Initial training of lawyers in the European Union


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General description

Is initial training offered, if yes is it compulsory?

There is an initial training provided by universities, an initial professional training provided by CRFPA (lawyers schools), which is compulsory. Its duration is 18 months divided into three periods of 6 months. (See the question, "What is the duration and time frames of the training?" below)

Does initial training differentiate between categories of trainees, e.g. for in-house lawyers and advocates?

The initial training to become a lawyer is not intended for people who want to become in-house counsel. However, many people who want to become in-house counsel enrol for this initial training, as it seems to be an advantage for being recruited.

Which entities are responsible for organising initial training?

It is the CRFPAs that provide the initial training. There are 11 of them located in France.

The list of the 11 CRFPA is available here.

What is the statutory basis for initial training?

Legal basis: Articles 57 and following of the décret n°91-1197 du 27 novembre 1991

Access to the initial training

Are there conditions for accessing the training?

You need to have a law degree and pass the CRFPA entrance exam.
This exam is held once a year. It is composed of admissibility tests (summary note, law of obligations exam), speciality test (choice of civil, business, social, criminal, administrative, international and European, tax), procedure test (civil and MARD, criminal, administrative and MARD) and admission tests (an English language test, an oral on the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms).

Legal basis:

What is the main recruitment procedure? If it is competitive - who runs it?

The CRFPA entrance examination is organised by the universities (Instituts d’études judiciaires). The national commission of the access examination prepares the written eligibility tests which, therefore, are the same for all candidates. The oral admission tests are organised by the universities (Instituts d’études judiciaires).

Are there alternative access routes to the training?

Yes, there are exemptions for access to initial training for doctors of law (PhD). Article 12-1 of Law n° 71-1130 of 31 December 1971 on the reform of certain judicial and legal professions.

There are also derogations for certain professionals. Articles 97 and 98 of Decree n° 91-1197 of 27 November 1991.

Format and content of the initial training

What is the duration and time frames of the training?

The duration of the training is currently 18 months divided into three periods of 6 months:

  • 6 months of practical teaching to acquire the fundamentals
  • 6 months devoted to the student's individual educational project (PPI)
  • 6 months devoted to an internship in a law firm

How is the training organised?

This training is organised by the CRFPAs in accordance with the normative decision n° 2020-001 of the Conseil national des Barreaux (CNB) defining the organisational principles and harmonising the programmes for the training of student lawyers.
Legal basis: DCN n°2020-001

Who are the trainers?

The trainers are practising lawyers or honorary lawyers, law professors, magistrates, or professionals (accountants, drama teachers, language teachers, etc.)

What is the content and objectives of the initial training?

The content is determined by the normative decision n°2020-001. It is divided into two parts: The principles of organisation of the training (the training and the trainers) and the training programme (ethics, the lawyer's profession, management and development of the law firm and professional life, other complementary teaching and training).

The aim is to enable student lawyers to train for professional practice.

Legal basis: DCN n°2020-001

Who designs the initial training programmes?

The Conseil national des barreaux, through its professional training commission, which is composed of lawyers, academics and magistrates, harmonises the content of the programmes set by the boards of directors of the CRFPAs by adopting the above-mentioned DCN.

What methodology is used for the training?

The methodology combines different modalities: lectures in lecture halls, workshops to enable practical application, team work, flipped classroom, advocacy exercises, etc.

What practical elements of the training are applicable to the trainees?

They are subject to an attendance obligation. The attendance of the student lawyer is taken into account in the evaluation of the student.

How are trainees evaluated/assessed? How often and by whom?

Continuous assessment is composed of taking into account the attendance of the student lawyer and the tests: individual oral (including pleading), written (including multiple choice questionnaire, consultation, pleading) and group work (including oral and/or written presentation).

The frequency of assessment is determined by each CRFPA.

Legal basis: DCN n°2020-001

The CAPA, Certificate of Aptitude for the Legal Profession.

Legal basis:

Are there any training activities carried out in conjunction with other legal professionals? If yes: How does it work?

The CRFPA can initiate local partnerships such as with the Ecole nationale de la magistrature (ENM).

What are the specificities regarding EU law training, linguistic training and European components of initial training, for example participation in CCBE or ELF activities?

European law must be included in all initial training.

Student lawyers must take a training module on the practice of law in a foreign language.

How many trainees are accepted for training? Are the numbers of trainees adjusted annually and by who?

The number of student lawyers depends on the number of candidates admitted to the CRFPA entrance examination, which varies each year. Any candidate who has been admitted to the CRFPA entrance examination has access to initial training in the CRFPA of their choice (in accordance with the registration procedure implemented by each CRFPA)

Termination of the initial training and qualification process

Does the initial training conclude with a final exam? How is it organised? Who is responsible for the exam?

Yes, the CAPA.

It is organised by each CRFPA, which is responsible for its conduct.

Legal basis:

Is there a further recruitment procedure to become a lawyer upon completion of the initial training?


However, there are derogations for certain professionals to access the profession of lawyer.

Articles 97 and 98 of Decree No. 91-1197 of 27 November 1991

Last update: 30/06/2023

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