Brief introduction to Finnish law degrees
Juristi (lakimies), lawyer = person who has a Master of Laws university degree (OTM/OTK)
Varatuomari (VT), Master of Laws with court training = a lawyer trained at the bench, i.e. with court training
Asianajaja (also “advokaatti”), attorney-at-law (also “advocate”) = a person with a university law degree and a minimum of four years of legal work experience who has passed the bar examination and been accepted into the Finnish Bar Association. All attorneys-at-law work either at a law office or in a state legal aid office. Lawyers working in lawyer’s firms, municipalities, organisations or other companies than law offices are not permitted to use the protected title of attorney-at-law.
Luvan saanut oikeudenkäyntiavustaja (“lupajuristi”), licensed legal counsel (“licensed lawyer”) = a lawyer permitted to represent clients at a trial. The licence is granted by the Legal Counsel Committee. The requirements for obtaining the licence are a university law degree and at least one year of orientation into the tasks of legal counsel, or passing the bar examination.
Julkinen oikeusavustaja, public legal aid attorney = a lawyer working in a state legal aid office. Approximately half of such lawyers are attorneys-at-law.
Confusing professional nomenclature
- There are approximately 2,100 attorneys-at-law in Finland,
- corresponding to roughly 10 per cent of the 20,000 Finnish lawyers.
- Roughly 2,000 attorneys-at-law work in private law offices, while around 100 are employed as public legal aid attorneys in state legal aid offices.
- As a rule, only attorneys-at-law, public legal aid attorneys and licensed legal counsel (“licensed lawyers”) are permitted to represent clients in court.
- There are about 1,600 licensed lawyers in Finland.
- Licensed lawyers are also employed by law offices (e.g. because they have not yet fulfilled the conditions for membership in the Finnish Bar Association).