The Legal System
The Romanian legal system is a civil law system.
The Legal Profession
In Romania a lawyer is known as an avocat.
Regulation of the Legal Profession
The legal profession in Romania is organised on a decentralised basis. An avocat needs to be a member of one of the 41 regional bar associations in Romania. The regional bar associations hold most of the regulatory powers.
There is a National Association of Romanian Bars (Uniunea Nationala A Barourilor Din Romania or UNBR), which consists of representatives from each of the 41 regional bar associations and has advisory jurisdiction over issues related to the regulation and discipline of avocati.
Qualification as an Avocat
Following completion of a Romanian law degree, a law graduate needs to pass a bar exam to apply for admission to the bar as a probationary lawyer. A probationary lawyer needs to complete a two year professional training period under the supervision of a permanent lawyer of at least six years standing.
Following completion of the training period, a probationary lawyer can acquire the status of a permanent lawyer by either passing the bar exam for permanent lawyers or the graduation exam of the National Institute for the Training and Improvement of Lawyers.
Continuing Professional Development (“CPD”)
There are new rules on continuing professional training of lawyers which require an avocat to participate in at least 3 seminars, conferences or debates, organised at the regional bar association every 2 years.
The regional bar associations are responsible for maintaining a record of avocat participation in CPD and issuing a certificate to confirm that the avocat has met his/her participation requirements every two years.
An avocat can also work as a local government representative, work in academia or act as an arbitrator, mediator, conciliator, negotiator, tax adviser, IP adviser, licensed translator, administrator or liquidator.
An avocat cannot undertake paid activity practising another profession, undertake any activities which would damage the independence of the lawyer’s profession or undertake any material trading activity.
Right of EU Lawyers to Practice in Romania
Romania is a Member State of the European Union and has therefore implemented the Establishment Directive 98/5/EC which allows lawyers who are qualified in and a citizen of an EU/EEA Member State of Switzerland to practise on a permanent basis under their home title in another EU/EEA Member State, or Switzerland as a Registered European Lawyer (“REL”).
View How to practice in the EU for more information about the requirement to register with the host state bar and other regulatory requirements.
An REL registered in Romania has all of the same rights as a Romanian avocat but cannot carry out representative or advocacy work in the Romanian courts, only in international arbitration tribunals.
Romania has also implemented the Lawyers’ Services Directive 1977 (77/249) which governs the provision of services by an EU/EEA/Swiss qualified lawyer in a Member State other than the one in which he gained his title - known as the ’host state‘.
View How to practice in the EU for more information about the Lawyers’ Services Directive.
Practice Vehicles for RELs
An REL can practice in the same practice vehicles as a Romanian avocat, which include sole practice, chambers-like arrangements for practicing lawyers, partnership in a professional civil company and limited liability partnership in a limited-laibility professional civil company.
Lawyers working in professional civil companies, with or without limited liability, cannot act for clients with conflicting interests. These rules do not apply to lawyers practising in chambers-like arrangements who have personal liability for and individual relationships with their clients.
Right of EU Lawyers to Requalify as an REL
For all nationals of an EU/EEA Member State, or Switzerland there are two routes to re-qualification as a Romanian avocat :
• (i) the Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive 2005/36, which replaced the 1989 Diplomas Directive (89/48); or
• (ii) Article 10 of the 1998 Lawyers’ Establishment Directive is basically an exemption from the regime foreseen by the Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive.
For more information on these routes to re-qualification view the How to practice in the EU guide.
Romania is a member of the WTO but all GATS negotiations are carried out by the European Commission on behalf of all EU Member States.
A foreign lawyer from a WTO Member State other than an EU/EEA Member State or Switzerland is only permitted to supply legal services in Romania in the following areas:
• (i) public international law;
• (ii) EC law; and
• (iii) law of jurisdiction of qualification