1. The conditions to be met in order to become a lawyer
2. What to do in practical terms (at the French-Speaking Bar in Brussels)
1. THE CONDITIONS TO BE MET IN ORDER TO BECOME A LAWYER
The conditions to be met and the formalities to be completed in order to become a lawyer are as follows:
- You must be of Belgian nationality or a national of a Member State of the European Union. There may be an exemption to this condition under the prescriptions of the Royal Decree dated 24 August 1970;
- You must have obtained a Belgian university (bachelor’s or master’s) degree in law. A candidate with a foreign degree must obtain a degree equivalent to their foreign degree, either via a university programme or (only for the European Union) by passing an aptitude test organised by the French-Speaking and German-Speaking Bars;
- You must be presented to the Court of Appeal for the Bar you wish to enter and there swear the oath provided in Article 429 of the Judicial Code;
- You must pay the registration fee to the French-Speaking Bar in Brussels;
- You must be entered in the list of pupils in accordance with the Article 428 of the Judicial Code, which assumes prior conclusion of a pupillage agreement.
For more details, you should refer to the memorandum « Conditions and procedure for entry in the list of trainees ».
The pupil lawyer must compete pupillage of three years with a lawyer who has been at the Bar for five years (the “tutor”) with whom he has concluded a pupillage agreement (an agreement of the type published on the site of the “Carrefour des Stagiaires”).
During pupillage, the pupil lawyer must in particular:
- attend his tutor’s chambers and court hearings;
- participate in the legal aid service organised by the Bar (the Legal Aid Office);
- attend professional training courses and pass the examinations organised by the Bar (the Certificate of Aptitude for the Profession of Lawyer) and seminars organised by the Bar;
- deal with a minimum of 15 legal cases (from commencement to judgement and execution) or play a substantial role in preparing 30 cases;
- participate in pleading exercises organised by the Bar Council.
At the end of pupillage and if all these obligations have been fulfilled, the pupil lawyer may ask to be called to the Bar.
2. WHAT TO DO IN PRACTICAL TERMS?
At the French-Speaking Bar in Brussels
The practical details provided below are purely for information. There may have been changes which are not indicated here. In practical terms, before practising as a lawyer, there are two separate stages:
Swearing the oath
The oath may be sworn even if the candidate pupil has not yet lodged the pupillage agreement or even found a tutor.
Oaths are sworn on 1 September at 15.00 (or the first working day in September) and on the first Monday of each month at 8.45 between October and December. For other months of the year, oaths may be sworn every two months, i.e. on the first days of February, April and June, always at 8.45.
When the first Monday is a public holiday, oaths are sworn the following Monday.
The future pupil must lodge the following documents with the First Office of the Prosecutor General (3rd floor in the Law Courts):
→ the original degree in law;
→ a certificate of nationality delivered by the municipal administration for his domicile;
→ a certificate of good morals;
→ the identity of the lawyer who will present him when he swears the oath.
These documents must be lodged at the latest on Friday at 16.00 in the week preceding the date when the oath will be sworn (or 5 working days before).
However, and this is important, for oaths to be sworn in September and October, they must be lodged at the latest on Wednesday at 16.00 in the week preceding the date when the oath will be sworn (or 8 working days before).
Candidates will complete two forms on site.
Offices will be open from 8.30 to 11.30 and from 12.30 to 16.00.
Before swearing the oath, the future pupil is presented to the First President of the Court of Appeal in Brussels, to the Prosecutor General with the Court of Appeal in the presence of the President of the French-Speaking Bar.
After the oath has been sworn, the future pupil must, by December 2013, collect all the documents produced to the Civil Clerk to the Court of Appeal (1st floor in the Law Courts). From January 2014, the documents will automatically be sent to the Bar.
Entry in the list of pupils
The future pupil will lodge a pupillage agreement with the Pupil Secretary (1st floor, 63 Rue de la Régence), for approval. This agreement may be lodged before or after swearing the oath.
To be approved, the agreement must:
- contain an undertaking signed at least by the pupil and the tutor, who are natural persons;
- have a tutor who has not made undertakings for more than 3 pupils;
- reproduce ne varietur the text of article 2 of the standard pupil agreement;
- reproduce ne varietur the text of article 3 of the standard pupil agreement;
- state the remuneration to be paid to the pupil..
→ cf. "Memorandum “The Pupil Agreement”" as well as "pupil agreement"
When the agreement is approved and the future pupil has sworn the oath, he will return to the Secretary to pay the following registration fees:
→ fee for entry in the list of pupils: € 200
→ inclusive contribution: € 568 for entries from January to June (€ 284 for entries from July to December).
→ registration fee for CAPA courses and examinations: € 750 prior to registration for the courses and € 400 on 1 January the following year.
Payments may be made:
→ either via the Bancontact terminal in the Pupil Secretary’s office;
→ or by transfer to the ING accounts details of which will be provided by the Pupil Secretary.
Once the payments have been made, he will give the Pupil Secretary all the documents collected from the Clerk to the Court of Appeal to which he will append his degree (for a master) and 4 photographs for identification.
From January 2014, only the photographs for identification and the degree appendices must be lodged, as the Pupil Secretary will already have the other documents His lawyer number will be given to him at this time.
He will complete the various administrative formalities to complete his file. This is then sent to the Bar Council, within a deadline of 15 days.
Once that deadline has passed and unless the Bar has been informed of grounds for objection, the future pupil will be notified by letter from the President of the Bar of his entry in the list of pupils and authorisation to wear a robe and to speak before the various jurisdictions in the country. Awaiting the completion of this last formality, he will be allowed to attend the Law Courts, the lawyers’ library and his tutor’s chambers.
From receipt of the authorisation from the President of the Bar, the pupil lawyer will take his practising card from the New Technologies Centre (ground floor in the Law Courts) preferably on the Friday following the authorisation by the President of the Bar as well as his degree from the Pupil Secretary.
For more information, do not hesitate to contact the Pupil Secretary:
Tel. 02.519.83.47 or 02.519.83.23.
Similarly, it is advisable to consult the site of the “Carrefour des Stagiaires” of the Brussels Bar:
www.carrefourdesstagiaires.com which has all the information relating to the first steps to be taken to become a lawyer (FAQ).