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Lithuania International Trade in Legal Services

Lithuania International Trade in Legal Services

HOME COUNTRY LICENSING QUESTIONS

Is there legislation governing the legal sector

Law on the Bar 18 March 2004 No IX-2066 published in Official Gazette 2004, No. 50-1632.

Under what title do lawyers practise?

 Advokatas  translated as “Advocate”.

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

 

 

To practise law in Lithuania, one needs to be recognised by the Bar Association. The list of requirements is laid down in Article 7 (1) of the Act; one needs to: 1) be a national of the Republic of Lithuania or of another EU Member State;  2) To hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree in law, or a lawyer’s professional qualification degree (one-cycle university education in law);3) To have a record of at least five years of service in the legal profession or have served an apprenticeship as an advocate's assistant for a period of at least two years. Service in the legal profession shall include activities specified in the list of legal professions approved by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania. The length of service in the legal profession shall be calculated from the moment a person has acquired a bachelor’s or master’s degree in law, or a lawyer’s professional qualification degree (one-cycle university education in law) and started practising law; 4) be of high moral character; 5) have proficiency in the state language; 6) have passed an advocate’s qualification examination; 7) have no health disorders that would prevent him from performing duties of an advocate. The health requirements and the procedure of health checks for applicants and advocates shall be established by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania. The procedure to be recognized by the Bar Association is set forth in Article 10 of the Act.

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

The licence to practice in Lithuania is national

 

 

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

Article 2, Section 1 (1) of the Act describes the role of Lithuanian advocates as follows:  “Legal services provided by advocates shall include legal consultations (legal advice), drafting of legal documents, representation on legal matters, defence and representation in legal proceedings when these actions are carried out for remuneration”. These services may be provided by advocates (advocate's assistants) or a professional partnership of advocates (2). Advocates must be entered on the List of Practising Advocates of Lithuania to practise as advocates (article 17 (1)).  In addition, Article 4 (4) mentions other activities that advocates may undertake: “[a]n advocate shall also be entitled in accordance with the procedure established by the laws to provide services for remuneration as an administrator of bankruptcy, restructuring, property or inheritance, a lobbyist, a liquidator, a curator, an executor of a will, a trustee of property, a patent trustee, as well as to act as an arbiter, a mediator, a conciliator or a legal expert in commercial disputes. An advocate may be a member of the managing or supervisory body of a legal person, but he cannot receive any remuneration, with the exception of bonuses...”

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

Article 7(1) mentions that nationality of the Republic of Lithuania or a Member State of the European Union is required. Under various treaty agreements this has been extended to include nationality of an EEA member State or Swiss confederation.

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

Following Article 21 of the Act, advocates may practise: 1) individually; 2) on the basis of partnership without establishing a legal person; 3) by establishing a legal person – a professional partnership of advocates. Advocates may only choose one form of practice and have the right to change the form of practice but must inform the Lithuanian Bar Association. Conditions for individual practice are found in Article 26 of the Act; rules on partnerships in Article 27; and rules on legal entities established for the practice of advocates in Article 28.

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

Code of Professional Conduct for Advocates of Lithuania

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

There is no mention of any requirement for law firm licences in the Act.

 

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

The Council of the Lithuanian Bar Association issues licenses to advocates (Article 60(4) of the Act).

   

INDIVIDUAL FOREIGN LAWYERS

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?

Article 63 of the Act mentions the possibility for lawyers from EEA member states or the Swiss confederation to practice temporarily in Lithuania. It reads: “1. Lawyers from Member States of the European Union bearing the professional title conferred by the competent authority in their home country which is included on the list approved by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania or an institution authorised by it shall have the right to provide services on a temporary basis in the Republic of Lithuania under Article 50 of the Treaty establishing the European Community in accordance with the provisions of this Chapter.” There is no mention of the same possibility for foreign lawyers from outside the EEA.

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

Lithuania 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?

Foreign lawyers may provide services in the law of their home country and in public international law. There is no mention of limited license in the Act.

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 Lithuanian bar, practise under his home title, comply with the Lithuanian code of conduct and must maintain adequate professional indemnity insurance. 

