Number of Members: 1,500
Annual Cost: Partner FIM 5 500; Assistant FIM 2 750
Membership Is: Compulsory for advocates. In-house lawyers cannot become members.
The Finnish Bar Association is an organization pertaining to public law, which is regulated by the The Act on Advocates of 1958. The organization was preceded by a registered association with the same name. All members of both organizations are and always have been lawyers.
The Bar Association has about 1 500 members, who are thus designated "advocates" in Finnish: asianajaja; in Swedish: advokat. Law firms additionally employ about 300 associates. Of the advocates, about 80 are municipal public legal advisers. Legal aid offices also employ about 200 legal advisers who are not members of the Bar Association.
In Finland practically anybody can advise on and assist in legal matters, also professionally. However, there are very few such advisers who have not taken a Master of Laws degree.
Practising lawyers who are not members of the Bar Association may perhaps not meet the requirements for an advocate, or may prefer not to submit to the obligations of an advocate. Lawyers who have recently graduated from university, for instance, or lawyers who have just started practising or transferred from other fields of law, do not fulfil the requirements, neither do part-time lawyers. A lawyer who has been dismissed from the Bar Association owing to disciplinary measures can still pursue his profession under other professional title; in this case, however, such a lawyer practises without the obligations of an advocate and outside the supervision of the Bar Association.
Central activities of the Bar Association and its organization
The aims of the Bar Association are
- to maintain and enhance the responsibility and professional skills of advocates and to develop the activities of the legal profession,
- to promote solidarity among advocates and their mutual professional interests, and
- to supervise the professional activities of advocates.
These aims are stipulated in the articles of the Bar Association, which the Ministry of Justice has confirmed by a separate decision. The highest decision-making body of the Bar Association is the delegation, the representatives of which are elected by the local Chapters of the Association in relation to the number of their members. A board consists of a chairman, deputy chairman and seven other members from different parts of the country and representing both linguistic groups. The Disciplinary Board, which deals with the more important matters concerning the supervision of advocates, consists of a chairman and eight members. Two of these members are elected from outside the advocate profession; before their election, the Ministry of Justice will issue an opinion on their suitability. The Board appoints a number of committees to assist it.
The Bar Association has an autonomous position in relation to the government. Decisions in issues regarding membership, matters concerning professional supervision of advocates, and arbitration awards regarding disputes on fees, are taken as judges decide in litigations.
Practising lawyer 4 years of which 2 years in lawyers' office.
Continuing Legal Education Requirements
CLE 3 days per year.
Code of Ethics
Professional legal ethics consist of several ordinances, specific combinations of instructions and legal practice. Disciplinary proceedings relating to the professional supervision of advocates are of importance in this respect also. The basic requirements established for an advocate by the rules of professional ethics are honesty, professional secrecy regarding confidential information of the client, and the preservation of his confidence more generally. An advocate must try to achieve a solution which is most favourable for his client. Regarding these requirements, such a solution is often a reconciliation. The rules governing good professional conduct support efforts to achieve an amicable settlement in various ways.
Grounds for Fees
An advocate's fee for each mandate is determined by the amount and quality of the work required. The degree of difficulty of the mandate and the interest involved are also relevant. Disadvantaged citizens may be granted legal aid, whereby the expenses are covered from public funds. Several insurances include a legal expenses insurance, which may cover the expenses of a legal dispute exceeding the excess of the insured.
Disputes Concerning Fees
A binding decision in a dispute regarding an advocate's fee can be issued by a court of law or, should the client so desire, an arbitrational tribune. The institution of arbitrational proceedings will take place before the Board of the Bar Association. The arbitrational tribune consists of members or substitutes of the Board of the Bar Association, or of members of the Boards of local Chapters of the Bar. Disputes can also be taken up by a consumer complaint board, which, however, issues only recommendations.
See Disciplinary Measures, Section 45-51 at www.asianajajat.fi/Rules.htm.
Practice by Foreign Lawyers
Only Permitted by European Union members.
Lawyers Days in January.
Journal or Newsletter
Defensor Legis, 6 volumes per year.
Contact: Anneli Lindstrom at address above.
Advokaatti, 8 volumes per year.
Contact: Raija Lahtinen at address above or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.