London Connection Q&A: LLM graduate Lauro de Oliveira Vianna

LLM graduate Lauro de Oliveira Vianna shares his experiences of studying to enhance his knowledge of International Business Law and Taxation
Lauro de Oliveira Vianna
"I really enjoyed my studies, due to the flexibility of the course": Lauro de Oliveira Vianna
I believe that the LLM enables students to develop a wide range of useful skills to use in any kind of work

Congratulations on accomplishing the LLM! How does it feel to have completed the programme?
Thank you! I feel very happy to have completed the programme because I think this course will contribute to my career along with my personal and academic life. It is difficult to measure the value of getting an LLM degree, but I am sure that it was a rewarding experience. I took approximately three years to complete the programme (my first examination session was in May 2014 and my last examination was in October 2016). However, such periods of hard study and dedication were worth the time due to the University’s reputation as the study materials are from Queen Mary University of London and University College London. In fact, through this course, it was possible to continue my legal development and get some international experience. The LLM also allowed me to gain specialist knowledge in the field of International Business Law

What attracted you to study the LLM programme with the University of London International Programmes?
I am a tax attorney in Brazil, admitted to practice since 2005. I have had the chance to act in numerous trials before many Courts in Brazil, in judicial and administrative proceedings regarding tax law, and I also have had the chance to work with tax consultants and due diligences. In 2012, I obtained my Master’s degree in Business Economics in Brazil and then decided to look for opportunities for international advanced study. After investigating the many programmes available, I choose the LLM at the University of London International Programmes. Among the reasons for my choice, the main ones were the University of London’s reputation, the fact that the course outline related to International Business Law and the possibility to study in Brazil.

How did you find the programme? Did you enjoy your studies?
I found the programme through internet research, especially on websites related to LLM courses, such as the LLM Guide. Yes, I really enjoyed my studies, due to the flexibility of the course. I think this programme allowed me to obtain specialist knowledge and also to develop a more critical analysis about the Brazilian tax system and its position in the international tax scenario. It is also important to highlight that the University of London provides students with excellent resources (such as the online library and the study guides), allowing them to guide their studies through the self-study method.

What led you to choose your specialism in International Business Law?
The two modules that I chose first were ‘Taxation Principles and Policy’ and ‘The Corporate Finance and Management Issues in Company Law’ as their content is closely related to my work. I then selected the modules of ‘Multinational Enterprises and the Law’ and ‘Law of Financial Crime’ in order to specialize in International Business Law, because my work also involves advising Brazilian and foreign companies on local and international tax matters, both for structuring transactions and investments in Brazil and prevention of tax infractions. Brazil not only has a high tax burden, it also has an extremely complex system of tax law and regulations. This makes my work hard, but also very rewarding.

Is there a module that you particularly enjoyed?
Yes, sure. I particularly enjoyed the course ‘Taxation Principles and Policy’ which covers the fundamental principles and policies underlying taxation. Although the course uses the United Kingdom tax system as a basis of study, the themes of the aims and underlying features of tax are relevant to understanding any tax system, including the Brazilian one. All the four relevant modules were very rewarding, especially the ‘United Kingdom Taxes I’ as it deals with Corporation Tax and the issues related to double taxation with Corporation Tax. I would recommend that the University of London make other courses in connection with taxation issues available in the future. In fact, it would be very interesting if the University of London were to offer an LLM with a specialization in Tax Law (or International Tax Law).

"It is also important to highlight that the University of London provides students with excellent resources (such as the online library and the study guides), allowing them to guide their studies through the self-study method."

How did you manage balancing study for your LLM with work commitments?
It is not easy to combine working with studying. Due to the fact that my work is really time-consuming, I only studied for the LLM at the weekends. In principle, the main characteristic of distance learning is the flexibility to study at the convenience of the student. However, in order to obtain good marks in the examinations, it is important to focus on the modules that really interest you, especially taking into account that it is necessary to make some sacrifices in relation to lifestyle. So, it was extremely important to maximise time, being productive and prepared to make adjustments to the study schedule (for instance, not studying on a specific weekend). Although I had to plan ahead, I also had to be realistic about the number of hours of studying available for the course. As a result, I had to be realistic in the quantity of examinations to take in the same session and that is why I took three years to complete the LLM programme.

What opportunities do you think the University of London LLM will open for you?
I am sure that this LLM will lead to positive outcomes. First of all, I have had the chance to gain experience and maintain contact with other students who live around the world. Furthermore, together with intellectual skills and professional expertise in a specialist area of law, I believe that the LLM also enables students to develop a wide range of useful skills to use in any kind of work, such as legal research and writing. Therefore, the completion of the LLM will also help me in the practice of tax law in Brazil.

Now you have finished the programme, what are your plans?
Along with the practice of tax law in Brazil, I would like to be able to share some of my experiences obtained on the LLM programme in academic life. I am also interested in progressing my academic studies onto a PhD course.

What would be your advice for other students considering doing a degree with the University of London in Brazil?
My advice would be to be prepared for the examinations. In my opinion, there are two different things about this LLM. One is studying the course material in order to learn and perhaps to use the material in professional and/or academic life. Another completely different thing is preparing for the examination session. Considering that each module is assessed by a 45-minute unseen written examination I would recommend that Brazilian students, when focusing on the test, set up 45 minutes on the timer of their clocks and then make several simulations of the possible examination questions, making specific references (i) to authors and the books of the essential readings; (ii) to new information presented in the last recent developments; (iii) to additional readings; and (iv) to provisions from the legislation. There are several legislative reforms going on in the United Kingdom and I would also suggest to Brazilian students that it is important to show the examiners that they know the relevant subject in detail.

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