Finland International Trade in Legal Services

Finland International Trade in Legal Services


Is there legislation governing the legal sector

Advocates act (laki asianajajista) 12 December 1958

Under what title do lawyers practise?

 Advokat or asianajaja

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



Only members of the Bar Association are entitled to use the professional titles of ‘asianajaja’ or ‘advokat’.  Membership of the Bar Association requires the candidate: 1) To be more than 25 years old; 2) To have Finnish or EU nationality; 3) To have completed a Master of Laws degree (LL.M.), which entitles the holder to take up judicial office; 4) To be known as a person of integrity; 5) To have four years' experience in the legal profession and other judicial activities; 6)  To pass an examination; 7) to be independent from government and any other influences apart from his or her client 8) Not to be bankrupt and to have full civil capacity.

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


There is a single national licence to practise in Finland.




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

Legal practice is unreserved. Only the use of the titles of "asianajaja"  and "advokat" are reserved.

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

There is no nationality requirement on the giving of legal advice in Finland and the law has recently changed to allow lawyers of any nationality to become members of the Bar Association.

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

Lawyers may practise as sole practitioners, in partnerships or in limited companies. According to the Advocates Act, the practise of legal profession in a company is not allowed, except with another lawyer, unless the Board of the Association grants a permit based upon specific grounds. A decision in principle has been made according to which the Board may not grant such a permit; hence MDPs are not allowed.  Lawyers bear unlimited liability, even when practising in a corporate structure.

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

Finnish Bar Association rules 29.10.2004/934 updated by 10.6.2010/487

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

New law firms must be registered and subject to inspection to ensure compliance with issues such as audit and accounting requirements, confidentiality and security arrangements, client resource management, and liability insurance. Each year a proportion of Finnish firms are subject to inspections by the Finnish Bar.

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

The Finnish Bar Association: http://www.asianajajat.fi/english



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?

As there is no monopoly on legal services other than membership of the Finnish Bar and the use of the title 'advocate', there are no additional requirements on fly in fly out practice.

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

Finland is one of the 25 countries in Europe that has signed the Schengen agreement. This allows a non-EEA national to obtain a visa to enter one or more of the Schengen countries for business or tourism purposes on a single visit of up to 90 days, or to make multiple entries to the Schengen area on any number of occasions over a 180 day period, provided none of these is for longer than 90 days.  A number of non-EEA countries are exempt from 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?

There are no restrictions on foreign lawyers practising law in Finland on a temporary basis.

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

An EEA lawyer must register with the Bar, use his or her home professional title when practising, comply with the Finnish Bar code of conduct and maintain adequate professional indemnity insurance. There are no rules applying to lawyers from other countries.

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

Not for non-EEA lawyers. An EEA lawyer must hold EEA nationality and an EEA legal qualification.

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation? Yes
Are foreign lawyers allowed to appear in court under any circumstances?

European Union/EFTA and Swiss lawyers may all appear in court and do not need to do so in association with a local lawyer. Lawyers from other jurisdictions may not appear in court.

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?



European lawyers who wish to requalify as Finnish lawyers may requalify under article 10 of Directive 98/5/EC but must have been established as a Registered European Lawyer in Finland for a minimum of three years.  Alternatively, lawyers from other EU and EFTA Member States or from Switzerland without three years' experience and residency in Finland may sit an aptitude test.


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


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)

Any foreign business establishing in Finland would need to submit a single start-up notification form to the NBPR (National Board of Patents and Registration) and the Tax Administration.
Are there different types of foreign law firm 'licence'  (e.g. Joint Law Venture, stand alone foreign licence etc)


Is there a quota on the number of licences available?


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


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? There are no scope of practice rules that apply to firms as opposed to individual lawyers.
Are there restrictions on the corporate form a foreign law firm can take?

No - although if foreign law firms wished to enter partnership with Finnish advocates they would be prohibited from taking the forms disallowed to advocates.

Are there rules about the name a foreign law firm can take? No
What entity grants a 'license' to a foreign law firm? If that entity is on the Internet, please provide the URL EEA law firms must register with the Finnish Bar. Law firms from other countries do not need to register


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?

Finnish advocates may form partnerships with EEA lawyers.

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

Yes but only under their home title.



Other useful sources or comments or links

Suomen Asianajajaliitto (Finnish Bar Association): http://www.asianajajaliitto.fi/

Invest in Finland: http://www.investinfinland.fi/services/setting-up-a-business/36    

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The Finnish Bar Association (December 2013)