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:

  1. 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.
  2. The potential for closer cooperation in the (practical) training within the BA and the training the firms provide to their lawyers-to-be.
  3. (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.
  4. 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

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