The Spanish government is considering introducing a number of measures aimed at reducing the costs of legal services in Spain. The measures currently being proposed include the removal, in certain situations, of the requirement that lawyers in Spain be registered with a College of Lawyers, no longer requiring that lawyers pass a special exam to access the profession and permitting lawyers to act as ‘procuradores’, thus eliminating the need to have a separate professional assist in court cases.
Less Law Societies
The proposal would see the number of Law Societies reduced from 83 to around 33 and allow those lawyers who do not appear before courts or tribunals to be registered with the local Law Society. Also planned is the removal of the special examination that must be taken by all Law graduates before being permitted to practice law.
The project is, however, meeting stiff resistance from the 83 independent Law Societies in Spain as well as the General Council of Legal Associations (Colegio General de la Abogocia Española) who have presented the results of a specially commissioned survey (Spanglish version) demonstrating overwhelming opposition to the reforms by members of the profession and of the public.
The survey highlights the reasons why the legal profession in Spain is objecting to the planned reforms:
- that the local Law Societies perform an important social function such as Legal Aid that would be threatened by the reforms;
- that the lawyers themselves recognise the importance of an entrance examination to confirm aptitude for their profession;
- the removal of the exam would in no way reduce the professional legal fees charged.
That said Spanish public seem to believe that the proposed changes would eventually result in a decrease in the cost of legal procedures so it will be interesting to see if the government listen to the legal profession or opt for a more populist course of action.