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Chile International Trade in Legal Services

Chile International Trade in Legal Services


Is there legislation governing the legal sector

In Chile the Constitution, “El Código Orgánico de Tribunales” (the organic code) and the “El Código Penal” (the criminal code of Chile) serve as the baseline for all attorneys.  The old “Colegios Profesionales” (Professional Associations) that acted as the sole ethical regulators of professions under the 1925 Constitution, became “Asociaciones Gremiales” (Trade Associations) that people could join on a voluntary basis following the provisions of the 1980 Political Constitution.

Under what title do lawyers practise?

 Abogado/a - may be translated as attorney or lawyer.

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



The Corte Suprema/Supreme Court is charged with granting licences to practice law in Chile.  Obtaining a license to practice requires that a candidate has graduated from a Chilean university with a degree of Bachelor of Law, is no less than twenty years of age, has no criminal record or pending criminal prosecutions, can present evidence of good moral character, is a Chilean national or has permanent residence and has completed a period (6 months) of internship in a Corporación de Asistencia Judicial, which is a government pro bono entity, doing pro bono legal work.  There is no ongoing education requirements for an attorney to maintain their licence, in fact a 'licence' is only required for Chilean lawyers who wish to appear in court, many do not.

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


No limits on practice within the country.  There are regional Bar Associations but they do not have regulatory powers.




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

Only lawyers with a licence to practice law in Chile have rights of audience in court and can provide advice on the law of Chile.

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

The nationality requirement was removed in 2007.

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

There are no limitations on the legal form for law firms in Chile, many are incorporated companies.

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

Chilean lawyers are guided for the ethical conduct by the ethical code and the criminal code (El Código Penal)
The ethical code, in section 1, regulates the lawyer-client relationship and, in section 2, regulates the conflict of roles/functions and the conflicts of interests.

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

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

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

The Corte Suprema/Supreme Court is charged with granting licenses to practice law in Chile.



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.

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

Yes, lawyers can apply for a business visa.

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?

A foreign lawyer does not need to obtain a limited license entitling him/her to offer advisory services in foreign and international law (i.e.. become 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 additional requirements

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


Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation? Yes, the parties may be represented or advised during the arbitration/mediation procedure by persons of their choice, without any restriction on nationality or professional title.
Are foreign lawyers allowed to appear in court under any circumstances?

Only lawyers licensed by the Supreme Court as a Chilean abogado can appear in court and provide advice on Chilean law

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?



Yes.Foreigners who have not studied in Chile can qualify as lawyers before the Universidad de Chile or the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), if an agreement exists between Chile and the country where the candidate has obtained his/her degree:
I. In those cases where a convention has been signed, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has competence. The candidate must fill in a form to which he/she has to attach his/her a) diploma, b) grades, c) evidence of the existence of the University that awarded the degree; d) a proof of citizenship, as the candidate has to be national of Chile or of the other signatory country. This is the case of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuadorr, Spain, Peru, Uruguay; and those countries which signed the Mexico City Convention in 1902, which are Bolivia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Peru.
II. When no convention has been signed, the University of Chile will certify the equivalence between the diploma awarded by a foreign university, and the diploma awarded by local universities; and it will examine the candidate’s aptitude to obtain the title, according to their studies.
In both cases, the Supreme Court will grant the qualification if the candidate fulfils the legal requirements to practise law in Chile.


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

Foreign firms are permitted to establish a commercial presence (a permanent office) to offer advisory services in foreign and international law.

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)

The process is the same as for local businesses and will depend on the form the business takes (Joint venture/limited liability partnership/branch etc.).
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?

Not applicable

Are there geographical restrictions on foreign firm licences or on the number of branches a foreign firm can have?

Not applicable

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? There are no additional limitations on names for foreign law firms beyond those imposed on companies in general.
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?


May a domestic lawyer be employed by a foreign lawyer or law firm?


Can a domestic lawyer enter into partnership with a foreign lawyer?


Can a domestic lawyer or domestic law firm employ a foreign lawyer?




Other useful sources or comments or links



For links to licensing and representative bodies: Supreme Court (registration authority for lawyers): http://www.poderjudicial.cl/index.php

Chilean Bar Association (voluntary representative Bar Assocaition): http://www.colegiodeabogados.cl/

Verified by

Alessandri Attorneys at Law:  http://www.alessandri.cl (January 2014)