The legal system
The Lithuanian legal system is based on continental and Romano-Germanic law systems. After the country’s accession to the European Union on 1 May 2004, the legal system has been primarily influenced by European laws which take precedence over the national laws of Member States. The unified court system in the Republic of Lithuania consists of both general and specialised courts.
The legal profession
There are advocates (advokatai) and apprentices of advocates (advokatų padėjėjai) in Lithuania. With the supervision of an advocate and when it is allowed by law, apprentices of advocates can represent their clients in civil proceedings and defend them in criminal proceedings.
Advocates are free to choose the field of law in which they wish to specialise.
In 2015, there were 2074 advocates, 845 assistant advocates (or apprentices of advocates) and 1102 law firms registered in Lithuania.
Regulation of the legal profession and the Lithuanian Bar Association
The Lithuanian Bar Association is a self-governing professional body responsible for all advocates.
The main functions of the Bar are the following:
• Representation of the interests of the advocates;
• Regulation of the professional activities of advocates;
• Makes decisions on disciplinary liability for the violation of professional ethics by advocates;
• Appoints the members to the Bar Exam Commission and propose the chairman of the Bar Examination Commission;
• Registers lawyers from the Member States of the European Union wishing to practise as an advocate in the Republic of Lithuania;
• Responsible for the improvement of professional qualifications of advocates;
• Participates in the implementation of the state-guaranteed legal aid.
To practise law in Lithuania, one needs to be registered with the Lithuanian Bar Association. The Council of the Lithuanian Bar Association issues the licenses to advocates.
Legislation governing the legal profession is the Code of Professional Conduct for Advocates of Lithuania.
In order to become an advocate, one needs to: 1) be a national of the Republic of Lithuania or of another EU Member State; 2) hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree in law, or a lawyer’s professional qualification degree (one-cycle university education in law); 3) have a record of at least five years of service in the legal profession or have served an apprenticeship as an advocate’s assistant for a period of at least two years and 4) have passed an advocate’s qualification examination.
The legal services provided by advocates are the following:
• Legal consultations (legal advice);
• Drafting of legal documents;
• Representation on legal matters;
• Defence and representation in legal proceedings;
• Advocates may practice individually; on the basis of partnership without establishing a legal person or by establishing a legal person – a professional partnership of advocates.
Advocates may practice individually, on the basis of partnership without establishing a legal person or by establishing a legal person – a professional partnership of advocates.
An advocate can choose only one form of practice but it is allowed to change the form of practice. Having changed the form of practice, the advocate must inform the Lithuanian Bar Association.
Foreign lawyers and law firms
An EU, EEA or Swiss lawyer must register with the Lithuanian Bar; practise under his home title; comply with the Lithuanian code of conduct and must maintain adequate professional indemnity insurance. EU firms may open branches in Lithuania and operate multijurisdictional offices. There are a few European law firms in Lithuania including firms from the UK, German and other Baltic States.
Entry of non-EU firms is allowed only through partnership with local law firms. Foreign lawyers may provide services in the law of their home country and in international law.
Foreign law firms are only permitted in the form of partnerships with Lithuanian lawyers. There are various registration requirements with the Company registrar (depending on form of partnership), VAT and social security authorities.
Foreign lawyers from an EU Member State, EEA country or Switzerland may re-qualify as advocates, and can do so in two ways..
• Through Art. 10 of the Establishment Directive 98/5/EC, under conditions of nationality and after three years of regular and effective practice of Lithuanian law in Lithuania. Applicants need to contact the Lithuanian Bar;
• Through the Diplomas Directive 89/48/EEC, now incorporated into the Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive 2005/36/EC, by sitting the relevant equivalence examination administered by the Lithuanian Bar.
For more information see:
• the Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive 2005/36, which replaced the 1989 Diplomas Directive (89/48); or
• Article 10 of the 1998 Lawyers’ Establishment Directive.
Lithuania joined the WTO on 31 May 2001.