Conditions for obtaining the legal profession

Conditions of access
The conditions of access to the profession of lawyer are set out in article 11 of the law of 31 December 1971 .

To become a lawyer, one must first meet the conditions relating to nationality. You must therefore be :
– either French ;
– a member state of the European Communities or a party to the European Economic Area agreement
– or a national of a State or territorial unit that does not belong to the European Communities or the European Economic Area, but which grants French nationals the right to practice the professional activity that the person concerned proposes to practice in France under the same conditions;
– or have the status of refugee or stateless person recognized by the French office for the protection of refugees and stateless persons.

Conditions of good character are also imposed, i.e:
– Not to have been the author of acts that have given rise to a criminal conviction for acts contrary to honor, probity or good morals;
– Not to have been the author of acts of the same nature having given rise to a disciplinary or administrative sanction of dismissal, striking off, revocation, withdrawal of approval or authorization;
– Not to have been subject to personal bankruptcy or any other sanction pursuant to Title VI of Law No. 85-98 of January 25, 1985 on the reorganization and judicial liquidation of companies or, in the system prior to this law, pursuant to Title II of Law No. 67-563 of July 13, 1967 on judicial settlement, liquidation of assets, personal bankruptcy and bankruptcies

Then there are the training conditions.

Initial training
Initially, it is necessary to hold at least a Master 1 in law, or titles or diplomas recognized as equivalent for the practice of the profession by joint order of the Minister of Justice and the Minister in charge of universities . In reality, however, it is preferable to continue to the Master 2 level. It guarantees a solid legal knowledge to attack the rest of the training, and is also mostly required by law firms when recruiting interns.

The student must then enter a regional center for professional training of lawyers (CRFPA) – of which there are 12 in France . The candidate is admitted following an entrance exam (recently reformed to become a single national exam), after a one-year preparation in an institute of judicial studies (IEJ). It should be noted that while registration at the IEJ is mandatory (the latter organizes the exam), the preparation is optional. It can also be completed by taking courses in private preparatory schools.
Please note that the exam can only be attempted 3 times.

The training lasts 18 months, and is divided into three parts: six months of theoretical courses, six months of individual educational project, and six months of internship in a law firm, with the writing of a thesis. The student lawyer then validates it with a final exam, to obtain the certificate of aptitude for the legal profession (CAPA) . They can then take the oath and register with a bar association to practice.

Professional path
Do you work in another legal profession and wish to become a lawyer? Special conditions of admission and exemption are allowed. In this case, two categories must be distinguished.

Here is a summary presentation by Kristina Lazatian, Legal design project manager at Sagan avocats.
– For those professions exempted from the diploma requirement [5], from the theoretical and practical training, and from the CAPA, according to article 97 of the decree of November 27, 1991 [6] (left column), they only need to file an application for admission to the bar council of the bar they have chosen, which will investigate before authorizing the taking of the oath and the registration on the roll.

– For those who are only exempted from training and obtaining the CAPA, which are listed in article 98 of the same decree (right-hand column), before being able to file an application for admission with a bar council, candidates must nevertheless pass an examination to test their knowledge of professional ethics and regulations, the program and procedures of which are set by order of the Minister of Justice. This exam can only be taken three times (article 98-1 of the decree).

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