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Italian Attorney. Role and competences

The steps of an Italian Attorney’s legal careerItalian Attorney

The path to a legal career to become an Italian Attorney involves several years of study and internships.

Future lawyers first need to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in law, (Laurea in Scienze Giuridiche), which takes three years. To proceed along the path towards practising law, students require a two-year post-graduate degree (Laurea Specialistica in Giurisprudenza) or, a further five-year Master’s Degree (Laurea a ciclo unico Magistrale in Giurisprudenza).

The Italian word, Avvocato, has three equivalent terms in English:

lawyer, solicitor or attorney.

A potential Italian attorney then needs to complete a two-year internship at an established law firm and must pass the Italian Bar Exam to qualify to practise. After passing the Bar Exam and registering with the Italian Law Society (Consiglio dell’Ordine degli Avvocati), an Italian attorney can legally practise Italian law nationwide, not just in the geographical area where the Bar Exam was passed.

What are the competences of an Italian Attorney?

Competencies of Italian solicitors are wide-ranging. They comprise civil, criminal, labour, bankruptcy, financial, administrative, inheritance and also succession cases and appeals in a court of law.

Ethical conduct rules are essential in the Italian attorney’s performance of their office. First of all, Italian attorneys must base their conduct on the respect for the duties of integrity, dignity and decorum. Failure to comply with the ethical code of conduct will lead to disciplinary proceedings.

The legal profession must be carried out with honesty and integrity, so that it is not possible for an Italian attorney to start legal action, or take part in a proceeding, which may be construed as acting in bad faith. The legal code of conduct safeguards the client; an Italian attorney has a duty of care and loyalty towards a client. An Italian attorney behaving contrary to clients’ interests, or taking on a case that s/he is not competent to conduct, breaches the code of conduct.

Another fundamental duty for an Italian attorney is confidentiality. This refers to services provided to a client and information given to a lawyer by the client, or known to the lawyer through other circumstances. Confidentiality remains valid for information about former clients, or where the attorney, despite knowing the details of a case, does not agree to take on a case. The relationship between an Italian attorney and a client is fundamentally based on trust; an attorney must defend a client’s interests as well as possible within the framework of legal representation and in compliance with the law and the ethical principles of the legal code of conduct.

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