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Center on International Commercial Arbitration

Deborah Pereira

Interview by Prof. Bjorn Arp, Assistant Director of the Center, of Deborah Pereira, current J.D. student at AUWCL, held on October 3, 2023:

Good morning, Deborah. You are now studying the J.D. at American University Washington College of Law after an already interesting legal career in Brazil. Please tell us about the various places where you have lived.

I was born in beautiful Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Though I have studied abroad for extended periods of time in the United States and Europe, I lived in Rio most of my life. That is until recently. I just moved permanently to the United States with my husband, and am excited to start a new personal and professional chapter in Washington, D.C.

Can you tell me about your previous academic and professional experience?

I received an undergraduate degree, a master’s degree and a doctorate in private law at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, where I have served as a guest lecturer, teaching contracts and torts. The system is different in Brazil in that a “law degree” is in practice a five-year undergrad degree. I also received an LLM from Harvard Law School in 2018. For work, I have served as an attorney for the Office of Attorney General of the City of Rio de Janeiro for over a decade. Much of that work dealt with fraud and corruption cases against public servants, mostly in procurement and government contracts. I conducted internal investigations about prohibited practices and civil litigation. My cases were from low-level bureaucrats all the way to city councilors and even a former mayor. Some of these cases were very high profile.

What interested you in pursuing a career in international arbitration?

As a litigator, I enjoyed being in Court, doing hearings and oral arguments, but I also thought it was time to try something different, more collaborative and collegial. At the same time, I wanted to drive my career in a direction where I could build on my previous experience in civil litigation. And, of course, International Arbitration seems a fascinating field! In the last decade, arbitration has grown a lot in Brazil, and the country is now one of the biggest markets in the world for international commercial arbitration. I hope that I can contribute with my long-time work in contract-based and government-related disputes together with my scholarship in contract law.

What drew you to American University Washington College of Law?

WCL is a great academic community in the DC area, surrounded by international organizations, government agencies, and top law firms! The Law School has a highly-ranked international program, and I am excited to take advantage of all the amazing opportunities. Besides working as a Dean’s Fellow for the Center on International Commercial Arbitration, I will apply for the Vis Moot team next spring.

Do you have any hobbies? What do you do for fun?

Yes, I do, though I am not an expert at any of them! I learned to sail competitively from my husband in the last couple years. In Rio, we had a 14-foot racing sailboat called a Snipe. We just moved to D.C. and we joined a little community racing league on the Anacostia. Washington, D.C. is a great place for outdoor sports. We have also enjoyed hiking in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, in Virginia. And I am a big yoggi, so I go to a hot yoga studio near my house whenever I have a break.