers and legal drafters.

    • I thought you knew that. I don’t think there was much alternative in 1976. I did the Part I course in Chester, where we used to have great fun discussing the points, and Part II at Lancaster Gate, where it was the same but the classmates were less interesting – probably because they weren’t encountering law studies for the first time – but I still can’t remember being told to shut up. I did do the accounts course at some place in Holborn. When I do my bookkeeping now, I wonder how it was the only paper I got a distinction on. What I missed most was the opportunity to write essays, or at least answers to exam questions.

  4. Thanks for that. No I didn’t know. I was also at the Lancaster Gate ‘primary school’ branch a couple of years before you. It has now moved to Storey Street off Tottenham Court Road.

    My point is a wider and more serious one. Almost 40 years ago, my first law lecturer claimed there was a shortage of Sols. Now the number has quadrupled from 15,000 to 60,000 practitioners. So have, exponentially, the number of complaints against Sols. Coincidentally, the College of Law claims or rather confesses to having trained the majority of Sols. in the UK, but repudiates liability for future negligent professionals.

    The number of Practising Barristers in Eng. & Wales during that period has trebled, but the number of complaints against them has not even doubled. The Bar Council says there is no room for complacency. But it is worrying when some lawyers & judges back in London say that youngsters cramming and rote-learning through either branch of the profession have big gaps in their knowledge and, even with computers, can’t even write letters or spell properly.

    • This is no good, of course. However, I don’t think that doing the exams actually reduces the number of braincells, as you seemed to suggest to Victor! And I agree that the College of Law can’t really be made liable for negligence of its former students.

  5. Points taken. We must also factor other UK law-course providers into the corner-cutting equation and a possibility that not all complaints may be justified. For instance, there are reportedly often complaints by aggrieved litigants against judges when a decision goes against such parties. That does not mean to say the judges are short on adjudication skills, rather says something about the avenues of complaint open to British & Irish litigants.

    Coming back to our 8 year-old Brazilian prodigy, we must not lose sight of the fact that he clocked up a law-school entrance exam ‘only’ and has not been allowed to take the course until he finishes high school. So we will never know if he could have qualified by the time his voice breaks.

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