In our office lawyers are either Attorneys at Law or Advocates ("Attorneys"), who are qualified lawyers associated in the relevant self-government organisations, providing legal services under the supervision of those self-government organisations. As a general rule, Attorneys have exclusive rights to represent clients in proceedings before common and administrative courts. Attorneys working in our office are highly experienced specialists in the field of civil law and in the conduct of court cases.
Although the professions of Attorney at Law and Advocate have different histories and traditions, today they differ in name only. Both professions are entitled to provide legal assistance to the same extent, are obliged to maintain professional secrecy and are subject to supervision by their self-governments. The only difference is that Attorneys at Law may also practise their profession under an employment relationship, and if they are employed under an employment contract, they may not act as a defence counsel in criminal or criminal-fiscal cases.
Attorneys as persons of public trust
Attorneys are persons of public trust professionally providing legal assistance in order to protect the legal interests of their clients.
The profession of Attorney may be practised only by persons entered on the list of Attorneys maintained by their self-government, who has taken the following oath: "I solemnly swear to contribute to the protection and strengthening of the legal order of the Republic of Poland in the performance of my professional duties in accordance with the provisions of law, to maintain professional secrecy, to act with dignity and integrity, guided by the principles of ethics of legal advisers and justice" and who:
- has completed higher education studies in law in the Republic of Poland and obtained the degree of Master or has completed law studies abroad recognised in the Republic of Poland;
- enjoys full rights as a citizen;
- has full capacity to perform legal acts;
- is of an impeccable character and, by his/her conduct to date, guarantees the proper performance of the profession,
- has completed in the Republic of Poland the Attorney's training and has passed the professional examination.
The professional titles of 'Attorney at Law' and "Advocate" are protected by law. During and in connection with the performance of professional activities, attorneys and advocate enjoy the same legal protection which is afforded to judges and public prosecutors.
Provision of legal assistance
The provision of legal assistance by Attorneys consists, in particular, in providing legal advice and consultations, drawing up legal opinions, drafting legal acts and acting before authorities and courts as an attorney or defender. Legal assistance covers all areas of law, including civil law, family and guardianship law, inheritance law, labour law, administrative law and criminal law.
An Attorney has the right to certify copies of documents as true copies of the presented original within the scope specified in separate regulations. The certification should contain his/her signature, date and place of its preparation, and on request - also the time of performing the action. If the document contains special features (notes, corrections or is damaged), the legal adviser shall state it in the certificate.
An Attorney may grant a further power of attorney ( substitution) to another attorney, advocate or foreign lawyer performing permanent practice in the Republic of Poland.
An Attorney is obliged to keep secret everything he/she learns in connection with the provision of legal assistance. The obligation of professional secrecy may not be limited in time. An Attorney may not be relieved of the obligation of professional secrecy with regard to facts of which he/she has become aware while conducting the case or providing legal assistance. The obligation of professional secrecy does not apply to information made available under the provisions of the Act on Counteracting Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing of 16 November 2000 to the extent specified in those provisions.
Freedom of expression and of writing for legal advisers
When performing his/her professional duties, an Attorney enjoys freedom of speech and writing within the limits set by law and practical need. Abuse of freedom which constitutes a privately prosecuted insult or defamation of a party, its legal representative or counsel, a probation officer, a witness, an expert or an interpreter may be prosecuted only by way of disciplinary action.
Attorneys are organised on the basis of professional self-government. Each attorney is a member of the professional self-governing and this membership is obligatory.
The self-government represents them externally and ensures that they carry out their duties in the public interest and for the purpose of its protection.
The organisational units of the self-government having legal personality are the district chambers and the National Chamber. The Minister of Justice supervises the activities of the self-government to the extent and in the forms specified by the statute.