Both the Netherlands and Denmark have made announcements signalling a move towards implementing non-lawyer ownership.
The Netherlands Bar Association (NOvA) has announced a 5-year experiment, which would allow lawyers in the non-lawyer run SRK legal aid organisation to deliver non-legal services. NOvA has said that the move is coming as part of a broader investigation into a possible ‘new system of regulations regarding permitted corporate structures for lawyers’. The sandbox-style experiment is capped at 5 years per organisation, with NOvA saying that other organisations are welcome to apply.
The move does not come out of the blue. The Dutch competition authority (ACM) had been putting pressure on NOvA to amend rules in order to improve market conditions.
In related news the Danish Competition Council has released a report analyzing competition in the legal profession. The report has found that the industry had a turnover of NOK 14.7 billion in 2018 and just over 1,800 firms. It also discovered that almost 70% of the turnover in the industry was generated by corporate clients, with only 11% being consumer work.
Based on this the Competition Council has presented 16 recommendations that can strengthen competition in legal services, providing improved access to justice. Amongst these recommendations is the inclusion of new business models, in the legal sector.
New plans unveiled by the Council for the Judiciary (Rvdr) which are designed to enable digital litigation in civil and administrative law have been approved by the ICT Testing Office (BIT) and Sander Dekker, the Minister for Legal Protection.
The new approach, known as the Basisplan digitaal procederen civiel en bestuursrecht (basic plan for digital litigation for civil and administrative law), will make it possible to submit cases and exchange documents digitally. As well as this correspondence with the judiciary and the viewing of case files has been digitised.
The updated plans follow in the footsteps of digitisation in criminal cases and asylum and detention cases.
More than 1,300 lawyers participated in the recent NOvA survey on strategy, innovation and digitization. The results will be published after the summer. The survey is part of a broader investigation into developments affecting the future of the legal profession in the Netherlands, which the NOvA is expected to complete by the end of this year.
Changes in society such as globalization, digitization and increased cost awareness can have consequences for the administration of justice and the activities of lawyers in it. The adjustment to these developments can demand a lot from individual lawyers. Because of the essential function in a democratic constitutional state, the NOvA wants to contribute to the future-proof nature of the legal profession.
With the research into the digitization and competitive strength of the legal profession, the NOvA wants to map which developments are important for lawyers (offices). In addition to the survey, we conduct desk research, visit lawyers and organize group discussions.
With the survey, the NOvA wants to gain insight into the themes that are relevant to lawyers (offices), as well as their needs, possibilities and barriers to innovating their practice. Moreover, the results can show the extent to which the legal profession prepares for changes in the legal services with regard to the organization and digitization of the law firm.
Through (group) discussions with lawyers and law firm employees, a better picture is obtained of the state of affairs of the Dutch legal profession. This includes opportunities and threats, the changing needs and expectations of customers and the role of regulation. The working method of progressive law firms is further analyzed.
Finally, an assessment is made of the impact of developments on the proper administration of justice. With the results of the research, the NOvA wants to determine which task and assignment it has. Depending on this, the NOvA will then develop policy on this.
As announced at the end of last year, the 7th annual ICLR conference is taking place in The Hague between 3 – 5 October, 2018. The Netherlands Bar, has begun the process of organising the conference and is looking forward to sharing the experience of its recently revised structure of regulation of the legal profession as well as learning about developments in other jurisdictions.
The organisers hope that the ICLR community will share ideas and provide input for the conference agenda in order to develop an interesting and interactive programme for this year’s conference. ICLR.net members can suggest topics and themes by posting ideas in the ICLR 2018 Programme group in the ICLR.net regulator community or by emailing the organisers directly at: ICLR2018@advocatenorde.nl
Full registration information will follow shortly. An event website for this year’s conference is currently being prepared by the Netherlands Bar. If you attended last year’s conference in Singapore you will automatically receive an invitation to register via e-mail in February. If not, and you would like to express an interest in registration, please contact: ICLR2018@advocatenorde.nl
Once the registration site is live, links to it will also be available on the ICLR website.
Congratulations to the Netherlands Bar Association. Their invitation to the Hague won the most votes in our recent survey which means that they will be welcoming ICLR delegates to the Hague in 2018 for the 7th International Conference of Legal Regulators. The proposed dates for ICLR 2018 are 3, 4 and 5 October 2018. This is the week before the IBA Annual Conference, which takes place on 7-12 October 2018 in Rome, Italy. We would like to thank the other jurisdictions for submitting excellent bids and we hope that they will consider hosting a future conference.
Upon hearing the news of their success, Bart van Tongeren, President of The Netherlands Bar said:
“The Netherlands Bar is honored that the ICLR community has chosen The Hague as the next ICLR Conference. We kindly invite all ICLR members and other interested organizations and individuals to come to The Hague for the 7th annual ICLR conference on 3-5 October 2018. We would appreciate to share our experiences with our recently revised structure of regulation of the legal profession and learn from other jurisdictions. We are looking forward to hosting the 2018 ICLR and would like to work closely with the ICLR community to develop an interesting and interactive program. More news will follow early next year.”
In conjunction with the Netherlands Bar, we will follow up with details of how ICLR members can help shape the conference content and agenda in early 2018.
We had an excellent response rate with almost half of all ICLR members and attendees of previous conferences submitting their views – thank you for taking the time to complete the questionnaire. Whilst the votes were pretty evenly spread, the Hague was a clear winner and October was the most popular month in which to hold the conference, so we hope that ICLR members and delegates are pleased with the outcome.
The Netherlands Bar (Nederlandse orde van advocaten, NOvA) is consulting on the future of professional education and training for lawyers.
Currently, in order to qualify to practise law in the Netherlands, an individual must have 1) a Bachelor’s degree in legal studies, 2) a Master’s degree in Dutch law 3) have completed three years of training at a law firm as an advocaat-stagiaire. The training period is accompanied by basic and further legal training called the ‘Beroepsopleiding Advocaten’ (BA). The BA covers civil, administrative and criminal law and a lawyer trainee chooses the area of law that best fits his or her chosen area of future practice as their major and a second area as their minor. In addition, the trainee lawyer must choose a number of electives as well as undertake ethics training. The implementation of the BA is outsourced to external education and training providers, approved by the Netherlands Bar (NOvA).
NOvA is currently undertaking a public consultation procedure on the future design of the BA called ‘Consultation BA2020’. The reason for conducting this consultation is to ascertain what abilities and knowledge a starting lawyer might need to have in 2020. The main points of focus of the consultation are the following:
The possibility of a bar-like entrance exam to the BA: how can the BA avoid duplicating/repeating the teaching of juridical content (the juridical basics) that should be taught in university? If duplication could be avoided, hopes are that the BA, and therefore the service and skills of the starting lawyer, would be of a higher quality. Also, this could lead to cheaper and less time-consuming training, which is more practical and less theoretical. A point of discussion in this area is whether this BA entrance exam should also, besides juridical content, include soft skills and analytical skills.
The potential for closer cooperation in the (practical) training within the BA and the training the firms provide to their lawyers-to-be.
(After a broad-based bar exam) A greater emphasis on juridical specialization in the training, as NOvA believes specialization is key to further improvement of the quality of Netherland’s lawyers.
A stronger emphasis on ethical aspects of the profession.
The consultation ends 18th September. After a thorough analysis of responses the NOvA board will decide on whether and how the current vocational training might be changed. You can read more about the consultation on NOvA’s website.
Contributed by: Lucas Korsten, policy adviser, The Netherlands Bar