Strategic Litigation Clinic

Coordinated by Professor Eloísa Machado de Almeida, the Strategic Litigation Clinic offers students a real experience in solving complex cases, for which they need skills and competencies from various areas of law, such as constitutional, international, criminal, and procedural, and outside  the law, such as health, sociology, anthropology, economics, and public policy. Thus, the clinic understands  that students of FGV Sao Paulo Law School will be professionally able to become architects of complex legal solutions.

Students work with cases of public interest and human rights, as a way to give back knowledge, creating a collaboration between academia and society. The clinic has selected cases of great political, social, and economic repercussion on the court agenda. In 2015, its first year of operation, it dealt with the unconstitutional situation in the Brazilian prison system; in 2016, it addressed the Zika virus epidemic in the country.

The notion of strategic litigation, as approached in the clinic, comprises not only a deep knowledge of the case being handled, but also the articulation of partners, understanding the political actors involved, and the mobilization of the public debate.


Prison System

In the second half of 2015, students at the Strategic Litigation Clinic had the Pro Bono Institute as a client, which wanted to manifest itself as amicus curiae before the Supreme Court (STF), in actions on prison reform.

Students discussed with the directors, presented a thesis, and produced a deep research for the client. The amicus curiae brought the theme of pregnant women prisoners, and was developed in partnership with the Brazilian Society of Public Law (SBDP), with an opinion from Professor Carlos Ari Sundfeld, and with USP’s Luiz Gama Human Rights Clinic,  and was filed at STF on December 15th, 2015.

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Preventing and Fighting Torture

Having as client the National Committee to Prevent and Fight Torture, the Strategic Litigation Clinic prepared an opinion on possible ways to prevent archiving the torture case involving Veronica Bolina, a transvestite imprisoned with men. Students examined all processes, national and international standards, held reunions, and presented to the committee a Proposal of Incident for Shifting Jurisdiction to the Federal Court. The document was handed to the committee, and will be used in due course.  

Access the Proposal of Incident for Shifting Jurisdiction to the Federal Court

Zika Virus and Abortion

In 2016, the case chosen for the Strategic Litigation Clinic was the fight against the Zika virus and the implementation of measures to support the health of affected women. The instrument used was the incidence in the Federal Supreme Court (STF) through amicus curiae.

The clinic’s first activity was to read and study reports and articles on amicus curiae and the Zika virus. The second activity was an interview with the Director of Legislative Affairs of the National Association of Public Defenders (ANADEP), an institution that was preparing to join STF with a direct action of unconstitutionality, reporting government’s omission and failure to provide appropriate health policies against  the challenges posed by the Zika virus epidemic.

At the interview, students asked questions about the strategy, and were told, in first hand, the arguments of the case. They also had a lecture with Laura Matter, Doctor in Public Health Care from USP,  who presented data on maternal deaths and reproductive rights in Brazil.

The students went on to study the Direct Action of Unconstitutionality (ADI) 5581, its reports and documents. The strategy proposed by them was the elaboration of legal arguments in favor of abortion decriminalization in the country. Students deepened the bibliographical research and wrote the arguments.

The next step was writing the amicus curiae, entitled “Six arguments in favor of abortion decriminalization in Brazil”. The document was sent to the Brazilian Institute of Criminal Sciences (IBCCrim), the client partner in this case. To foster mobilization of a public debate on the subject, the students wrote, in partnership with the project ‘Supreme Court in the Agenda’, articles published on the blog of the same name.

Access the amicus curiae