President of the Portuguese Bar Association says PS admits to revisiting issues of the Statute of Bars and Law Societies

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The president of the Portuguese Bar Association (OA) said yesterday that the PS has expressed its willingness in parliament to revisit all the issues in the association’s statute that go beyond the already approved Law on Professional Public Associations.

Fernanda de Almeida Pinheiro was heard today in parliament by the working group on professional associations, as part of the changes to the associations’ statutes, where she reiterated and explained the OA’s positions on the proposal, adding to lusa that socialist MP Alexandra Leitão had expressed the PS parliamentary group’s willingness to review some issues.

“Alexandra Leitão said that the PS parliamentary group is available to revisit all the issues in the [draft] statute that go beyond what was determined in the already approved Law on Professional Public Associations,” the lawyers’ president told Lusa.

In particular, she said, “the powers and duties of the Supervisory Board, the professional duration of traineeships and the whole range of specific acts that the government has proposed to change and which were not provided for in the Law on Public Professional Associations”.

She said in parliament that she was not against remuneration for professional internships, as envisaged in the government’s proposal for the Statutes of Professional Associations, if the state sponsors this remuneration through the Institute for Employment and Professional Training.

In the case of the remuneration of graduates doing an internship with the Bar Association, she pointed out that although there are large law firms that can do this, many professionals work on their own and you can’t impose on a person who has difficulty governing themselves that they have to pay for an internship.

“The OA is in favor of paying for internships whenever they constitute actual work, but it is not clear why the state is not available to guarantee access to public mechanisms to support their payment, when it has been doing so quietly for many years with private and profit-oriented companies, through specific programs for this purpose,” says a document that the president handed to the representatives of the parties in the working group.

She believes that there is no limitation on access to the profession and that the OA’s General Council has already taken the initiative to reduce internship fees by around 40%.

As for the duration of the internships, the Order defends the current 18 months and not the 12 in the proposal, considering that the current deadline is “an essential element for good internal organization”.

With regard to the Supervisory Board, he considered it an interference, stating that the draft statute, “in addition to enshrining the creation of a Supervisory Board with a majority of non-registered members, in the case of the OA the proposal is that it must be composed of 15 members, when the Order proposed that there should only be five, as has been proposed in other orders”.

In addition to considering that the Supervisory Board is a body that does not exist in any European bar association, which are always independent and autonomous entities only subject to the supervisory power of the courts (as was the case in Portugal), she said that it does not guarantee the professional secrecy of members who are not registered [with the Bar], nor disciplinary power over these members.

With regard to its own acts, the Bar Association believes that “removing legal advice, drafting contracts and negotiating loans from the scope of the legal profession is to remove legal certainty from citizens and companies”.

Iris Lavan
Iris Lavan
With a background as a consultant in the medical industry, Iris Lavan brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to Portugal Pulse. Iris also runs a company in Tel Aviv offering marketing, business development, content creation and public relations services. She holds a degree in economics and management, giving her a solid grounding in business strategy and financial planning. Iris' commitment to Portugal Pulse is reflected not only in her consulting career, but also in her impact on the Portugale media landscape in Israel. She was an interviewer for Hadshot Portugal חדשות פורטוגל, a media outlet that broadcasts news about Portugal in Hebrew, where she provided valuable information on current affairs, healthcare and the economy. Since July 2023, Iris has also been part of the Portugal Pulse team.

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