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

An EEA lawyer must hold EEA nationality and an EEA legal qualification.

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation? Article 4 (4) of the Act provides: “[a]n advocate shall also be entitled in accordance with the procedure established by the laws to provide services for remuneration as [...]an arbiter, a mediator, a conciliator or a legal expert in commercial disputes...” This provision is applicable to foreign lawyers established in Lithuania (EEA or Swiss nationality is required).
Are foreign lawyers allowed to appear in court under any circumstances?

European Union/EFTA and Swiss lawyers may all appear in court provided they do so in association with a local lawyer. Other nationals are not permitted to appear in court.

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?

 

 

Article 68 of the Law on the Bar provides for the possibility for a lawyer a Member State of the European Union (and by Treaty arrangements also EFTA and Switzerland) to obtain the Lithuanian professional title of advocate after a period of three years of professional practice. It states: “1. A lawyer from a Member State of the European Union practising under the professional title conferred by the competent authority of a Member State of the European Union who has regularly and effectively provided legal services on a permanent basis in the Republic of Lithuania for a period of three years in the national law of Lithuania, including Community law, shall have the right to apply for his recognition as a Lithuanian advocate and entry on the List of Practising Advocates of Lithuania in accordance with the procedure set forth in this Law...” The same provision mentions that “regular and effective provision of legal services on a permanent basis shall mean actual exercise of the professional activity without any interruption other than that resulting from the events of everyday life”.  If a European lawyer has less than three years experience in Lithuanian law, the Lithuanian bar shall verify the candidate's knowledge and professional experience of the national law of Lithuania through an aptitude test.

FOREIGN LAW FIRMS

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

Entry of non-EU firms is allowed only through partnership with local law firms. EU firms may open branches in Lithuania and operate multijurisdictional offices. Lawyers practicing EC or Member state law must be fully qualified to provide the services. The right for EU advocate to open an office is conferred by Article 65 (4) of the Act.

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)

Foreign law firms are only permitted in the form of partnerships with Lithuanian lawyers. There are various registration requirements with the Company registrar (depending on form of partnership), VAT and social security authorities.
Are there different types of foreign law firm 'licence'  (e.g. Joint Law Venture, stand alone foreign licence etc)

No

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? 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? EEA law firms are subject to the same rules on corporate form as local law firms.
Are there rules about the name a foreign law firm can take? Article 65 (2) of the Act mentions that “[a] lawyer from a Member State of the European Union providing legal services on a permanent basis in the Republic of Lithuania under the professional title conferred by the competent authority of the Member State of the European Union must express his professional title in the official language or one of the official languages of that Member State of the European Union, in an intelligible manner and in such a way as to avoid its confusion with the Lithuanian professional title of advocate. Such lawyers “must also indicate the professional (self-governing) organisation of which he is a member or the competent authority by which he is authorised to practise under the professional title of the Member State of the European Union”. Article 42 of the Act prohibits advertising for law firms.
What entity grants a 'license' to a foreign law firm? If that entity is on the Internet, please provide the URL Law firms from EEA jurisdictions must register with the Lithuanian Bar.
   

EMPLOYMENT AND PARTNERSHIP

Are there restrictions on the ownership share of foreign lawyers in a law firm?

Article 31(2) 2. Only advocates may be members of the managing body of a professional partnership of advocates. The managing body of a partnership must ensure the possibility for an advocate providing services to comply with the requirements set forth in the Code of Professional Conduct for Advocates of Lithuania.

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

There is no prohibition on employment of a Lithuanian lawyer by an EEA lawyer or law firm.

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

Yes, Article 125 of the Act mentions that: “The advocates of the European Union member states practicing in Latvia under profession name of their country of residence shall be entitled to form a joint practice under the same conditions as sworn advocates of Latvia”. 

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

There is no prohibition on this in the Act. However, EC nationality is required to provide legal services in Lithuania.

   

OTHER USEFUL LINKS/SOURCES

Other useful sources or comments or links

Lithuanian Bar     http://www.advoco.lt/