The UK left the EU single market and customs union at the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31, 2020.
The EU Solicitors Directives no longer apply to UK lawyers and law firms, and freedom of movement into the EU has come to an end.
Different rules apply in each EU member state regarding the exercise of rights, immigration, visas and work permit requirements.
Conditions for UK solicitors to practice under title
Lawyers may practice in Spain with the professional title of their country of origin on a temporary or permanent basis.
They are not required to register with the local Spanish bar association, but it is recommended that they do so.
Lawyers must be domiciled in Spain.
Rights of exercise of lawyers
English and Welsh solicitors can:
- practice English and Welsh law
- practice public international law
- represent clients in arbitration, conciliation or mediation
- they call themselves legal consultants
They can not:
- practice EU law
- practice Spanish law
- practice international law that is applicable in Spain
- use title ‘lawyer‘
- appear in court
Requalify yourself as a Spanish lawyer
Spanish nationality requirement.
There is a Spanish nationality requirement to re-qualify as a Spanish lawyer, but this can be waived by applying to the Spanish Ministry of Justice.
You will need a law degree. A Spanish university must validate that the approved courses are equivalent to those taken in a Spanish Law degree.
When necessary, you will need to complete the missing courses.
Once the foreign degree has been validated, future lawyers must complete:
- a master’s degree for access to the legal profession (offered by public or private universities) or
- a training course for access to the legal profession at the School of Legal Practice (offered by the Spanish Bar Associations)
This requires approximately a year and a half of study.
After graduation, prospective lawyers must pass an exam conducted by the Ministry of Justice. This exam is offered twice a year.
If approved, candidates can register with a local bar association in the region where they wish to practice.
Set up a law firm
Foreign law firms do not need licenses to open offices to practice the law of their country of origin and international law in Spain unless they are from member states of the European Economic Area (EEA).
In case of registering, depending on the form of the operation, an office must register as:
- a branch with the commercial register (commercial register)
- a subsidiary under the Professional Societies Act (Law of Professional Societies)
The subsidiaries are governed by the Law of Professional Societies, which requires that they be:
- 50% + 1 owned by Spanish or community professionals, or
- made up of professionals (partners) with 50% + 1 of the council made up of Spanish or community professionals.
If you have any questions, please email our international team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The above information does not constitute legal advice. It was drafted by the Law Society of England and Wales on the basis of desk research, bilateral relations with European Bar Associations and engagement with members.
The Law Society is not responsible for actions taken on the basis of this note or the lack thereof. In the event of specific inquiries, we strongly recommend that you consider engaging a third-party advisor for advice specific to your business objectives.