I. GENERAL INFORMATION
Belarus has a population of approximately 9.5 million and 1991 lawyers (in 2016).
According to the Belarusian legislation, only advocates are entitled to provide professional legal assistance. Other legal degree holders are not permitted to be defenders or representatives in criminal, civil and administrative proceedings.
Initial training of lawyers: Law degree. Traineeship of 3-6 months (for those with work experience in the legal field of at least 3 years) or 6-12 months (for those with less than 3 years of work experience) followed by the qualification exam.
The activity of an advocate in Belarus is licensed. Licenses are issued by the Ministry of Justice upon the decision of the Ministry Board on the advice of the Qualification Commission.
Continuous training: The issue of further continuous training of advocates is administered by the National Bar Association, which organises qualification upgrade courses.
The Ministry of Justice has the power to regulate the legal profession. In practice, the Ministry of Justice does not interfere with the activities of advocates except for licensing issues.
The Law determines the establishment and the competence of a separate body, which considers the advocates’ disciplinary liability issues: the Disciplinary Commission. The Disciplinary Commission is created by the supreme body of advocates’ self-management and is in charge of disciplinary proceedings.
IV. LEGAL AID
Free legal aid is provided on the basis of Art. 28 of the Law “On Advocacy and Advocatory Activities” and is funded by bar associations as well as from the budgets of the republican and (or) local authorities.
V. CURRENT CONCERNS OF THE BAR
Current concerns of the Bar and main challenges in the coming years: the status of a lawyer, legal aid and independence of the legal profession
Independence: One of the most fundamental issues in the work of an advocate is the regulation of relations between the profession and the state. An advocate needs to be independent so he or she can provide effective assistance.
An advocate, who feels the pressure, cannot provide adequate legal advice. For that reason, the question of the quality of work arises. If an advocate is not independent or is afraid to speak openly, the protection will be of poor quality.
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