About European Lawyers Day
In 2014, the CCBE introduced the idea of coordinating an annual Europe-wide event that would encourage its member bars and law societies to organise national and local activities based around a central theme to promote the rule of law, and a lawyer’s role in upholding its legal principles, to citizens. European Lawyers Day celebrates the common values of lawyers and their intrinsic role in the defence and promotion the rule of law, as well as their contribution to the justice system.
European Lawyers Day programmes and activities are organised by national and local bars, or any person or group working with a national or local bar (bar members, courts, law schools and students, youth groups, and community organisations) that would like to educate the public on the crucial role of the rule of law and the legal process in protecting citizens’ rights. Each member bar and law society is asked to encourage its members to organise events, publish educational material and/or conduct other programmes that promote citizens’ awareness of the European Lawyers Day theme.
Previous European Lawyers Day
How digital transformation can enrich the relationship between the citizen and the lawyer
The 2017 edition of European Lawyers Day (ELD) took place on October 25th. European Lawyers Day is a day that celebrates the rule of law and the legal profession’s intrinsic role in its defence, as well as lawyers’ common values and contribution to the justice system. The theme for this year was: “E-volving lawyers: how digital transformation can enrich the relationship between the citizen and the lawyer”.
The event aimed at familiarising citizens with the new technologies available to the legal profession, and their positive impact on the evolving relationship between lawyers and citizens. Each bar and law society was encouraged to organise events in their national countries to ensure that ELD gains the widest reach possible.
BarEuregio.eu, in collaboration with the Ordre des Barreaux francophones et germanophones, Avocats.be, invited lawyers, citizens and companies to participate in this year’s ELD with a conference on the theme of legal « e-volving laywers: towards more justice? » at the Spa-Francorcham
Pierre Henry (President of the Verviers Bar) made the opening remarks, while the general introduction was given by Melchior Wathelet Junior (President of the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit). The first panel on “Les technologies dans le monde du droit: évolutions et perspectives” was composed by David Fredrich (LegalTech Solutions: Consulting, Conception & Development – Larcier) and Dan Kohn (Head of Key Accounts and Networks – SECIB). The second panel on “La cour de justice: l’utilisation du numérique; protection de la vie privée et des données” was composed by Melchior Wathelet Senior (First Advocate General at the Court of Justice of the European Union) and Eric Balate (lawyer at the Mons Bar, administrateur of Avocats.be and lecturer at UMons). Finally, the third panel on “Algorithmes et collusion dans une économie de marché” was composed by Nicolas Petit (Law Faculty, ULg Co-Director, Brussels School of Competition; EDHEC Business School, France). The forum was moderated by Gilles Quoistiaux, journalist from Trends-Tendances.
On European Lawyers´ Day (ELD) and this year´s topic, “E-Volving Lawyers – How digital transformation can enrich the relationship between the citizen and the lawyer”, the Czech Bar Association presented the work of Antonín Mokrý, the CCBE’s first Vice-President: “Will machines replace a human in dispute resolution?” (in or
The CCBE poster, together with an article on the provision of legal services through electronic platforms (link), is being published in the Bulletin, Journal of the Czech Bar Association which is distributed to all lawyers and trainee lawyers.
Moreover, an informative article about the ELD, (in original language): with links to the CCBE European Lawyers´ Day website, was published on 25 October 2017 in the On-line version of Bulletin, as well as on the website and on the Twitter account of the Czech Bar Association.
The Bar also covered ELD on social media.
The Croatian Bar celebrated European Lawyers’ Day on 25 October 2017 with a conference on “The Impact of Technology on the Legal Profession” at the Croatian Bar premises in Zagreb. In his opening speech, Bar President Robert Travaš said technology should facilitate the work of lawyers but could not replace personal contact between a lawyer and their client. Lawyers Lovro Kovačić and Tonči Ravlić talked about technology aspects which are already part of lawyers’ everyday life.
At the “DAV-Forum: digital civil procedure” on 8 November 2017 in Berlin, the DAV discussed how an efficient digital civil procedure should function. The aim of this event was to give the legislator recommendations for the improvement of the current rules so that both the lawyer and the client benefit from the digitalisation of the profession.
The Greek Bar Association organised an event on the ELD theme: “E-volving lawyers: how digital transformation can enrich the relationship between the citizen and the lawyer”.
