Lawyers to the courts

 

Lawyers at the French Administrative Supreme Court (Conseil d'État) and French Supreme Court (Cour de cassation) (hereinafter "lawyers to the courts") are ministerial officers who essentially intervene before the high courts of the administrative (Council of State - French Administrative Supreme Court) and judicial (Court of Cassation - French Supreme Court) orders. This profession, which operates in a niche market, has a limited number of members.

 

Evolution of the number of offices since the creation of the profession

Period Number of offices
1817 to 2016 60
2016 - 2018 64 including 4 creations
2018 - 2020 68 including 4 creations
2021-2023 70 including 2 creations

Opinions on freedom of (business) establishment

In accordance with the Law of 6 August 2015, the Autorité issues an opinion to the Minister of Justice on the freedom of (business) establishment of lawyers to the courts every two years.

Given the specific nature of this profession, the Autorité's approach and analysis are different from those followed for the other professions concerned by freedom of (business) establishment, in that they do not provide for a proposed map.

Moreover, the Autorité's opinion is published directly in the Official Journal, which is the starting point for applications for the offices created.

In its Opinion No. 16-A-18 of 10 October 2016, the Autorité de la concurrence recommended the creation of four offices by 2018.

It also made several recommendations to improve access to offices (especially for women) and lower the barriers to entry for future candidates. Among them, the Autorité recommended:

- extending the deadline for applications for the creation of offices and making the procedure for ranking applicants for the offices created more transparent;

- reducing the barriers to entry for these candidates, particularly in terms of training and advertising;

- making the profession better known to law students and lawyers at the Court, to broaden the pool of future candidates for establishment;

- improving women's access to offices, by strengthening work-life balance arrangements and improving the statistical information available by gender on this issue.

Opinion 16-A-18 of 10 October 2016 was published in the Official Journal on 1 November 2016.

For more information, please refer to:

In its Opinion No. 18-A-11 of 25 October 2018, the Autorité reviewed the establishments from the first two-year period and again recommended the creation of four offices by 2020.

The Autorité noted that the Association of Lawyers at the French Administrative Supreme Court (Conseil d'État) and French Supreme Court (Cour de cassation) followed several of the qualitative recommendations made in its 2016 opinion. In its second opinion, it formulated certain additions aimed at making the selection and appointment of candidates to created offices more transparent, improving the collection of information on the activity of the offices, increasing the presence and representation of women in the profession and allowing for a relaxation of the obstacles to the development of a real competitive emulation in this highly concentrated market.

Opinion No. 18-A-11 of 25 October 2018 was published in the Official Journal on 1 November 2018.

For more information, please refer to:

In its Opinion No. 21-A-02 of 23 March 2021, the Autorité de la concurrence proposed that the government create two counsel offices at the French Administrative Supreme Court (Conseil d'Etat) and French Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation) 1 by 2023, which will be added to the eight offices already created since 2017, bringing the total number of offices to 70.

The Autorité welcomes the significant efforts made by the Ordre des avocats aux Conseils et la Chancellerie (Order of Lawyers to the Courts and the Chancellery) to take into account the recommendations it made in its previous opinions. Several texts have recently modified the legal regime applicable to lawyers to the Courts, in particular with regard to the composition of the examination board for the Bar examination, the governance and conduct of training, the rules governing communication and the ethics of the profession. The adopted measures have enabled significant progress to be made in modernising the profession, as well as real support for the development of the created offices.

However, certain additional measures could still make it possible to improve the arrangements governing the freedom of establishment of lawyers to the Courts. In the opinion published today, the Autorité makes new recommendations on the following points:

  • introducing greater transparency on the criteria used to rank candidates for the offices created;
     
  • informing the public more widely about the methods of accessing counsel offices to the Courts, by extending measures of communicating about the profession and its training to the whole of France, and by providing for a module on the conditions for setting up in an office created as part of this training.

Opinion No. 21-A-02 of 23 March 2021 was published in the Official Journal on 9 April 2021.

For more information, please refer to:

  • Notice 21-A-02 of 23 March 2021
  • the press release of 23 March 2021:
  • the Decree of 20 April 2021 establishing two offices of lawyer at the French Administrative Supreme Court (Conseil d’Etat) and the Cour de cassation (French Supreme Court)