The REFOTRA project (Recognition of foreign training activities for lawyers) was a project co-funded by the EU Justice programme that ran from 1st July 2018 to 30 June 2020. Rules on the continuing legal education (CLE) of EU lawyers after qualification are not harmonised and depend on each Member State’s own decisions. This means that cross-border CLE (i.e. CLE undertaken by a lawyer in a Member State different to the one where he/she has legal training obligations) is not always easily recognised under national schemes. That is why the REFOTRA project was so important.
The project was successfully implemented on all fronts. First, the project’s objectives were fully achieved, as follows:
3. During the project’s phase 3, the only solution considered as possible for the test of cross-border recognition of training was piloted by a number of Bars and Law Societies with varying CLE schemes. The results were very positive and led to the identification of challenges and how to address them.
The very successful results were possible due to the engagement of the various participating actors. The main work was undertaken by the project core team, composed of representatives of ELF, the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), the Italian Bar Association, the Law Society of Ireland and the National Polish Council of Attorneys-At-Law. In addition, Bars and Law Societies of the EU and the EEA provided very positive insights under phase 1. In phase 3, various Bars participated in the testing of the solution identified under phase 2 (the REFOTRA certificate template), which ensured that the proposed solution is a valid method for easier recognition of cross-border training for lawyers in the EU. Likewise, the Training Committee of the CCBE, composed of experts on training of lawyers from various EU jurisdictions, also provided help in making the project a success.
This project is financed with the support of the Justice Programme of the European Union.
Results of the project
The project partners managed to easily reach and go far beyond the project’s quantitative objective included in the Grant Agreement, which was to train 630 lawyers on the new EU Data Protection Reform. More precisely, the total number of lawyers trained through the 20 TRADATA seminars, which took place in the lifecycle of the project, reached the impressive number of 1085 (455 lawyers more than the committed number). The chart pie below indicates the number of lawyers trained in each one of the 20 TRADATA seminars.
The chart pie below indicates the jurisdictions where trained lawyers exercise their profession.
Important training material coming from our seminars can be freely accessed through the data protection training material section on the ELF’s website. TRADATA is one of the 6 European projects which received financial support from the European Union under the 2017 call for action grants to support training activities on the data protection reform and the only one which is solely addressed to lawyers.
This project is financed with the support of the REC Programme of the European Union.
The European Commission has dedicated the year 2017 to focused actions to combat all forms of violence against women, which are promoted through the Non.No.Nein campaign. Information about these actions is now available on the European Commission’s dedicated website on violence against women. TRAVAW (Training of Lawyers in legal cases of Violence against Women), included as one of the main projects in this campaign, aims to promote the role of lawyers as part of the solution to the problem of gender-based violence.
To read the full TRAVAW story on the European Commission’s website click here. To download the article in PDF format click here.
The testimonials from members of the project team which feature in the European Commission’s campaign are available below.
The European Lawyers Foundation (ELF), in partnership with the Spanish Bar, the Athens Bar, the Italian Bar, the Irish Law Society and the Polish Legal advisors, implemented the TRALIM project over the last 12 months. TRALIM stands for Training of lawyers on the European law relating to immigration and asylum and it was awarded funding by DG Justice. The main achievements of the project were to train more lawyers than foreseen (150 lawyers instead of 130 committed to the European Commission) for a lower cost (20% savings from the forecast budget), all by ensuring high quality of training, smooth organisation of the four training events and high satisfaction of participants and speakers who enthusiastically took part (average satisfaction rate of 4.22/5).
The project was a win-win situation for all the parties directly or indirectly involved. First of all, 150 lawyers from the partner countries received good training from speakers with extensive experience in immigration and asylum cases. The lawyers also had the chance to find out more about the legal framework and procedures followed in other countries and to exchange experiences and business cards with their counterparts from these other countries. The 150 trained lawyers are now more familiar with EU immigration and asylum law, which puts them in a position to offer better advice to their clients when dealing with such cases. Through a multiplier effect, well-trained lawyers can potentially become trainers at national level and disseminate the knowledge they obtained during the TRALIM seminars. Further, partner bars had a unique chance through this project to organise low-cost training activities for their members, with control over the selection processes for national speakers and participants.
The legal aspects linked to the ongoing refugee crisis will continue to be an important issue for the EU and for lawyers practising in EU Member States for years to come. Therefore, building on the success of the TRALIM project, ELF is now working on a continuation, which aims to extend the number of lawyers trained. Further, this new project will include additional seminars on the topic of unaccompanied minor migrants. A new component is also being considered, namely the inclusion of funds for some of the participating lawyers to go to migration hotspots for a short period of time. This will allow these lawyers to become familiar with the situation in the hotspots and to learn from local lawyers who represent migrants in these places. The continuation project will be presented to the EU for funding, and it will show the commitment of EU lawyers to the protection of migrant rights.