Speakers included: Vassilis Alexandris, President of the Athens Bar Association and of the Plenary of all Greek Bars; Panagiotis Lymperopoulos, Appellate Judge, Vice President of the Union of Judges and Prosecutors; Ioanna Kalantzakou, Vice President of the Athens Bar Association; Nikolas Kanellopoulos, General Secretary of OPEMED, Vice President of the Union of Greek Law Firms; Alkistis Christofilou, lawyer LL.M, LSE; Panagiotis Perakis, member of the Board of the Athens Bar Association and Chairman of the Access to Justice Committee of the CCBE.
On the occasion of the ELD the Polish National Bar of Attorneys at Law encouraged the Regional Chambers of Attorneys at Law to organise school lessons for children. The meetings aimed at promoting knowledge about the law, as well as to focus on the topic of the Day – E-volving lawyers: how digital transformation can enrich the relationship between the citizen and the lawyer. The lessons were conducted pro bono by Polish attorneys at law.
European Lawyers Day in Poland was also marked with the organisation - by Committee for Professional Development of the Polish National Council of Attorneys at Law - of the conference in Warsaw entitled “A modern law firm – development and challenges”. Among the speakers was Mr. Jaap Bosman – international business consultant for law firms from TGO Consulting.
The Portuguese Bar Association hosted a roundtable amongst Portuguese specialists, IT providers, and lawyers with special guest Thierry Wickers, who held a lecture on the impact of technology on the legal profession.
The Slovak Bar Association organised an essay competition for students related to the ELD theme: “Future and Technology – E-volution of Lawyers”. The winner was chosen by a three-member panel formed by one representative of the Bar Council, a member of IT working group and the CCBE Information Officer. The winner - Tomáš Dilong, a bachelors student from Trnava University - was awarded 300 EUR on 16 November. The aim of the competition was to encourage future lawyers to express their views and to promote ELD at universities. This year, the Slovak Bar Association cooperated for the first time with ELSA Slovakia. The essay is to be published in the November issue of the Bar Bulletin along with the article on ELD.
On 25 October, the Bar Association of Slovenia, in cooperation with the Bar’s Law Academy and the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana, organised a debate on the topic "Ethical aspects of the use of new technologies in the field of law and protection of citizens" with the participation of four representatives of the Bar Association of Slovenia (Roman Završek, LL.B., President, Živa Drol Novak, Chair of the Ethics Committee, Janez Stušek and Alenka Košorok Humar, Director of the Bar’s Law Academy). The event was intended for law students and the general public.
Earlier, the Bar Association of Slovenia organised, in cooperation with the Bar’s Law Academy and the Ljubljana Regional unit of the Bar Association, a public lecture on the "Due diligence of lawyers in e-commerce". The lecturer was a member of the Bar Association of Slovenia, Janez Stušek.
The Spanish Bar Association held a roundtable with its President, Victoria Ortega Benito, and IT lawyers. A press release (in original language) followed the event, mentioning ELD, as well as the national and regional Bars’ initiatives and best practices.
The Bar also covered ELD on social media.
European Lawyers Day 2017 was acknowledged on the website of the Swedish Bar Association and on other social media, with information on the theme of the year, as well as the importance of the legal profession for democracy, rule of law and human rights.
- ENGLAND AND WALES
The Law Society of England and Wales held a seminar titled “The impact of technology on the legal profession” with the contribution from Lord Briggs (Supreme Court Judge and Judge in charge of the Chancery Modernisation Review in 2013) and Peter Wright (Founder and Managing Partner of Digital Law UK).
- NORTHERN IRELAND
The Law Society of Northern Ireland, organised a conference which provided an opportunity to mark ELD by highlighting the legal profession’s significant contribution to the rule of law and justice system throughout Europe.
Over 50 solicitors attended the conference and had the opportunity to hear from a number of key note speakers, including Ian Huddleston, the President of the Law Society of Northern Ireland, and Stephen Beattie and Andrew Bennett from Allen & Overy LLP.
The Bar also covered ELD on social media.
European Lawyers Day 2016
For the 2016 edition of European Lawyers Day, the CCBE proposes the central theme of “Access to Justice”. Access to Justice is indeed a main concern of the legal profession, and is an essential part of its core mission. However, since one European voice is preferred, we suggest to concentrate on the subtopic of “access your lawyer to access your rights”, with a focus on access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings, guaranteed across EU Member States through Directive 2013/48.
The CCBE wishes to highlight that having access to a lawyer provides a person with access to all their rights. Lawyers are uniquely positioned to inform citizens and to give effect to their rights.
