July 16 2019
Supporting SPG Law from Liverpool to Brazil
In November 2018, a group of F-LEX paralegals started a group action project in Liverpool with international firm, SPG Law; however, for some, this was just the start of an incredible journey which led to rural Brazil and culminated in permanent job offers for two and a training contract for another. This is their story!
Adele and Callum started working on the Volkswagen EU emissions case, with a group of F-lex paralegals in Liverpool. After doing such a great job on this case, they were flown out to Brazil in January 2019 to work on another group action litigation project, the Fundao Dam collapse. This disaster affected many, including one indigenous community in Governador Valadares:
“When you get to the village, there are two all maisonettes on each side of the road. One is the health centre and the other is the school, which is very small but quite modern. When you continue, hidden behind trees, you get to the main area of the village. There is a ceremonial hut where rituals and mass are held and beside it, you have a communal kitchen and a couple benches for people to sit on. This is also where bonfires are often lit up at night.
Our visit began with meeting several members of the indigenous community, who were all friendly and welcoming towards the team. When we arrived, it was very quiet, but we sat by the main hut and about 15 people including children came out to greet us and chat. They were very kind, and the conversation was casual and some of them were wearing their traditional clothes for the occasion.
They cooked us lunch, which we sat and ate outside their kitchen. Whilst eating we spoke to one of the group’s teachers about how the indigenous community came to reside in the area that they are currently in, and how the indigenous community’s life had changed after the dam collapse.”
Adele and Callum began talking to individuals within the indigenous community, collecting testimonies for their witness statements and learning about both the individual and collective loss. The next day, following a restless nights sleep in the unbelievable heat, the SPG team began the process of structuring and translating their witness statements while still in the village. A real example of law in action!
“Regardless of the tough working and sleeping conditions, the trip was an incredible experience. It was particularly interesting to learn about the history of these indigenous people and to understand how the disaster has affected their livelihoods.
We were learning everyday, especially in terms of management, helping to supervise teams of Brazilian paralegals and assisting barristers.”
Adele and Callum will soon work with a team of Brazilian lawyers at SPG’s London office, building on the legal work they began in Brazil.
Some reflections from Adele on her experience:
“”I would like to thank the F-LEX team. If it wasn’t for you, I would have probably never been given such an amazing opportunity for my first job and made amazing friends who’ve supported me from the start at SPG. I am extremely grateful to you all.”
Adele and Callum’s journey is just one of F-LEX’s many success stories; and whilst we can’t promise Brazil, we will do our best to get you started on your journey into the world of law!