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1. Defining the activity
The lawyer is a legal professional whose mission is to assist and/or represent the parties in the event of a dispute. He is competent to apply and plead before the courts, disciplinary bodies or public authorities.
The lawyer is also required to seek amicable solutions, receive judicial assignments, conduct legal consultations or write acts for others (acts under private seing, mail, formal notice, etc.).
b. competent CFE
The relevant CFE depends on the nature of the structure in which the activity is carried out:
- for a liberal profession, the competent CFE is the Urssaf;
- for civil societies, this is the registry of the Commercial Court;
- for civil societies in the departments of the Lower Rhine, Upper Rhine and Moselle, this is the registry of the district court.
Good to know
The activity is considered commercial as long as the company has more than ten employees (except in the Lower Rhine, Upper Rhine and Moselle where the activity remains artisanal regardless of the number of employees of the company provided that it does not use an industrial process). On the other hand, if the company has ten or fewer employees, its activity is considered artisanal. Finally, if the professional has a buying and resale activity, his activity is both artisanal and commercial.
Two degrees. Installation conditions
a. Professional qualifications
The practice of practising as a lawyer is reserved for those who are on the bar of lawyers, and who:
- have a master's degree in law (B.A. 4) or a training degree recognized as equivalent;
- hold the Certificate of Fitness to Practise (CAPA) obtained at a regional training centre, with exceptions;
- have not been criminally convicted for acts contrary to honour, probity or good morals;
- have not been subject to disciplinary or administrative sanctions of dismissal, dismissal, dismissal, withdrawal of accreditation or authorization;
- have not been subject to personal bankruptcy.
To go further Article 11 of Law 71-1130 of 31 December 1971 on the reform of certain judicial and legal professions.
b. Professional Qualifications - EU or EEA nationals (Free Service Or Free Establishment)
For a temporary and casual exercise (LPS)
Any national of an EU or EEA state who is legally practising as a lawyer in one of these states may use his or her professional title in France on a temporary and casual basis.
He will have to represent his clients in accordance with the rules that apply to French lawyers.
In the case of representation before a Court of Appeal or in the case of proceedings before the high court subject to mandatory representation, the national will have to elect residence with an authorized lawyer.
To go further Articles 202 to 202-3 of Decree 91-1197 of November 27, 1991 organizing the profession of lawyer.
For a permanent exercise (LE)
There are two separate regimes for practising as a lawyer in France, under two European Union directives:
- under Directive 98/5/EC of 16 February 1998, any national may practise, in any other Member State, the activities of a lawyer under his or her original professional title, subject to registration with the National Bar Council. After 3 years of practice under its original title, and under certain conditions, any national may benefit from assimilation under the French title (see Articles 83 and following of Law 71-1130 of 31 December 1971 on the reform of certain judicial and legal professions), and Articles 93-1 and 201 of Decree No. 91-1197 of 27 November 1991 organising the profession of lawyer);
- under the European Parliament and Council Directive 2005/36/EC of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications, any national of an EU or EEA state may settle in France to practise as a lawyer if he has completed a post-secondary education cycle of at least one year and justifies:- or a training title that allows the profession to be practised in that state,
- or practising the profession for at least one year in the last ten years, in a state that does not regulate access or the practice of the profession.
Once he fulfils one of these conditions, he will be able to apply to the National Bar Council for recognition of his professional qualifications (see infra "3o. c. Request recognition of the EU or EEA national's professional qualifications for a permanent exercise (LE) ").
He can then apply for registration on the bar board of the place in which he wishes to practice.
What to know
The supporting documents required for inclusion on the board depend on the bar chosen by the national.
If there are substantial differences between his training and the professional qualifications required in France, the national may be subjected to an aptitude test (see infra "3o. c. Good to know: compensation measure").
To go further Articles 99 and 203 of Decree 91-1197 of 27 November 1991 organising the profession of lawyer; Decree of October 10, 2017 setting out the program and the modalities of the aptitude examination for Articles 204-2 and 204-3 of Decree 91-1197 of November 27, 1991 organizing the profession of lawyer.
c. Honorability and incompatibility
The National Bar Council has incorporated into its National Internal Regulation (RIN), the Code of Ethics applicable to all lawyers practising in France.
As such, the lawyer must respect the codified ethical rules, including the rules relating to:
- Professional secrecy;
- respect for the principle of the contradictory;
- Confidentiality of exchanges;
- duty of care.
For more information, it is advisable to refer to the National Bar Council website .
The legal profession is incompatible with:
- any commercial activity. However, the development of an ancillary business activity is permitted under certain conditions (see Article 111 of Decree 91-1197 of 27 November 1991 amended in 2016);
- the functions of partner in a partnership, a general partner in limited partnerships and shares, a manager in a limited liability company, chairman of the board of directors, a member of the board of directors or a member of the board of directors Managing director of a limited company, managing director of a civil society;
- the exercise of any other profession except teaching, as an associate of a member of Parliament or as an assistant senator, as a substitute for a district judge, as a member assessor of children's courts or in the courts of social security cases, as well as those of arbitrators, rural leases, prud'homme councillors, mediator tribunal members, conciliators or receivers.
