Do you want to practice law in the Netherlands? You must be registered in the National Register of Lawyers (Landelijk Advocaten Tableau, LAT) kept by the Netherlands Bar Association (Nederlandse Orde van Advocaten, NOvA). You have to meet the training requirements prescribed by the Act on Advocates (Advocatenwet) and possess a Certificate of Conduct (Verklaring Omtrent het Gedrag, VOG).
Professional education and traineeship
To become a lawyer in the Netherlands you must complete law school with a Dutch University. You must subsequently follow the 3-year Professional Education Programme for the Legal Profession (Beroepsopleiding Advocaten, in Dutch). You will have take a test (in Dutch) to determine your basic knowledge. For more information about this programme, please contact CPO/Dialogue (in Dutch).
Simultaneously you start working as a trainee lawyer under the supervision of an experienced lawyer (a principal). You can do this at a law firm, but also at a company or municipal authority, for example. The Supervisory Council must in any event approve the supervisorship. Alternatively, you can become a trainee entrepreneur. In that case, additional conditions may apply.
After completing your law studies, you can register in the National Register of Lawyers (LAT). To register, you apply to the (local) bar association for your district (in Dutch). You will then receive your lawyer card (advocatenpas, in Dutch) with which you gain access to secured online applications, prisons, an courthouses. Your lawyer card is valid for 3 to 5 years.
When you are registered, each year you need to follow training and earn education points (in Dutch). If you have not practiced as a lawyer for 1 year or more, you must be sworn in and registered anew. During the 1st year after re-registering, you must earn extra education points.
As a lawyer, your office address must be at 1 location in 1 district. If you relocate, you must submit your change of address to Netherlands Bar Association (in Dutch). You must also submit other changes, such as a change in the legal area you practice, if you start work with another law firm, or when you stop practicing law. Supplementary regulations apply if you relocate to the jurisdiction of another district court.
Supervision and confidentiality
Within NOvA an independent body exists that supervises all their members to ensure their professional conduct and act within the regulations of the legal profession. Also, lawyers' confidentiality is legally imposed.
If you do not uphold these values, you can be suspended or scrapped from the Register.
Lawyers from abroad
Are you registered as a lawyer in an EEA country or in Switzerland? And do you want to practice law in the Netherlands? Specific rules apply depending on how often you work as a lawyer and in which capacity.
Establishment as a lawyer in the Netherlands
Are you a qualified lawyer from an EEA country or Switzerland? Under the Lawyers’ Establishment Directive you can work as a lawyer in the Netherlands using your original occupational title ('home title'). You must register with the Supervisory Council (in Dutch). For this purpose, you will need among other things (in Dutch) proof of registration as a lawyer with the authorised authority in your country.
You can request a statement from the Supervisory Council after 3 years, proving that you have worked in the relevant legal capacity in the Netherlands. With this statement, you can register as a lawyer in the National Register of Lawyers (Landelijk Advocaten Tableau, LAT). You will then no longer have to take a test of professional competence or work as a student.
Acting as a lawyer occasionally
Do you want to act as a laywer in the Netherlands occasionally? And are you a qualified lawyer from an EEA country or Switzerland? You may act as a lawyer in the Netherlands under the qualifications of your home country (home title) through the services directive for lawyers. However, you must comply with certain conditions (in Dutch). You must, for example, work with a lawyer registered in the Netherlands.
Professional Qualifications Directive
Do you want to register on the basis of the Professional Qualifications Directive? You need to apply for recognition of your professional qualifications first. To apply for this recognition you use the Dutch-language application form (formulier aanvraag erkenning beroepskwalificaties). You may have to take a test of professional competence. You must comply with the requirements of:
- the General Act on the Recognition of EU Professional Qualifications (Algemene wet erkenning EU-beroepskwalificaties)
- the Regulations on EU Qualifications for Lawyers (Regeling EU-beroepskwalificaties advocatuur, in Dutch).
Qualifications outside EEA/Switzerland
If you have studied law in a country outside the EEA or Switzerland, you have to redo your law degree at a Dutch university. If your diploma from abroad is accredited, you may receive an exemption.
Consultation of Register of Lawyers
If you are looking for a sworn lawyer, please consult the database 'Find a lawyer' (in Dutch) on the website of the Netherlands Bar Association. Or you can find a sworn lawyer through the European e-Justice Portal.
Online registration procedure via Message Box
Using Message Box you can submit requests online to be listed in the National Register of Lawyers kept by the Netherlands Bar Association. Message Box is a secure email system that enables you as an entrepreneur to exchange digital messages with Dutch government agencies.