The Report ‘Comparative Analysis of Bar Associations and Law Societies in Select European Jurisdictions’, completed by a World Bank team in coordination with experts, amongst which also the CCBE, is published on the website of the Multi Donor Trust Fund for Justice Sector Support. The report looks at 10 distinct countries’ Bars and Law Societies and analyses their role, structure and responsibilities. It aims to provide comparative information for justice reform activities. The covered national jurisdictions are: Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, England and Wales, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Serbia and Spain.
Lithuania has a population of 3 million, and has 2130 lawyers (as of February 2016). The Lithuanian Bar Association was set up in 1918, and has been a full member of CCBE since 2004.
Key information about the profession
Initial training of lawyers: Master’s degree in law, or a lawyer’s professional qualification degree (one-cycle university education in law).
The period of an apprenticeship as an advocate’s assistant is two years. Upon completion of the apprenticeship, a candidate can take the bar exam. Alternatively, they can continue their apprenticeship as an advocate’s assistant, until he/she takes a decision to take the bar exam.
Continuous training: Continuous training is mandatory and is organised by the Lithuanian Bar Association. There are also possibilities of continuous training outside the framework established by the Lithuanian Bar Association. Failure to undergo continuous training may lead to a disciplinary action against an advocate.
Specialisation: Advocates have a right to choose a field of law in which they would provide legal services.
Discipline: the Disciplinary Committee conducts an initial investigation of disciplinary violations. The conclusions drawn by the Committee are submitted to the Bar Council. On the basis of its conclusions, the Bar Council decides if the disciplinary proceedings shall be initiated. Disciplinary actions against advocates are heard by the Court of Honour of Advocates which consists of five members accomplished with at least ten years of experience as an advocate.
State legal aid: state-guaranteed legal aid is financed from the state budget. Legal aid is available on all legal issues and is organised by state-guaranteed legal aid services.
Current concerns of the Bar
The national legal system: latest changes of the Law on the Bar
One amendment was adopted and came into the force on the 17th of January 2016 – the Bar Council has been assigned a new function – the recognition of advocate’s assistants practice under the Law on the Recognition of Regulated Professional Qualifications (article 60).
Laws / decisions related to the Bar
The new Law on Conciliatory Mediation in Civil Disputes was drafted and discussed by the Government. Due to the efforts of the Lithuanian Bar Association, the Government has adopted the draft on Law on Conciliatory Mediation in Civil Disputes with the provision prescribing that advocates (who practice as an advocate for period longer than 5 years) have no obligation to pass a mediator exam. This draft legislation will be discussed in the committees of the Parliament.
The draft law on the Common Qualification Exam for judges, prosecutors, notaries, and advocates is currently under consideration in the Committee of the Legal Affairs of the Parliament. The Lithuanian Bar Association is of the opinion that a special exam for advocates should be organised by the Lithuanian Bar.
Protection of clients’ rights
According to the article 51 of the Law on the Bar, the Lithuanian Bar Association is a pre-trial authority in the disputes arising between clients and advocates on standard unfair contractual terms of the contract for legal services. On the 29th of December 2015, the Bar Council adopted the “Work Regulations of the Commission of the standard unfair contractual terms of the contract for legal services”, and nominated the members of this Commission.
In addition, there are positive developments in the areas of state-guaranteed legal aid, representation by advocates in courts and social security for lawyers.
For a more detailed information, please read the full PECO country profile of Lithuania.