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Carlos Portugal Gouvêa, Lílian M. Cintra de Melo & Raquel de Mattos Pimenta, Beyond Legal Formalism in Brazil: The Law & Poverty Group Experience, Presentation at the 2017 International Meeting of the Law and Society Association (June 20-23, 2017).

Abstract: Efforts in legal education have been made to adapt the curriculum, teaching methodologies, and materials to bring students attention to the matters concerning the linkages between poverty, inequality, human rights, and development. In Latin America, due to its socio and economic realities, these efforts are permanently required. The present research aims at exploring and documenting the experience of the Law & Poverty Group, founded in 2006 at the University of São Paulo Law School. More specifically, this paper discusses the implementation of the Law & Poverty Group approach of three interlocking cycles (formation, investigation, and intervention), considering its teaching methodologies, and multidisciplinary materials, which focuses on legal, historical, and institutional perspectives to address effectively the challenge of poverty and inequality. By analyzing its publications and interviewing its current and previous members, ultimately, the purpose of this paper is to postulate reproducing patterns of the Law & Poverty Group experience, so it can be replicated, with adaptations, throughout Latin America and the Global South, spreading critical legal thinking and action in unequal countries. This paper is structured in following three parts. First, it presents the creation of the Law & Poverty Group and its themes related to Legal Structuralism and the required multidisciplinary approach. Second, it presents how the conductive learning is applied in the Law & Poverty Group, enabling students to actively participate in discussions, critically understand Brazilian problems, and creatively produce solutions pulling away compensatory measures, blind legal transplants and one-size-fits-all models. Following, it presents LPG’s projects, focusing on three initiatives: a book, a case, and a database. Finally, it presents the Law & Poverty Group perspectives for the future, and what it is in for the next ten years.