Practising law in Sweden
In Sweden, unlike many other countries, there is no such thing as a "lawyers monopoly" for practising law. Thus, anyone who feels apt to practice law may also do so, with or without a law degree, in court as well as outside. Although the Swedish system on its surface seems lax, the reality is the opposite. The predominant majority of law practitioners are accredited lawyers, known as "Advokat". And even if the title does not entitle to any substantial statutory extra benefits, the title Advokat at least serves as a "quality label" subject supervision and control. However, legal representatives appointed in pursuance to the provisions on legal help must be an Advokat or a law apprentice working under the auspices of an Advokat.
Although everyone who wishes may practice law in Sweden, not everyone is entitled being an Advokat. For qualifying as an Advokat and thereby a member of the Swedish Bar Association (Advokatsamfundet), following requirements must be fulfilled:
Firstly, the applicant must be a national of any State within the European Union or EEA and has his residence within this area.
Secondly, the applicant must have completed a Swedish law degree.
Thirdly, subsequent the law degree the applicant must have gained professional legal experience for five years, whereby three of these five years must have been devoted to serving the public. The latter practice can be carried out as an employee to an Advokat or in as a self-employer.
Fourthly, the applicant must be known for being honest and is overall suitable for practising law as an Advokat.
In case of applicants who have not completed a Swedish law degree, but who are in possession of education gained in a State within the EU or EEA and which entitles to becoming a lawyer in that State different rules apply. If the applicant has fulfilled all requirements in his "home" State for qualifying as a lawyer, he will also formally qualify for membership in the Swedish Bar Association. However, prior educational degree from the "home" State must be accompanied with an aptitude test, offered by the Bar Association, proving sufficient knowledge and insight of the Swedish legal system. Further, special rules apply for those who have qualified as Advokat in the Nordic countries. For this category, only an additional period of practice - three years as an apprentice in a law firm - is required.
By P. Erlingsson
LLM (Uppsala), LLM in European Law (Dublin)