Students Work and Play in Distant Lands During J-Term


Gaurav Toshniwal ?12, Jason Gross ?12, and Parker Zangoei ?12 in front of the Escadaria Selaron, a landmark in the bohemian neighborhood of Lapa in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Twenty Harvard Law students spent J-Term in San Jose, Costa Rica for a course taught by Profs. James Cavallaro and Stephanie Brewer.

Katie Fischl ’12

I was in a 20-person class called “Doctrine and Practice of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.” As the Court is located in San Jose, Costa Rica, the course was taught there. This gave us the opportunity to tour the Court and meet with one of the lawyers for the Court (the equivalent of a clerk) who explained to us how the Court functioned. The course was co-taught by Prof. James Cavallaro and Prof. Stephanie Brewer, who have both litigated cases before the Court and were able to provide insight into how they strategized both the legal and advocacy aspects of cases. We also had the opportunity to meet with Judge Sonia Picado, a former judge of the Court and the first woman to serve on the Court. She told us about her experience serving on the Court, including the discrimination she experienced as a woman, and answered questions about her opinion on the development of jurisprudence at the Court.

Jason Gross ’12

I conducted research for a paper on legislation before the Brazilian National Congress that would effectuate a major overhaul of the notoriously inefficient Brazilian tax system. I had the opportunity to speak with the main architects of the proposal, including the Attorney General Luís Inácio Adams. The project provided me the unique chance to observe a legal regime in a state of fundamental flux, as the government works to accommodate rapid modernization and economic development.

Parker Zangoei ’12

I spent four weeks in Brazil during January term this year — three weeks in Rio de Janeiro and one in Sao Paulo. The purpose of my trip was to do research and conduct interviews that would assist me in writing a paper about the Brazilian Bar Association’s regulations for foreign firms practicing in Brazil. The Brazilian economy has taken off in the last several years, and with a booming economy comes a boom in investors seeking to find an entry into the growing market. Naturally, where investment increases, so does legal work, and in the past two years, thirteen major international firms have opened offices in Brazil.

Brazil, like most countries, has rules that govern who can and who cannot establish a legal practice within the country and in what kind of work such practice can engage. With the vast influx of international firms, there exists some tension in what the Brazilian Bar Association rules are and how they will be interpreted and implied — not to mention the political pressures playing a role in the background. I was able to interview several partners at law firms in Brazil, both at local firms and at international firms with an office in the country. Out of these interviews, I was able to gain insight into the perspective of each group and their individual expectations about the future of the countries expanding legal market.

I’ve always found traveling to be a worthwhile endeavor, and Brazil was no exception. Experiencing a new culture and its people was a great experience that proved for a great time. I’m currently enrolled in David Wilkins’s course on Global Lawyers and Emerging Economies where I continue to study Brazil and plan to go back in, hopefully, the not too distant future. 

Gaurav Toshniwal ’12

I travelled to Brazil to work on an independent paper on financial regulation. The paper examines Brazilian financial regulation and macroeconomic policy during the recent financial crisis and contrasts Brazil’s relatively successful performance with the more turbulent experience of other big commodity exporters such as Russia. I spent the first two weeks of my trip at a Brazilian law school, Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV), in Rio de Janeiro, where he discussed and developed his paper with professors at that school. I also travelled to São Paulo to interview various market participants including risk managers at financial institutions, economists at private sector banks and portfolio managers and traders at investment management firms.

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