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Lawyers without borders [What Europe does for you]

With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for lawyers without borders.

European Union law, legislation and parliament concept with a 3d rendering of a gavel on a wooden desktop and the EU flag on background.

© niroworld / Fotolia

Divergent national rules on access to the legal professions create a barrier for lawyers wishing to benefit from the internal market. So that lawyers can move freely, the European Union has enacted two tailor-made directives (in 1977 and 1998), enabling a form of mutual recognition of legal qualifications. Under this legislation, a qualified lawyer established in an EU Member State may provide legal services to clients in other Member States. They must use their professional title from the country where they are established, and must follow the professional conduct requirements of the country of origin and the host country. While the legislation allows lawyers to practice law permanently in a different Member State, the host country may require that the foreign lawyer act jointly with a local professional when representing a client in court. After three years of practice, a lawyer may join the legal profession of the host country without any additional examinations. As of 2012, some 3 500 lawyers have established themselves in another Member State and 300 lawyers have become fully integrated with the local legal profession.

Lawyers can also benefit from the rules of the Professional Qualifications Directive (2005). Member States may require either a three year adaptation period, or an aptitude test on local law. As of 2012, some 3 500 lawyers have had their professional titles recognised under this legislation.

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