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. Two years after the launch of the pilot 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 continuation project called LAWYEREX.
2. 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 introduce for the first time in 2017 their own exchange scheme, 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 first 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.
This project aims to offer the opportunity for 107 European lawyers to be trained abroad in host institutions of the legal sector. Participating lawyers will share experiences, create networks and learn from the working life of their counterparts in bars and law firms from 8 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 a multilateral exchange between legal practitioners (other than 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. 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.