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How a Professional LLM in Canadian Common Law helped Filipe Reis de Carvalho set down roots in Canada

July 3, 2024

Elisa Romano

Few people embody their occupation as perfectly as international tax specialist Filipe Reis de Carvalho.

In his current role at Scotiabank’s Toronto headquarters, the Brazilian-born graduate of Osgoode’s part-time Professional LLM in Canadian Common Law program advises a global financial institution on U.S. federal tax issues.

“International experience is something I have always valued as a great opportunity for me and my career,” Filipe says. “The move to Canada was a big adjustment, but we jumped right in. There have been ups and downs on the journey – mostly ups – but we are very grateful to be here.”

Filipe traces his career path all the way back to Grade 7, which is when he set his sights on the legal profession, inspired partly by a lawyer uncle.

“I was always hearing from people that I had the personality traits to make a great lawyer, so I decided that would be my aim. And I never changed my mind,” he says. “It was a natural path.”

Finding a practice area proved a little more challenging for Filipe, who initially found himself drawn to constitutional law during his legal studies in his native Brazil, where he was eventually licensed as a lawyer in 2009.

“Then life took me in a different direction,” Filipe adds, explaining that he applied for a traineeship at global accounting and consulting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers on a whim, only to discover he felt at home at the intersection of accounting and law.

Following a brief spell in private practice as a member of the tax law group at a large Sao Paulo law firm, Filipe left the country to pursue an MBA in the U.S., before returning to PwC Brazil to work in its international tax structuring team, where he advised a variety of private and multinational clients on Brazilian and U.S. federal tax issues.

When the possibility of a secondment at PwC’s Toronto office was presented to Filipe in 2017, he leapt at the chance.

“I’d never been to Canada, but it was a very exciting opportunity for me and my wife,” he says.

What was supposed to be a temporary transfer eventually became permanent and the couple have since welcomed two sons to the family in their new home.

“We became citizens a couple of years ago, so we have fully embraced Canadian life,” Filipe says.

But as Filipe and his family became increasingly settled in Canada, he began to feel a little exposed professionally and decided to explore his options for re-qualifying as a lawyer in his adopted country. Osgoode’s Professional LLM in Canadian Common Law quickly emerged as the ideal choice.

For Filipe, the deciding factor was the flexibility of Osgoode’s part-time program, which allowed him to work towards his Professional LLM in Canadian Common Law while also fulfilling the duties of his new role as a senior manager at Scotiabank.

His 2023 graduation was a testament to Filipe’s multitasking skills, coinciding as it did with a work promotion to Scotiabank’s Director, Tax Operational Risk.

In addition to bonding with his classmates – who included internationally trained lawyers and professionals with legal experience – one of the highlights of Filipe’s Osgoode experience was a chance to reconnect with his passion for constitutional law – this time from a Canadian perspective.

“The Canadian Constitutional Law course stood out, but I thought all the professors were great,” Filipe adds.

The core courses of Osgoode’s Professional LLM in Canadian Common Law are specifically designed to meet the requirements of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada’s National Committee on Accreditation, which leaves Filipe perfectly poised to complete the re-qualification process whenever he is ready to proceed.

“I would also love to do some teaching in tax law. I’ve been doing this for almost 15 years and that would be a good way to give back,” Filipe says.

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