Yesterday the president of Poland signed the Act which will in effect abolish the exclusive control of access to legal professions for law graduates by professional organisations such as the Bar Council or the Council of Solicitors. The legal profession in Poland, consisting most of all of: barristers (adwokaci), legal advisors/solicitors (radcy prawni), judges (sedziowie), notaries (notariusze), prosecutors (prokuratorzy), has so far remained under virtually sole control of these organisations. They organised entry exams, examined candidates, planned and carried out the training for the prospective lawyers, and were in charge of the final exams for accessing the professions.
The main changes introduced by the Act are:
1. Instead of the entrance and the final exam organised by the organisations - a state exam,
2. Possibility of becoming a barrister, a solicitor or a notary without having to go through the formal training by the organisations (only upon passing the final state exam) - using two routes:
i. having performed legal services for five years in an unqualified status, or
ii. having a PhD in law.
3. Possibility of becoming a barrister, a solicitor or a notary without the training and without having to pass the final exam for professors of law and habilitated doctors of law.
4. Possibility of becoming a barrister or a solicitor after qualifying in another legal
The professional organisations of lawyers have stood firm against these changes, arguing that they will mean decrease in the quality of legal services. The policy of these organisations was however widely criticised (even by the Constitutional Tribunal) as enabling favoritism of family members and simply keeping the numbers of lawyers in the market under strict control for fear of competition. It is this very competition which is hoped to ensure the quality of legal services is not compromised.
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