Half of Brazil’s Public Defenders Not Happy with Job

The Diagnosis of the Public Defenders Office in Brazil shows that 47.1% of Federal Public Defenders would prefer another job in the judicial realm.

“This is very disturbing,” affirmed the researcher in charge of the study, Maria Tereza Sadek, political science professor at the University of São Paulo (USP).


She added that 38.6% of the country’s public defenders are preparing for other careers. “The judicial careers most esteemed by public defenders are federal judgeships and the Federal Public Interest Defense Ministry,” she observed.


There are 3,440 public defenders in Brazil at present. This means 1.86 public defender for each 100 thousand in the population, while the percentage of judges amounts to 7.7 per 100 thousand inhabitants.


The majority of public defenders are women, their average age is 43, and they are white and married. Most of the members of the sample, 62.7%, entered the career by way of civil service examination.


There is no national salary standard. The average starting salary is US$ 1,578 (R$ 4,279.80), with a peak salary of US$ 2,105.62 (R$ 5,708.35) per month.


Among the characteristics that influence their career choice is the chance to provide legal help to the needy and, in second place, the chance to perform a social service and the stability of a government job.


The study indicates that, in general, the survey participants have a very high regard for the work of the public defenders office. The highest marks go to the areas of family and criminal law and jury trial courts.


The survey allowed the respondents to indicate what they think are the best proposals to improve the way justice is dispensed.


Nearly all (98%) said they are “totally in favor” of administrative, budgetary, and financial independence.


The proposals that were least favored are: the institution of auditors who are not members of the profession, outside control of the public defenders office, and the participation of civil society in the definition of working priorities.


Agência Brasil
Translator: David Silberstein

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