1. Current situation
The current situation is characterised by a lack of training exchange schemes at EU level to encourage practical expertise in lawyers in EU law and other Member States’ legal systems. EU national and local Bars and other organisations such as the European Lawyers Foundation work every day to include more EU law content in the training programmes that they (or their training institutes) offer to lawyers. However, this training is normally undertaken through seminars and conferences, so that while the theoretical part is guaranteed, more practical experience is necessary. This creates a contradiction: lawyers may have participated in academic exchanges while studying law at universities abroad but do not have the possibility to undertake similar exchanges after their qualification as lawyers. But the qualified lawyer should also have the opportunity to put into practice the knowledge learnt during a university exchange, and to consolidate the networking that, in one way or another, was created during such an exchange.
2. Needs that the project aims to address
The necessities regarding training of lawyers in EU Law were underlined by the European Commission’s “Study on the state of play of training of lawyers in EU Law” (2013). This study included recommendations for the future organisation of training for lawyers in European law and practice. Amongst the recommendations was included the need to promote the exchange of lawyers (young lawyers with up to 5 years’ professional experience). This is indeed the basis of this project: to make possible the exchange of such lawyers so they can learn about other Member States’ legal systems, create or consolidate networking capacities and improve their legal language skills. All the participants in this project will be young lawyers with up to 5 years of professional experience, and they will be selected on the basis of criteria to be agreed by the partners at the beginning of the project.
This project aims to offer the opportunity for 75 European lawyers to be trained abroad for a period of two weeks in host institutions of the legal sector. It is based on the assumption that a training exchange scheme which has proved to be of added value for judges and prosecutors, namely the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN), should be mirrored and put effectively in place for the benefit of lawyers. It is also a comprehensive attempt to facilitate the mobility of lawyers to other EU countries, offering the possibility to qualified lawyers to share experiences and integrate the working life of their counterparts in bars and law firms from 7 different countries in Europe. Besides, this project shares the major policy objectives set by the European Commission, namely: a) to enable half of the legal practitioners in the EU to participate in European judicial training activities by 2020 b) to develop a common judicial culture within the European judicial area c) to give the opportunity to lawyers to become familiar with the legal systems of other Member States and d) to implement the first comprehensive multilateral exchange between legal practitioners (other than for judges and prosecutors).
4. Target group
Lawyers represent (by number) the highest collective number of legal practitioners. There are approximately 1 million lawyers in the European Union and many of them are engaged in cross border activities. Therefore, it is necessary that an effective exchange programme is addressed to this group, in the same way as judges and prosecutors benefit from the exchange programmes implemented by the EJTN. Lawyers participating in the training exchange will be the direct target group. They will learn and immerse themselves in other Member States’ legal systems by integrating into the working life of their counterparts abroad. Host institutions will also benefit by having incoming lawyers present. Finally, citizens are indirect beneficiaries as it is in their interest to have lawyers better trained in different EU Member States’ legal systems.
5. Partner countries