A Fight For Legal Equality In Brazil
By: Murilo Marello
When asked by the “The Entitled Millennial” to right this piece, I wondered if the struggle with older generations here in Brazil was similar to that of my friends in the United States. Through some research I found that our realities were not so far apart. The accusations of Millennials being selfish, entitled, narcissistic, and lazy don't seem to be one-sided. I don’t intend to defend a whole generation based on my limited experience. I am definitely guilty of some sins that contributed to those labels, who isn’t? Instead, I'd like to reflect on our own virtues.
Enough is Enough
Hustle or Fail
After graduation, I started to work in a small law firm in Rio de Janeiro. I had previous professional experience, mostly as a legal intern, but once working effectively as a lawyer I started to deal constantly with older generations and the infinite bureaucracy created by them.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that something wasn’t clicking. The age difference between my boss and I, the lack of communication, the workload compared to my ridiculously small salary (I was paid less then my own intern!), but mostly, the absence of intellectual autonomy.My increasing dissatisfaction led me to quit in less than a year. Yeah, I believed I could do better. Call me entitled if you must, but I prefer to be defined as secure. I knew the job, sure I had a lot to learn, and I still do. Yet, I chose to follow my own path, instead of letting someone else pull the strings.
Being a lawyer in Brazil isn’t easy; we have almost as many lawyers as the U.S, except we don’t have as much business. If you’re lazy, you’ll most likely fail. So, although self-assured, I knew I had to “sharpen my axe”, so I spent two years studying to obtain two Master of Laws (LLM) degrees, in civil procedure and in tax law. During this period of self-improvement, I decided to build my network. I started to distribute some cards to friends and family and eventually clients started to appear. But I thought I could go a little bit further, be more useful to my community, which led me to become a volunteer in the Federal Public Defendant’s Office.
You Gotta Have Grit
The day to day of being a lawyer requires a high attention to detail, not only when facing the other party, but also in dealing with bureaucracy and inconsistencies in the legal system. Time is precious and not only financially speaking, ask a parent who has been deprived of their child during a divorce or thrown in jail because of false accusations. This is why I decided to take a three-year course to prepare to be a judge. Although I am not sure if this will be my objective at the end of everything, it helps me deepen my knowledge of the legal system.
It's important to me that I am learning and growing everyday. So, while assisting my own clients, and working as a volunteer in the Federal Public Defendant’s Office, I also decided to volunteer in a NGO (non-governmental organization) called “Instituto Pro Bono” (Pro Bono Institute), which works like a legal clinic, helping out other NGOs.
It's Our Moral Obligation
Even though I was helping a lot of people, working pro bono was a struggle because I did not have an income, so recently I invited two former colleagues to join forces and start our own practice. Ironically, most of our targeted clients are millennials, since they are the ones innovating, founding NGO’s, and start-ups. It was only logical for us to reach out to a generation that we identified with because if we believed we could make a difference then so could our clients.
My journey as a millennial has only just begun, but it wouldn’t have ever started if I decided to listen to the negative labels given to my generation by this society. I hope that this beginning chapter in my life can be an example to the contrary.