The legal profession has a long and venerable history in Spain dating from at least 1495 with the Ordenanzas de Abogados promulgated by los Reyes Catolicos en Medina del Campo. It is not appropriate to recite all the changes since that date, suffice it to say that the profession is organised into Ilustres Colegios de Abogados. There are 82 Colleges of Lawyers. Only 5 of these, apart from Madrid, have over 1,000 resident lawyers. In Madrid on 30th January 1989, 15,757 lawyers were listed as `exercising', a further 9,193 were inscribed as non-exercising (colegiados no ejercientes) on the same date.
The legal profession of abogado is a free and independent profession. In Spain parties in legal actions are commonly required to take on two legal professionals, one for the defence and one for the representation of the parties before the courts. Representation is carried out by Procuradores . It is impossible to be an advocate (abogado) and procurador at the same time. Advocates are permitted to have common offices (despachos colectivos) of up to 20 members, subject to registration with the local colegio. Advocates can be employed.
No one can exercise the profession of advocate (Abogado) without
previously being inscribed in a College of Advocates (Colegio de Abogados
). Before taking up pursuit of the profession an oath (or promise) to
observe the constitution and juridical order must be taken. Once inscribed
on the roll (lista de colegiados) the new advocate is immediately
vested with all the rights and duties of a full member of the profession.