The European Lawyers Foundation has led the effort for the establishment of a comprehensive and provenly effective multilateral exchange scheme for lawyers in Europe. The Multilateral Exchange of Lawyers project, co-funded by the Justice Programme of the European Union, commenced with high hopes and ended with the necessary results to prove its feasibility and success. In the two years of the project (July 2017 – July 2019), 75 lawyers from 7 EU Member States have benefited from the possibility of working abroad in host institutions of the legal sector and have rated their experience with an average of 4.75 out of 5.
This is how the exchange mechanism roughly works: lawyers who have passed a national selection process are offered a placement in host institutions abroad (in bars or law firms) according to their preferences, profile, spoken languages and areas of expertise. During their placement, which lasts 10 working days, participants are supervised by a lawyer in the host institution, who is responsible for giving them assignments, providing information and insights on national legislation and accompanying them in day-to-day professional work. Further to this, participants may be able to attend court hearings, to participate in conferences and seminars, to visit national institutions based in the host country, or to attend networking events.
Alongside the excellent ratings, participating lawyers and host institutions stress the added value of the project in the following regards: a) greater mobility of lawyers in Europe b) increased knowledge of foreign legal systems c) consolidation of cross-border networks of lawyers and law firms and d) contribution to the development of a European judicial culture. But the effort cannot stop here. Based on the successful mechanism in place, the European Lawyers Foundation has been awarded by the European Commission a continuation project called LAWYEREX, so that more European lawyers can benefit from the knowledge and experience gained from the exchanges abroad.
Testimonials from participants in the project can be found below.
The European Lawyers Foundation (ELF) is headquartered in The Hague, The Netherlands. It was established by the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) in 2014.
ELF’s objective is to undertake projects that relate to the exercise of the profession of lawyers, the development of the law and practice pertaining to the rule of law and administration of justice and substantive developments in the law itself, both at a European and international level. ELF works mainly in two areas:
A) European projects: these are projects implemented within the EU, and mostly funded by the European Union. They cover a broad spectrum of issues: from training lawyers in different areas of law to drafting studies on important EU instruments.
B) External projects: these are focused on issues related to the profession (for example, our projects funded by the International Bar Association in Ukraine and Kazakhstan on improving the quality of legal services in these countries) and to issues on the rule of Law (such as our project on re-establishing the rule of law in Venezuela).
The European Lawyers Foundation (ELF) and the CCBE were awarded last year a project to carry out a study on “EAW-Rights: analysis of the implementation and operation of the European Arrest Warrant from the point of view of defence practitioners”. The project, which ended on 2nd November 2016, aimed to contribute to the correct and consistent implementation of the European Arrest Warrant; in particular, the project focused on the following objectives:
- Identification of the implementation at national level of the Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA on the European Arrest Warrant in all EU Member States.
- Identification of good practices carried out in the 28 Member States in order to ensure defence rights
- Presentation of recommendations focused on the improvement of defence rights in EAW cases
The project’s main result was the development of a study that addresses these objectives. It can be downloaded for free at the following link. Further to this, ELF continues working on the EAW due to the importance of this legal instrument for those detained under it and their lawyers. ELF is now working on a proposal called EAW-Net. The object of this new project is to allow experienced practitioners from different Member States to network around a theme of mutual learning and exchange of best practices. The need for a network between EAW defence practitioners, especially in the context of dual representation in both issuing and executing states, was highlighted by the national experts who contributed to the EAW-Rights study.
On 15 June 2016, the European Lawyers Foundation began implementing the TRALIM project, co-financed by the European Union. The aim of the project is to train 130 lawyers from 5 different Member States (Spain, Greece, Ireland, Italy and Poland) on EU Law relating to asylum and immigration from the perspective of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The project, which takes place through 4 seminars, will last 12 months. After the first 6 months, and now that the two first seminars have been held, it is time to undertake a mid-term evaluation.
The first seminar was held in Madrid in October, and the second one in Athens in December 2016. The seminars each had a duration of 1,5 days. The TRALIM seminars offer a good example of how training can deal with important topics while at the same time offering the participants networking opportunities.
By the mid-term of the project’s life, TRALIM has proved to be a success story. The seminars in Madrid and Athens have been well attended (indeed we have surpassed the expected number of lawyers so far by 17, and we expect by the end of project to have trained more than the 130 lawyers we were committed to with the European Commission). The evaluations of the two seminars also show that the participants are satisfied with the speakers, the content, the mix of participants from different countries and the structure.
The success is thanks to the highly qualified lawyers selected by the bars to participate in the seminars, the high quality of the speakers and the excellent relationship between the European Lawyers Foundation and its project partners (the Spanish Bar, the Athens Bar, the Law Society of Ireland, the Italian Bar and the Polish legal advisors).
We look forward to the two remaining seminars in Dublin (February 2016) and Rome (April 2016).