The position is very similar to that of Sweden. The legal profession is unified - no distinction is drawn between lawyers undertaking different areas of work. All practising members of the "official" legal profession are known as advocates (in Swedish advokater), in Finnish this translates as asianajaja (singular) and asianajajat (plural) and they are subject to statutory regulation, under the Finnish Bar Association (F.B.A.) (Suomen Asianajajaliitto (Finnish) or Finlands Advokatförbund (Swedish)). Under the Advocates Act 1958 the professional title is protected and the FBA is empowered to supervise activities of asianajajat/advokater . Only members of Finnish Bar Association can use the title.

However it is not necessary to be member of the F.B.A. to carry on legal practice in Finland. Membership merely shows public that the lawyer meets high standards. Those who have passed the law degree are entitled (as are others) to give legal advice.

All professional lawyers (asianajajat) are in private practice. Lawyers employed "in house" cannot be advocates as such employment is considered as contravening doctrine of independence of advokater/asianajajat . Lawyers can practice in partnership or, since April 1992 in a limited company (following the Danish model: i.e. with unlimited responsibility to the client).

There are roughly 12,500 lawyers in Finland. 32% of professional lawyers are employed by the Government; 17% employed by Courts of Justice; 9% working in municipal administration; 23% in commerce; 11% are advocates (i.e. asianajajat); 4% in various organisations; 3% tutoring; 1% other occupations.

The intending lawyer will have to complete a law degree and follow a professional training.

Dr Julian Lonbay
Copyright © 1995-2001 J Lonbay. All rights reserved.
Revised: 2000.
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