Membership, professional training and ethics

An attorney-at law can be anyone who has completed the Master of Laws degree in Poland or an equivalent foreign law degree recognised in Poland. Such a person must enjoy full public rights, he or she should have full capacity to act, be of impeccable character and have completed his or her legal training with an exam in Poland. Some professionals may gain entry into the bar without the need for a legal training and an examination or they can gain entry after passing an examination for attorneys-at-law but without undertaking the legal training.

Bar training

Once admitted to the bar, the candidate becomes a trainee attorney-at-law who has to undergo a training. An examination for the admission to the training is a written test conducted by the Ministry of Justice. The examination covers subjects such as criminal law and criminal procedure, infraction law and infraction court proceedings, financial criminal law and financial criminal proceedings, civil law and civil procedure, family law, public business law, commercial companies and partnerships law, labour law and social security regulations, administrative law and administrative procedure, European Union law, constitutional law.

Bar training lasts three years and consists of theoretical and practical classes. Each trainee has his or her individual tutor, who must be a practitioner from the bar. Bar examination at the end of the training, organized by the State, consists of five written parts (criminal law, civil law, commercial law, administrative law and professional practice/ ethics). The training is run by the Regional Bar Associations.

Foreign lawyers

Foreign lawyers from the European Union Member States may provide permanent legal assistance to the same extent and in the same way as Polish attorneys-at-law, subject to their entry onto the list of foreign lawyers run by each of the Regional Bar Association.

Ethical conduct

Attorneys-at-law are obliged to respect the rules of professional conduct adopted by the National Convention of Attorneys-at-law and protecting the core values of the profession, such as independence, protection of professional secrecy, avoidance of conflicts of interest, protection of the dignity of the profession in professional, public and private life, as well as loyalty to clients. The Code of Ethics of attorneys-at-law regulates also the provision of information on carrying out professional activities, relationship with the courts, government agencies, local government and colleagues, and it also includes the obligation of continuing legal education. Failure to comply with ethical principles can bring attorneys-at-law and trainee attorneys-at-law before special disciplinary bodies of the bar.

Disciplinary responsibility

Attorneys-at-law and trainees are held responsible for any conduct which is contrary to law, ethical principles or the dignity of profession. The disciplinary bodies of the Gdańsk Bar Association are regional disciplinary ombudsmen, who carry out investigations, and regional disciplinary courts, which hear cases in the first instance. At the national level there is the Main Disciplinary Ombudsman and the Higher Disciplinary Court. The decisions of the Higher Disciplinary Court may be appealed to the Supreme Court.