In 2017, the European Lawyers Foundation (ELF) took the initiative to present and pilot an exchange of lawyers, similar to the one available for judges and prosecutors and run by the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN). This new exchange scheme was named the Multilateral Exchange of Lawyers and, through its implementation, the ELF led the effort for the establishment of a comprehensive and effective exchange scheme for lawyers in Europe. Five years after the launch of the first project, the exchange scheme for lawyers is well-established, fully-operational and highly-regarded by participating lawyers, law firms and Bars. Based on the successful mechanism in place, ELF in partnership with 10 lawyers’ organisations have now launched the third consecutive continuation of the project which will run from May 2022 until May 2025.
Needs that the project aims to address
The European Commission identified a lack of training exchange schemes at EU level for legal professionals other than judges and prosecutors. Responding to this need, lawyers, representing by number the largest group of legal professionals, decided to continue their own exchange scheme for the third consecutive time, mirroring the one implemented on a continuing basis by the European Judicial Training Network. This is precisely the main need that our project aims to address: to make possible such an exchange of lawyers at a permanent basis, so they can learn about other Member States’ legal systems, create or consolidate networking capacities and improve their legal language skills, as has been proved to be the case in the previous two editions of the project. All participants in the continuation project will be qualified lawyers with up to 7 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.
To provide continuity to the first EU-wide training exchange scheme for lawyers, which was set up by the MULTILAW and continued by LAWYEREX (on the basis of the scheme used by EJTN for the exchange of judges and prosecutors), by providing exchange opportunities to 124 lawyers from the 10 partners in this project.
To enhance European lawyers’ practical knowledge of other legal systems in Europe through direct contacts, increase in knowledge and sharing of experiences with their counterparts in 9 different EU Member States.
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. Lawyers participating in the training exchange (incoming lawyers and their supervisors in host institutions) 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 more mobile within the EU and better trained in different EU Member States’ legal systems.
Co-funded by the European Union
In 2017, the European Lawyers Foundation and a group of Bars launched a pioneering EU-funded project which established lawyer exchanges between various Member States. This first initiative continued via the #LAWYEREX project, which increased the number of lawyers and Bars participating in the exchanges. LAWYEREX will end on 31 January 2022, but ELF has been awarded further EU funds to continue with lawyer exchanges through the LAWYEREX 2 project, which includes more Bars and will exchange more lawyers than ever.
As a farewell to the LAWYEREX project and to welcome LAWYEREX 2, we have prepared an appreciation in the form of a video. It is intended for those lawyers who have participated in the project’s activities to date (the physical exchanges and also the online activities which we organised as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic), and for those who will participate in the future. We would also like to thank those Bars which have supported ELF in these successful initiatives.
PRACTICAL GUIDE 2022-2025