A large number of Brazilian lawyers want a political career. Brazilian politics is not for the weak of heart, however. The political scene in Brazil has been filled with drama, corruption and the scent of a Brazilian soap opera, according to Ricardo Tosto de Oliveira Carvalho. Tosto is one of the founders of Leite, Tosto e Barros Advogados. He has been a lawyer in Brazil for more than 22 years, and he specializes in electoral law, international law, civil and commercial litigation and business law.
Tosto thinks the first four years of the current administration under the leadership of Dilma Rousseff gave law firms the chance to expand and make more money. Most lawyers thought Rousseff would put tax reforms in place, increase global economic integration and demonstrate the kind of political transparency needed to continue the lawyers’ upward trend, but that didn’t happen.
Instead, Latin America’s largest economy and the largest community of lawyers in all but three countries is reeling from a major currency devaluation and a recession that is having a negative impact on the newly formed middle class. Rousseff has lost the support of the people, the Senate and the House as well as the support of most of the 800,000 Brazilian lawyers. Rousseff is trying to pull herself out of the downward spiral, but according to Tosto cutting jobs in her cabinet and reducing her salary by 10 percent doesn’t win back the respect of the lawyers around the country.
The Brazilian political soap opera has turned into a horror movie, and there is no end in sight. The credit downgrade and the alleged wrongdoing at federal institutions makes it almost impossible for Rousseff to function effectively and that means Brazilian lawyers will suffer as well. Lawyers around the country are distancing themselves from Rousseff according to Tosto because prosecutors are looking into more than 50 politicians that may have taken part in the alleged graft payments.
Many politicians are trying to save their own skin at the expense of the economy, and that means there is a risk that some of the progress that has been made by some lawyers will be lost because of the legal battles that will develop in the process. Legal battles in Brazil are never settled easily and in a timely manner. Many lawyers think Brazil may default on loan payments, and if that happens there will be a wave of panic and legal maneuvering that may not be all that legal.
Most lawyers expect an impeachment, but Rousseff has been able to avoid that process so far, but many Brazilian lawyers say the only thing that will save her from impeachment is her resignation.