A group of 30 lawyers, judges, and other professionals from Brazil arrived at California Western School of Law on Monday, January 12, for a week-long course on U.S. bankruptcy law.
This is the second group from Brazil to come to the law school under the American Legal Studies and Exchange - Brazil program. The first group visited California Western in June 2014 to study the overall U.S. legal system.
The program was co-founded and is directed by Brazilian attorney Carla McEwen and began with a class taught by chief judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Diego, The Hon. Laura S. Taylor, which the students found to be highly informative.
"The first class we had was just fantastic," said Daniel Carnio Costa, a bankruptcy court judge in Brazil. "In this globalized world it's very important to know how the system works in the United States. We can create new ideas based on the knowledge we have from other countries.”
Other activities during the week include a visit to Judge Taylor's courtroom to observe an actual bankruptcy hearing, a visit to the main federal courthouse downtown, and lectures from bankruptcy attorneys and the U.S. Trustee in San Diego who oversees bankruptcy cases.
These are valuable experiences for the students, who are learning about American bankruptcy law from those most directly involved in the field.
"We're living in a world without boundaries so we need to know about the laws in the main countries that we work with, and the U.S. is one of them, so it’s quite important to be updated about that,” said attorney Carlos Neto, who owns an auction firm and regularly sees the results of bankruptcy cases.
The course will also help Brazilian attorneys create new solutions to the issues involved in bankruptcy.
"This course is important for us mainly because our law sometimes is not enough to deal with all the problems we have. Exchanging experiences could help us solve a lot our problems and create changes," said São Paulo attorney Lilian Marques, whose law firm deals with bankrupt companies."The course has been wonderful mainly because we can have a lot of contact with different people and professionals in this area.”
The course also attracted a repeat customer, who sang the praises of the program.
"It's the second course I have attended here and it has overwhelmed my expectations again," said Teresa da Silva, an attorney from São Paulo who attended the class at California Western in June. "I fell in love with the college and the town.”
The Brazil program is one of many strong relationships that California Western has with the South American legal system, including the Chile Summer Program and Proyecto ACCESO, a program based at the law school that promotes the rule of law and has been effectively guiding legal reform efforts for more than seven years throughout Central and South America.