Poland International Trade in Legal Services

Poland International Trade in Legal Services


Is there legislation governing the legal sector

The Law on Advocates (ustawa z dnia 26 maja 1982 r. – Prawo o adwokaturze;  Act of Parliament on Legal Advisers (ustawa z dnia 6 lipca 1982 r. o radcach prawnych)

Under what title do lawyers practise?

Adwokat  (advocate)  and Radca Prawny (legal adviser)

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




In order to obtain a licence to practise in Poland, an individual must have: 1) Completed higher legal studies in the Polish Republic and received a master's degree or foreign law degree recognised in the Polish Republic, 2) passed the bar examination set either by the Polish Bar Council or National Chamber of Legal Advisors. There are several ways to gain admission to the bar, including: three years of training followed by the bar exam; five years of legal professional experience followed by the bar exam; a Ph.D. in law followed by either the bar exam or 3 years of legal professional experience; or possession of high academic qualifications in legal sciences.

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 practise in Poland is national


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

Advocates have the exclusive right of audience in court on criminal matters and tax crime. Advocates and Legal Advisers share the reserved rights to provide legal advice to businesses, agencies and individuals, prepare legal opinions, draft legislation and represent clients in court for non-criminal matters.

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)









An advocate can practice his/her profession in an advocates’ office [kancelaria], Bar Association [zespól adwokacki] or through a registered partnership [spólka jawna], civil law partnership [spólka cywilna], professional partnership [spólka partnerska] or limited partnership [spólka komandytowa] with the exclusive participation of advocates or advocates and legal advisers [radca prawny] including as general partners in a limited partnership [spólka komandytowa], and as well as foreign lawyers with a permanent practice pursuant to the law dated 5 July 2002 on the provision of legal assistance by foreign lawyers in the
Republic of Poland (Journal of Laws no.126 item 1069). The sole object of the partnership's activities must be the provision of legal services. Legal advisers may work as sole practitioners or in law firms.  A legal adviser may exercise his or her profession within the framework of an employment contract, on the basis of a civil law agreement, in a legal counsel’s office as well as in a private, general or limited partnership, while only legal counsels and attorneys at law and foreign lawyers performing regular practice pursuant to the Act dated 5 July 2002 on the Provision of Legal Assistance by Foreign Lawyers in the Republic of Poland (Journal of Laws No 126 item 1069) may be partners in a private, general or limited partnership or general partners in a limited partnership, and the sole area of activity of such partnerships shall be limited to providing legal assistance.

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

Legal Advisers must comply with the Code of Conduct set out by the National Council of Legal Advisers, whilst advocates must adhere to the Code of Ethics for Advocates drawn up by the Polish Bar Council.

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

Law firms do not require separate licences to operate but advocates and legal advisers must register their practising address with their local bar.

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

The Polish Bar Council issues licences to advocates and the National Council of Legal Advisers licenses legal advisers



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?

EEA lawyers may practise temporarily as a result of the Lawyers Services Directive (77/249/EEC). Under Article 42 and subject to reciprocity, unless the international agreements ratified by the Republic of Poland or the provisions of the international organisations the Republic of Poland is a member thereto provide otherwise, a lawyer from outside the European Union shall be entitled to provide cross-border services that consist exclusively of a representation in civil proceedings of a party being a national of or belonging to a state, in which the lawyer is authorised to practise the profession.

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

Poland 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.Work permits are issued exclusively for the definite period - up to one year, with a possibility of extension - to a given foreigner working at a specified employer. Market test requirement. No restrictions on business visits, up to three months, related to negotiating or concluding transactions if it does not involve direct provision of services.

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 practise under their home country title in their home country law or international law. EEA lawyers may additionally practise Polish law in association with Polish lawyers.

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

All foreign lawyers must register with the Polish Bar or Legal Advisers, practise under his home title, comply with the Advocates' 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? Poland's law on arbitration is modelled on UNCITRAL. Foreign arbitrators are permitted to practise freely.

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 may only appear in court in limited circumstances.

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?

EU lawyers  may fully requalify as Polish lawyers following the European Establishment Directive 98/5/EC, either by examination or by assimilation over a three year period of continuous and effective practice in Poland.


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

There is no law firm licensing regime for foreign law firms however all foreign law firms, whether from the EEA or not, must register with the local bar.

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 must either be established as general or limited liability partnerships.
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? EEA law firms are subject to the same rules on corporate form as local law firms. Foreign law firms must either take the form of general or limited liability partnerships.
Are there rules about the name a foreign law firm can take? The Establishment Directive (98/5/EC) makes it clear that EU law firms may use the name of their law firm they use in their home country. The host Member State may require that, in addition mention is made of the legal form of the grouping in the home Member State and/or of the names of any members of the grouping practising in the host Member State.
What entity grants a 'license' to a foreign law firm? If that entity is on the Internet, please provide the URL Law firms from the EEA must register with the Polish Bar or Council of Legal Advisers.


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

There are no restrictions on the ownership share of EEA lawyers in a Polish law firm. Foreign law firms may be 100% owned by foreign lawyers.

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

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

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

A Polish lawyer may enter a partnership with a foreign lawyer

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



Naczelna Rada Adwokacka - The Polish Bar Council

Krajowa Rada Radców Prawnych - National Council of Legal Advisors