To go further Articles 111 to 123 of Decree 91-1197 of November 27, 1991 organizing the profession of lawyer.
d. Some peculiarities of the regulation of the activity
Obligation to take out professional liability insurance and to justify a financial guarantee
Professional liability insurance
A liberal lawyer must take out professional liability insurance.
On the other hand, if he practises as an employee, this insurance is only optional. In this case, it is up to the employer to take out such insurance for its employees for the acts carried out during their professional activity.
The lawyer must be covered for any acts he commits as part of his exercise to the tune of a minimum of 1,500,000 euros.
To go further Articles 205 and 206 of Decree 91-1197 of November 27, 1991 organizing the profession of lawyer.
The lawyer must justify a financial guarantee that will be allocated to the repayment of the funds received during his activity. This is a bonding commitment made to a bank or credit institution, an insurance company or a mutual surety company. Its amount must be at least equal to that of the funds it plans to hold.
To go further Articles 210 to 225 of Decree 91-1197 of November 27, 1991 organizing the profession of lawyer.
Continuous vocational training
The lawyer must update his knowledge and develop his skills throughout his career during annual continuing training.
Continuing education must be at least 20 hours per year or 40 hours in two consecutive years.
The lawyer newly placed on the bar will also have to follow 10 hours of ethics in his first two years.
These trainings must be declared to the Council of the Bar Association by 31 January of the past calendar year. The lawyer will have to attach to this statement any proof that he participated in such training.
To go further Articles 85 and 85-1 of Decree 91-1197 of November 27, 1991 organizing the profession of lawyer.
The lawyer may specialize in an area of law and obtain mention of it on his title.
The application for the specialization on the board must be accompanied by the certificate of specialization obtained. The National Bar Council lists lawyers who are allowed to use one or two specializations.
To go further Articles 86 and 87 of Decree 91-1197 of November 27, 1991 organizing the profession of lawyer.
Three degrees. Installation procedures and formalities
a. Company reporting formalities
Depending on the nature of his activity, the contractor must register with the Urssaf or with the Commercial Court Registry.
In addition, the lawyer may practice his profession in an individual enterprise in the form of a professional civil society (SCP) or a liberal practice company (SEL).
If he is engaged in his activity as a limited liability individual contractor (EIRL), he must submit to the College a copy of the declaration of assignment of the assets that he has filed with the special register of the EIRL.
To go further Article 7 of Law 71-1130 of 31 December 1971 on the reform of certain judicial and legal professions. It is advisable to check with the relevant CFE for more information.
b. Inclusion on the Bar Of The Bar of the Order of Lawyers
The application to register with the Order is addressed to the sticker by registered mail with acknowledgement.
The supporting documents that accompany the application may vary from bar to bar.
However, the person concerned will at least have to send:
- A copy of bulletin 3 of the criminal record of less than three months;
- A copy of the master's degree or equivalent supporting documents depending on the person's situation;
- A copy of CAPA or equivalent supporting documents depending on the individual's situation;
- A valid piece of identification
- The minutes of the swearing-in.
The Council of the Order will have two months to decide on the application for registration. If refused, notified by recommended letter with acknowledgement, the applicant may challenge the decision and appeal to the Court of Appeal.
To go further Article 101 and following of Decree 91-1197 of November 27, 1991 organizing the profession of lawyer.
c. Request recognition of the EU or EEA national's professional qualifications for a permanent exercise (LE)
The National Bar Council is responsible for deciding on the application for recognition of the professional qualifications of the national wishing to settle in France to practise as a lawyer.
In support of the application, the national will have to send a file to the appropriate authority, including:
- A valid piece of identification
- any documentation justifying that he has successfully completed a post-secondary education;
- copies of training titles or any documents justifying access to the legal profession issued in an EU or EEA state;
- a certificate justifying that the national has practised the profession in an EU or EEA state for one year in the last ten years when that state does not regulate training or access to the requested profession or its exercise;
- a certificate of registration of less than three months from the competent authority of the EU State or the EEA in which he has acquired his legal title.
What to know
If necessary, the pieces must be translated into French by a certified translator.
The National Bar Council will have one month to inform the national of any missing documents. He will then have three months to decide on the application or submit the national to a compensation measure.
In the event of a silence, the application will be deemed rejected. However, the national may apply to the Paris Court of Appeal for reconsideration of his application.
To go further Article 99 of Decree 91-1197 of November 27, 1991 organizing the profession of lawyer.
Good to know: compensation measure
The aptitude test organised in case of substantial differences between the training and professional experience of the national with those required in France consists of an oral test before a jury. The national will be required to pass a ten-minute presentation on a randomly drawn subject, as well as an interview with the jury of about 20 minutes.
To go further : decree of October 10, 2017 setting out the program and the modalities of the aptitude examination provided for in Articles 204-2 and 204-3 of Decree 91-1197 of November 27, 1991 organizing the profession of lawyer.