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:
1. An “Assessment report on the situation in EU and EEA Member States regarding recognition of foreign training” was produced as part of the project’s phase 1. This document was the result of an analysis of the responses to a questionnaire completed by Bars and Law Societies of EU and EEA Member States, which provided very useful data for phase 2 of the project.
2. Based on the results of the assessment undertaken in phase 1, the project team worked on possible solutions to facilitate the recognition of cross-border training. All the work in this phase was contained in a document submitted to the EC on “Recommendations for solutions to facilitate the recognition of cross-border training”.
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.