The Legal System:
The Argentine legal system is based on a civil law system which is a mixture of US and Western European systems.
The Legal Profession:
Argentina is home to 130,000 lawyers.
Buenos Aires has a sophisticated legal services market with around 20-25 large law firms including the largest law practice in Latin America.
Regulation of legal profession:
There is no single over-arching body responsible for regulating the legal profession in Argentina.
Each of the 74 jurisdictions has its own ‘Colegio de Abogados’; membership is compulsory if you want to practice law in that jurisdiction.
The ‘Colegio Publico’ of Buenos Aires is the largest Colegio with around 60,000 members. It is looking to develop the international side of its work as well as promote greater training opportunities for young lawyers.
All the Colegios are brought together through a Federal Bar Association, which is an umbrella organisation for all the law societies of the provinces.
In addition to the mandatory Colegio Publico, Buenos Aires also has a Colegio de Abogados de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires. The Colegio is a voluntary association; it is active internationally and its members are particularly involved in IBA activities.
Currently an English solicitor can only practise in Argentina as a consultant on public international law or home law.
Only Argentine nationals may appear in court and provide advice on Argentine law. There are no formal restrictions on partnerships with Argentine lawyers, although the local bar may, in principle, be entitled to object.
There are few foreign legal practices in Argentina. Most operate through referrals and reciprocal arrangements with companies in third countries. There is little pressure from foreign firms to change the way in which they practise or to establish local offices.
Solicitors qualified in England and Wales would have to requalify to practice at the bar in Argentina.
Argentina put forward an initial offer on legal services under the GATS process in September 2003. On the surface the offer is very open however, there are no explicit commitments on associations or employment of foreign lawyers and the offer lacks detail, so it is difficult to know what it means in practice.