The Conseil national des barreaux, a public interest body as well as a legal entity, is the national institution that represents all practicing lawyers in France, with all lawyers also being registered in one of 161 local bars. The law assigned it some very specific mandates, and its functioning is governed by legal provisions and decrees, backed by internal rules.
Mandate to Represent the Profession
- It has the privilege of being the profession's liaison with public authorities, and addresses proposals to them on any changes that it believes to be useful or necessary.
- It contributes to the preparation of written materials that could be relevant to the legal profession and the conditions under which it is practiced.
- In addition, it plays a role in all matters related to the judicial system and legal texts on which the legal profession decides to give its opinion.
- It represents the profession to its foreign counterparts and within international organizations.
- It follows the development and adoption of international texts, such as WTO documents and proposals for EC directives, that may be relevant to the legal profession.
Other Very Specific Legal Mandates
In addition to its function of representing the profession, the law gave the Conseil national des barreaux some very specific mandates. Established by the Act of December 31, 1990 which amended Article 21-1 of the Act of December 31, 1971; in particular, it is entitled to:
- Standardize the rules and practices of the legal profession
- Provide professional training to lawyers
- Provide a structure for access to the French bar by foreign lawyers
Standardize the rules and practices of the profession
It is this organization that standardizes the rules and practices of the profession.
As regards current legal and regulatory provisions, this standardization is done by normative decisions published in the Official Journal, which apply directly to lawyers.
This was the context for the creation of the National Internal Regulations (RIN) which standardize:
- the principles of the profession, such as respect for the client, conflicts of interest, confidentiality, secrecy, etc.
- activities, such as fields of activity, advertising, etc.
- practice, such as group practices, salaries, structures, and networks
- interprofessional cooperation
- relationships among lawyers who belong to different bars, etc.
The Conseil National is charged with organizing initial and continuing legal education.
- It defines the organizational principles for legal professional education and standardizes its programs
- It specifies the details on how continuing education is carried out
- It coordinates the various professional training activities of the regional centers; it makes suggestions for the headquarters and district for each regional professional training center, and, after consulting with them, promotes the consolidation of some centers
- It determines the general conditions for obtaining specialization credentials, and draws up a proposed list of them
- It establishes the amount of the contributions for financing professional training pursuant to Article 14-1 of the Act of December 31, 1971, above; it collects them, and distributes them to the regional professional training centers; it receives and distributes the contributions from the State
Admission of Foreign Lawyers
The Conseil National rules on applications from foreign lawyers from inside or outside the European Community who wish to join the French bar pursuant to Articles 99 and 100 of the Decree of November 27, 1991.
- It draws up a list of lawyers from foreign bars who are qualified to register in a French bar
- The Foreign Lawyers Admission Committee considers these applications
Other Mandates to Promote the Profession and Provide Information to Lawyers
The Conseil national has a mandate to use any and all methods to promote the legal profession and its image and to develop institutional communication.
It also develops tools and services to help bars and lawyers :
- It studies, implements, and directly or indirectly develops computer applications for the benefit of the profession, primarily within the Private Virtual Network for Attorneys (RPVA), and it supports lawyers in using new technologies and integrating them into their professional practices.
- It prepares notices and recommendations for bars and/or lawyers on the subject of professional ethics, professional practice, or its practical applications.
- It edits publications for lawyers on ways of working, or even managing a law office and the day-to-day operations of the occupation.
- It produces documents, periodicals, and practical tools to be used as models.
- It organizes special occasions and events on subjects of relevance to the profession