In Belgium to bear the title of "avocet" ("advocaat" in the Dutch-speaking part of the country and "Rechtsanwalt" in the German-speaking part), one has, among other requirements, to be enrolled at one of the Bars. All Belgian Bars together constitute the Belgian Bar Association.
In Belgium there are 28 Bars and 29 Orders of Advocates. There is an Order in the chieftown of each "arrondissement". The Order comprises all "avocats/advocaten/Rechtsanwalts" who have office in the arrondissement and all trainees there. Brussels has however an Order of French-speaking "avocets" at its Bar and a separate Order of Dutch-speaking "advocaten".
Article 488 of the Judicial Code provides that all the Belgian Bars together constitute the "Ordre national des avocets de Belgique/Belgische Nationale Orde van Advocaten" (Belgian Bar Association).
In total there are about 12,000 avocats/advocaten in Belgium.
The annual cost of membership for each Bar depends on the number of "avocats/advocaten" enrolled at the Bar.
The legal tasks of the Belgian Bar Association were defined by the legislator; article 493 of the Judicial Code provides that the General Council of the Belgian Bar Association is the only one competent to see to and to safeguard the integrity, the rights and common professional interest of the "avocats/advocaten". It formulates proposals on these matters and sends them to the minister of Justice.
The General Council also has a unifying role as regards the rules and customs of the profession through the links which it creates between the members of the various Bars. It adopts regulations for this purpose. The General Council ensures the running of the Belgian Bar Association (Article 494 of the Judicial Code).
Access to the legal profession is regulated. After completing 5 years of university studies, the graduate in law must take the oath of lawyer before one of Belgium's Court of Appeal before admission to a Bar.
An older and more experienced colleague then initiates the young lawyer into professional practice for three years.
During this period of training, the newly sworn-in lawyer must take a series of courses oriented towards practical experience in the profession. This specific training, called CAPA, culminates with examinations.
The directive on a general system for the recognition of higher education diplomas as well as the A.R. of 2 May 1996 also make it possible for lawyers coming from a European Union member state to practice in Belgium providing a qualifying examination organised by the Belgian Bar Association.
The Belgian Bar Association organises a National Conference every 2 years. This year it will be help in Brussels on 20 March 1998 and will be devoted to "Access to Justice".
Journal or Newsletter
The Belgian Bar Association publishes 4 times a year a Newsletter, in Dutch and French, entitled Communications/Mededelingen. It is freely sent to each advocaat/avocat.