Argentina International Trade in Legal Services

Argentina International Trade in Legal Services


Is there legislation governing the legal sector Argentina is a federal country with 24 different jurisdictions. Each one of them has its own rules governing the legal profession. Law 23.187 on the Practice of the Legal Profession applies in the City of Buenos Aires, the jurisdiction with most lawyers in the whole country.
Under what title do lawyers practise?

Abogado/a -

How does an individual lawyer obtain a "licence" to practise law? How often must this be renewed?


In order to practise law in Argentina, applicants must earn a law degree (a Masters) from an accredited Argentine university (or validate a degree obtained from a foreign university) and register with the local Colegio de Abogados (Bar Association) of the legal district in which they intend to practise. No renewal is necessary.

Does this entitle the holder to practise throughout the country? If the law license only permits one to practice on a sub-national level, please explain the jurisdictional limits

Yes, although applicants must be registered with the local Bar Association to practise in that jurisdiction.


Are there certain activities that are "reserved" to those who are licensed to practise law in the jurisdiction?

Only lawyers registered with a Bar Association have rights of audience in court and can provide advice on the law of Argentina.


Do you need to hold local nationality to be eligible to practise law?


What legal forms can lawyers work in? (e.g. self employment, partnership, limited liability partnership, multi-disciplinary partnership, incorporation)

Article 10 of Law 23.187 (applicable in the City of Buenos Aires) forbids fee sharing with non lawyers ("without a qualification to practise"). Most other Argentine jurisdictions have similar rules. This effectively rules out multidisciplinary practice.  The law and other ethical rules are silent on legal forms so it is assumed that a law firm may take any form permitted to any other business provided it does not violate the fee sharing rule. However, some precedents have held that, to the extent certain types of corporate entities limit the liability of their members those structures are not suitable for lawyers, who must always remain unlimitedly liable vis-à-vis their clients.

What other ethical or regulatory requirements must a licensed lawyer comply with? 


A Code of Ethics.  Every local Bar association regulates and disciplines its members.  They adopt and enforce the ethical rules that govern the practice of law in a particular jurisdiction. See, for example, for Buenos Aires:

Do law firms need to receive a "license" (or permission/approval) to practice law?

There is no explicit law firm licensing regime but lawyers must ensure that they have kept the Bar informed of their latest practising address.


Which authority issues licences? Are there different authorities for individuals and firms? 

In order to practise lawyers must register with the local Colegio de Abogados (Bar Association) of the jurisdiction where they intend to practise.


Are there any explicit rules or restrictions other than visas on fly in fly out practice of law? Ie. Do you need to obtain a licence for temporary practice?

There is no requirement to register for activities permitted on a fly-in, fly out basis (see below on visas).


Can a foreign lawyer obtain a visa to visit clients or to market but not to practice?

Yes, lawyers may apply for a business visa (although visiting customers, marketing and business development activities  and speaking or participating at conferences are not likely to be considered business activities) or a professional visa (for giving technical advice).  Many countries are exempt from any visa requirements.

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a licence to establish and practise as a foreign legal consultant and what is the scope of this limited licence?

Foreign lawyers can practise in Argentina as consultants on foreign or international law, but will not be permitted to appear before the courts, file briefs or enjoy confidentiality privileges.  A foreign lawyer does not need any type of license to offer advisory services in foreign and international law. There is no category such as a foreign legal consultant.

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled once a foreign lawyer has been granted a limited licence (e.g. residency requirement)

There are no “limited licenses” in Argentina. A foreign lawyer must have his or her degree validated in Argentina, enrol with the relevant colegio and establish a legal domicile in Argentina. For example, to enrol with the Colegio de Abogados de la Capital Federal a foreign lawyer must 1) Establish permanent residence in the country; 2) Have his or her law degree recognized and legalized by the competent national authority; 3) Report his or her place of establishment in the Federal Capital; 4) Make a declaration that his or her occupation does not fall within the scope of those declared incompatible with the practise of the profession in Article 3 of Law 23,187. 5) Take a professional oath (Article 10 of the Rules of Procedure); 6) pay the fees established by the regulation.

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled for a foreign lawyer to qualify for a limited licence? (e.g. prior practice)

None specified



Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation? In international commercial arbitrations under the auspices of international institutions such ICC or LCIA, as long as there is no need to file legal briefs or appear in court,  there is no obstacle to a foreign lawyer serving as an advocate.
Are foreign lawyers allowed to appear in court under any circumstances? No, not without requalifying
Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers? Yes, foreign lawyers may requalify in Argentina by having their law degree recognised. Ease of recognition depends on the country of their first qualification.


Can a foreign law firm obtain a licence to open an office?

There is no explicit foreign law firm licensing regime which regulates these arrangements.

Even if a foreign law firm does not require a legal licence must they register in some form in order to set up an office? (e.g. with a ministry of company affairs etc)

No legal license is required for a foreign law firm to set up an office. However, to the extent activities that qualify as a business will be performed, they will have to be conducted under one of the types of business entities existing in Argentina (incorporated companies, partnerships and branches of foreign businesses) and will be regulated under the same rules that apply to a local or foreign business.

Are there different types of foreign law firm 'licence'  (e.g. Joint Law Venture, stand alone foreign licence etc) Not applicable
Is there a quota on the number of licences available? No
Are there geographical restrictions on foreign firm licences or on the number of branches a foreign firm can have? No
Are there "scope of practice" rules that apply directly to foreign law firms (as opposed to lawyers themselves)? (e.g. home, host, international law), if so, what are they?

Not beyond the requirements on individual foreign lawyers


Are there restrictions on the corporate form a foreign law firm can take? There are no additional requirements on law firms beyond those imposed on foreign companies in general.
Are there rules about the name a foreign law firm can take? No, but the firm will be unable to hold itself out as a “law firm” unless lawyers admitted in Argentina are part of it. As with all other types of business entities, the name must follow the guidelines set by the relevant Registry of Commerce
What entity grants a 'license' to a foreign law firm? If that entity is on the Internet, please provide the URL Not applicable


Are there restrictions on the ownership share of foreign lawyers in a law firm? Yes, to the extent the foreign lawyer is not qualified as such in Argentina, his or her ownership may be construed as an invalid “fee sharing agreement” not permitted under local regulations.
May a domestic lawyer be employed by a foreign lawyer or law firm? Yes
Can a domestic lawyer enter into partnership with a foreign lawyer? No. Although there are no formal restrictions on partnerships with Argentine lawyers, local bars may object to such partnerships on grounds that they constitute an invalid fee sharing agreement between lawyers and non-lawyers.
Can a domestic lawyer or domestic law firm employ a foreign lawyer? Yes


Other useful sources or comments or links

For links to professional and regulatory bodies:  

Colegio Publico de abogados de la Capital Federal (Bar of the Federal Capital - body admitting lawyers to practise in Buenos Aires):  

Colegio de Abogados de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires (City Bar of Buenos Aires - representative body for lawyers in Buenos Aires)

Federacion Argentina de Colegios de Abogados (Federation of Bars of Argentina)


Verified by

Negri Busso & Farina Abogados: (October 2013).