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How to practise in France

Regulatory compliance:

Solicitors of England and Wales as well as European/EEA/Swiss lawyers may apply for registration as European lawyers. France implemented the Establishment Directive 98/5/EC. Establishment is permitted for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals who are qualified in these countries. It allows them to give advice in international law, the law of their home country as well as French law. Registration under this directive is with the Barreau of their intended place of establishment. A "dossier d'inscription" must be submitted along with relevant documents, and sent to the Barreau

Legal services by EU, EEA and Swiss qualified lawyers can also be provided cross-border on a temporary basis under the provisions of the Lawyers Services Directive 77/249/EEC. Contrary to the Establishment Directive, there are no conditions of nationality under the Lawyers Services Directive.


Solicitors of England and Wales (and other EU, EEA and Swiss qualified lawyers) seeking to requalify in France 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 French law in France. Applicants need to submit a "dossier d'assimilation" along with relevant documents (listed in the form) and send it to their Barreau of registration.
• 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 Conseil National des Barreaux.
Other foreign lawyers can requalify in France, under conditions of reciprocity, by sitting the relevant equivalence examination administered by the Conseil National des Barreaux.

WTO Position:

France is a member of the European Union and of the World Trade Organisation. Negotiations on behalf of European Union member states are carried out by the European Commission.


New possibilities have been introduced in France as regards law firms structures. The Law n° 2011-331 of 28 March 2011 on the modernisation of French legal professions allows for some extent of external ownership in the capital of law firms, and authorises, under certain circumstances, some forms of multidisciplinary practice.