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The Order of Attorneys in Brazil (OAB)

The Order of Attorneys of Brazil is what the Brazilian Bar Association is called in Brazil. It is the highest representative body for Brazilian lawyers and is responsible for regulating the practice of law and managing the Bar Examination in the country. It is currently chaired by Beto Simonetti.

The OAB, which was founded in 1930, supervises over 1.3 million attorneys and is headquartered in the Federal District of Brazil.


The Order had its creation previewed in 1843 by the Institute of Lawyers of Brazil, but only 87 years later was the Order of Lawyers instituted. The OAB is considered a child of the 1930 Revolution. On November 3, 1930, Getulio Vargas assumed power. On November 18, he created the OAB. The act resulted from Decree No. 19,408, of November 18, 1930, drawn up by the National Executive Chief, Getúlio Vargas, then elevated to power by the recent Revolution of 1930, unleashed a month earlier, on October 3.

Why “Order”

The word “Order” (“ordem” in Portuguese), which comes from the French tradition, is linked to the tradition of the Middle Ages, and can be understood as a statutory set that determines a way of life recognized by the Catholic religion, such as the Ordo Clericorum or the orders of chivalry. The lawyer was then a kind of knight of the laws. Although the French Revolution extinguished all professional corporations, the tradition was maintained regarding the denomination of the word Order, inspiring the name of several corporate entities related to lawyers in several countries, including Portugal and Brazil.

See the complete list of OAB presidents here.

Power of Regulation

All students who graduate from law school and wish to practice law must pass the bar exams and then register with the Order of Attorneys of Brazil. While fully independent from the government, it does have public powers, including the ability to take disciplinary action against members of the organization.

The Bar Exam in Brazil

If you’ve ever studied law or even seen movies about law school in the United States, you’ve probably heard of the Bar examination. It is the final test law students take before being able to begin their careers as lawyers. In Brazil, the Order of Attorneys of Brazil also conducts a Bar examination. It takes place all over the country in March, August, and December. The test is made up of two parts. The first is a multiple-choice section, and the second phase is a written practice test about an area of law the student chooses. This could be civil law, tax law, contract law, or any other area in which the student feels he or she will excel.

Second Phase Similar to the US MPT Test

This test is somewhat similar to the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) applied in most US states. However, while the MPT has a booklet with a self-contained set of facts and laws enough for the student to answer the questions, the Brazilian second phase of the exam is usually just a short fact pattern along with the questions. In the Brazilian version, the student must know by heart the applicable laws and also the correct petition structure based on the field of law and legal remedies being sought.

Bar Exam in the Brazilian Constitution

The importance of the Bar exam is actually outlined in the Brazilian Constitution. It essentially states that no lawyer should be practicing professionally without passing the Examination of the Order of Attorneys. Though the Bar examination through the Order of Attorneys of Brazil is extremely important and challenging, other countries that practice civil law have more rigorous schooling and exams.

Attorney Assistance Funds (Caixas de assistência dos advogados)

With the enactment of Decree-Law No. 4,563, of August 11, 1942, the Sections of the OAB were able to establish their respective assistance funds for lawyers, through their general meetings, which must be approved by the Federal Council of the entity.

The objective was to promote assistance and security services to professionals enrolled in the Sectional Councils of the OAB. Such funds, which today have their own legal personality recognized by the Advocacy Statute, have become significant institutions throughout history. Unlike the other Bodies belonging to the OAB, the Assistance Funds do not enjoy tax immunity.

OAB Structure

The OAB is composed of a Federal Council, which centralizes decisions throughout the country. In the states and the Federal District there are Sections of the Order (Sectional Councils), in turn composed of several Subsections, which bring together several municipalities. This structure derives from Laws 4,215, of April 27, 1963 and , of July 4, 1994.

OAB Structure’s Main Bodies:

  • Federal Council, headquartered in the capital of the Republic, is the supreme body of the OAB, where all deliberations will be taken in cases where it is convenient to resort to higher instances. Its first preparatory session was held on March 6, 1933.
  • Sectional Councils, headquartered in the states, exercise and observe, in their respective territories, the competences, prohibitions and functions attributed to the Federal Council.
  • Subsections, regional bodies of the OAB, which are responsible for effectively fulfilling the purposes of the OAB, within their territory.
  • Lawyers’ Assistance Funds (Law 8.906/94, art. 45), intended to provide assistance to those enrolled in the Sectional Council to which they are linked. The Lawyers’ Assistance Funds are entities linked to the Sections of the Brazilian Bar Association, and are equivalent to it, even having their own legal personality.

OAB’s Commissions

Much of the work done by OAB is accomplished through thematic commissions. These commissions exist at the federal level, and, sometimes, the OAB Sectional Councils managed by the states will replicate such thematic commissions at the state level.

Although there is an ever-changing number and types of commissions, some of the main ones are:

  • National Youth Attorneys Commission
  • National Commission of Women Lawyers
  • National Commission for the Truth of Black Slavery in Brazil
  • National Commission for Access to Justice
  • National Public Advocacy Commission
  • National Commission for the Defense of the Republic and Democracy
  • National Commission for the Defense of the Prerogatives and Respect of Lawyering
  • National Commission of Environmental Law
  • National Commission for Diffuse and Collective Rights
  • National Human Rights Commission
  • National Commission of Social Rights
  • National Commission for Legal Education
  • National Commission for Constitutional Studies
  • National Order Examination Commission
  • National Commission on Legislation
  • National Commission for the Promotion of Equality
  • National Committee on Institutional Relations
  • National Commission on International Relations
  • National Commission of Law Firms
  • National Coordination of the Unified Order Examination

The Order of Attorneys in Brazil

The Order of Attorneys of Brazil is responsible mainly for regulating all lawyers in the country and making sure they adhere to governmental regulations regarding the law and all professions associated with it. Additionally, they are responsible for administering the Bar examination three times every year, which is how law students transition into professional legal careers. Since Brazil is a country that practices civil law, the Order of Attorneys of Brazil works with the government to ensure that the Brazilian Constitution is being successfully upheld by the over 1.3 million attorneys currently practicing law in the country.

Order of Attorneys of Brazil’s Contact Information

Address: SAUS Quadra 5 Lote 1 Bloco M
City: Brasília
State: DF
Zip Code: 70070-939
Phone: +55 (61) 2193-9600
Fax: +55 (61) 2193-9647