Sua Sponte

A father and daughter by the Duke Law sign in front of the building

André Pinelli LLM ’23 and Lorena Carvalho Pinelli LLM ’23 arrived at Duke with a level of support unique among their class of international students: They are father and daughter, a first for the Law School.

“I have my safety net here,” Lorena says. “I brought it with me.”

André and Lorena discovered they’d each been pondering an LLM in 2020. André was a solo practitioner with 25 years of experience in their hometown of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, while Lorena had been working in anti-corruption and compliance law in Rio de Janeiro. 

“I think it was probably May when I saw my father studying for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language),” Lorena says. “I asked about it and he said it was because he was thinking about doing an LLM in the U.S. And at the time I was like, ‘Okay, that’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. It would be perfect for us to go together.’”

They had four classes together in the fall and one in the spring, Immigration Law, an area of law they both gravitated toward as they considered what to do after graduation.

André’s wife (and Lorena’s mother) Helê Pinelli and their 12-year-old son, Arthur, also joined them, and the family’s house in nearby Cary became a hub for other students at holidays and other occasions. 

“My friends really like my father,” Lorena says. “I send a message on WhatsApp asking, ‘You guys know where my father is?’ And one time … someone sent back a picture of the two of them having a beer at the Devil’s Krafthouse at Duke.”

André, who describes going back to school with his daughter as a “blessing,” is now working in an immigration practice in Raleigh, while Lorena is practicing remotely for a firm in New Jersey. 

Share this article:

Cover Fall 2023 - Lady Justice with AI Symbols

Fall 2023
Volume 42 No. 2