Avocats.be organised an open day for citizens at the Palais de Justice in Huy. They also organised a debate on the theme of Access to Justice touching upon issues such as the length and cost of legal proceedings, lawyers' fees, the organisation of the profession, the 'lawyer-client' relationship, the legibility and understanding of legal acts and court decisions for citizens, reforms which undermine access to the court, the backlog of cases, ADR, etc.
The Czech Bar Association organised a photography exhibition focusing on human rights (photos taken by photographer Jan Šibík – see www.sibik.cz). The exhibition took place in the newly rebuilt gallery space on the ground floor of the Kaňka´s Palace in Prague, the main seat of the Czech Bar Association. In addition, an article was published in the Czech Bar Association monthly journal “Bulletin advokacie” (Bulletin of the Legal Profession) on the theme of Access to justice.
On 10th December, the Finnish Bar Association announced its initiative to financially support Finnish human rights cases that in their estimation should be taken to the European Court of Human Rights or other international human rights forums.
The Athens Bar organised an event at the hall of the Athens Bar Association on the theme of: “The access to justice. The right to access a lawyer”.
The Hungarian Bar Association published on their website (available to all Hungarian lawyers) a detailed article about the celebration of ELD 2016.
The Law Society of Ireland organised a screening of a documentary relating to access to justice for trainee solicitors (students). The objective was to get young solicitors interested in European issues and to become familiar with the role and work of the CCBE.
In addition, the Irish Delegation (Law Society and Bar jointly) organised a presentation of the European Lawyers in Lesvos project as a good example of access to justice (and linked to refugee rights).
On 3rd December, the Advocates of Lithuania marched through the Central Avenue of Vilnius.
National Romanian Lawyers Association (UNBR) celebrated European Lawyers Day on the 9th December 2016 by organising a discussion on “Access to Justice”. The debate was presented from the point of view of both representatives of the citizens’ legal rights field and the lawyers.
The Bar Council announced an essay competition on the ELD theme for law faculty students and trainee lawyers to encourage young lawyers to express their views and to promote ELD at universities and amongst its members. The winner was invited to the Winter Seminar of lawyers, awarded 300 euro, and had her essay published in the December issue of the Bar Bulletin along with an article on ELD.
To celebrate European Lawyers Day, the Humanitarian Fund of the Slovenian Bar organised the annual distribution of funds and the hand-over of financial assistance to people in need.
The Polish Bar Council celebrated European Lawyers Day on the 9th of December through lectures and workshops by lawyers in local secondary schools. Lawyers from local bars spoke to students about the legal profession and its core mission. Their focus was on access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings. Dozens of schools in Poland were involved in the celebration of European Lawyers Day.
The Law Society of England and Wales incorporated European Lawyers Day into their seminar on “Lawyers and human rights defenders at risk”.
The Law Society of Northern Ireland organised an event on Friday 9th December with the theme of Access to Justice at which Her Honour Elizabeth McCaffrey and Michael Robinson (Head of the UK Delegation to the CCBE) spoke.
Freedom of Speech
European Lawyers Day on the theme of Freedom of Speech took place throughout Europe on 10 December 2015, in conjunction with World Human Rights Day.
The theme was Freedom of Speech, and referred to all forms of expression. It was particularly important at a time of clashing liberties – the most obvious in this year of the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris being between freedom of speech and the right not to be insulted or discriminated against. This is also always relevant with regards to lawyers’ own freedom of speech, for instance in speaking about cases in which they are involved, or in being involved generally in civil society.
- European Lawyers Day Poster
- European Lawyers Day Handbook
- La liberté d'expression de l'avocat: un combat de tous les instants - article de Olivier Morice
- Interview with CCBE President Maria Ślązak
- Newsletter - Special Edition
- Highlights of some of the events that celebrated European Lawyers Day
European Lawyers Day on 10 December 2014 celebrated the common values of lawyers and their role in civil society in promoting the rule of law.
Of all of the basic human rights that have been enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to privacy and protection of personal information is the one most generally under threat through mass governmental surveillance, as revealed over 2013 and 2014.
When rights are violated, citizens’ faith in the administration of justice and the rule of law weakens. As lawyers, it is our role in society to uphold and defend the rule of law for citizens. Lawyer-client confidentiality and the protection of client data are key components of this role. Without trust and confidentiality, access to justice and the rule of law cannot be guaranteed.
European Lawyers Day 2014 proved to be a successful endeavour supported by 17 participating members. The CCBE Presidency participated in events in Rome, Madrid, Warsaw, and Paris, while the CCBE team coordinated a Twitter dialogue on the topic, in which numerous CCBE members and concerned citizens participated using the hashtag #clientdata.