Luiz Olavo Baptista was born on July 24, 1938, in Itu, São Paulo. After obtaining his law degree, with honors, from the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo in 1963, he began to practice as a lawyer in the fields of family and business law in his first office, a small rented room with a typewriter and a shared landline.
Soon enough, Baptista made partner in an office founded in the same year of his birth – Celidônio & Baptista Advogados. With the onset of the Brazilian military dictatorship, however, he turned to criminal law, defending the rights of political prisoners and denouncing the director of the regime’s repression agency (the DOI-CODI) to Amnesty International. After years active as a defense attorney against the regime, Baptista started receiving death threats. He decided it was best to flee the country, and moved to Paris with his wife and son.
In Paris, Baptista completed his Doctorate on Joint Ventures in International Law at the Université de Paris II. Back in Brazil, he resumed practice and became a pioneer of arbitration law, researching and publishing profusely at the Faculty of Law of the University of São Paulo, where he taught international law for three decades.
In 1996, the professor was appointed Grand Officer of the Order of Rio Branco by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil. In 2001, the President of Brazil nominated Baptista to the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization, an institution he was presided between 2007 and 2008. After leaving the WTO and returning to legal and arbitration practice in Brazil at his firm – which then bore his name, L.O. Baptista Advogados -, Baptista continued working as arbitrator and attorney.
He finally left his firm in 2015, to found the education and research non-profit Atelier Jurídico, as well as the law firm Nakagawa Baptista & Baptista, where Professor Baptista continued to dedicate himself to arbitration and the issue of expert legal opinions.
Luiz Olavo Baptista spoke at numerous events and interviews, practiced law, published articles, and issued opinions until the last month of his life. He died in São Paulo (SP) on October 18, 2019, at the age of 81, leaving his family and a legion of students and admirers.