French article on solicitors/Französischer Artikel über Solicitors

The legaltranslators group at Yahoo has yet again received an advertising mail from Translation Directory:

bq. Read more free articles for translators at

with a list of those articles. Most have nothing to do with legal translation, but I had to look at The “Solicitor” – A judicial auxiliary function in the English legal system by A. de Schlichting – Pr. de droit (what is Pr. de droit?). Being a solicitor myself, I was interested to hear I have a judicial function. I love the way they put “Solicitor”, in inverted commas, as if it were dubious. I know those inverted commas are used for emphasis, but that’s not customary in English, is it?

I was slowed down but not stopped when I saw the article was written in French. My headers here may be misleading, but if I wrote an entry in French I would indicate that in the header.

However, I feel I should add some comments to this article.

tous les solicitors ont poursuivi des études universitaires juridiques.

Mais non! I did German at university, not law.

les examens professionnels dans un College of law.

We usually call it le College of Law, not un College of law

peuvent alors être inscrits sur la liste des solicitors (admitted to theRolls).

No, no, no. The Master of the Rolls admits solicitors to the roll (singular). We did have a client once who admitted me to his Rolls, and I must say it was a wonderfully smooth journey.

tout d’abord, le solicitor n’est pas compétent en matière de plaidoirie (advocacy).

This is a common misunderstanding. Solicitors do masses of advocacy, some of them do nothing else, but all in the lower courts (where the greatest number of trials occur). Some solicitors can even appear in the higher courts nowadays, but there aren’t many of them yet. Some people are told that barristers represent people in court and solicitors don’t. Forget that. The real difference is more like that between a general practitioner – a family doctor – and a specialist. But I do the article an injustice – later this statement is corrected:

Toutefois, le solicitor a le droit de plaider devant des juridictions inférieures telles la Magistrates’ Court (juridiction répressive inférieure) ou la County Court (tribunal d’instance).

My legal French is not very good so my suspicions about représsive may be wrong, and those about rédiger des actes for drawing up a will.

Pour terminer citons l’activité notariale des solicitors qui leur permet d’authentifier certains actes en tant que notaire (notary public).

This is a rather complex subject. Solicitors can witness signatures. There are various kinds of notaries in England and Wales, some of whom may do more advanced notarial stuff.

Néanmoins, malgré la réforme, on ne peut pas encore parler d’une fusion des deux professions.

That’s correct!

12 thoughts on “French article on solicitors/Französischer Artikel über Solicitors

  1. Being not very good in legal terms, neither in German nor English, I am wondering what kind of education solicitors actually have if they don’t have to study law at university.

  2. That was quick – I’m still editing it!

    I had to do a basic law course in the five key areas. It now takes a year, but in my day it was six months. Then, along with law graduates, I did a similar course on more advanced and practical areas. On top of that two years as a trainee. I can tell you that I got on just as well as law graduates did when I was at the firm. I think you learn faster when you do a second thing. The biggest gap I felt was not having read much case law. But many law undergraduates don’t learn as much as they should!
    The same approach is possible for barristers, by the way, and some of the highest judges in the country didn’t do a law degree. Traditionally, in England and other common-law countries, law is for practitioners, whereas in Germany it’s rather academic.

  3. Good heavens. He studied translation in Germany before studying law in France (and Germany). Passau has a very good reputation for languages and law, and like Fürth it is situated on the confluence of two rivers (and it is even more beautiful!)

    Somewhere I have an entry brewing on German translation academics who write about legal translation in general and then feel obliged to add the common law, although they know ******all about it – I wouldn’t mind if they would at least do their research. That’s what academics do, isn’t it?

  4. Yes. Herr Prof. – with his half-baked comments on advocacy – obviously hasn’t heard about Legal Executive-Advocates and Solicitor-Advocates who, after an accreditation by the Bar Council, can plead at all court levels in Eng. & Wales. Conversely, there are some Barristers – esp. members of the Revenue/Tax Bar – who rarely appear in court.

  5. Aren’t you amazed – I am – at the way people are prepared to publish total rubbish on something they know nothing about? I have an entry brewing on descriptions of the common law made by German academics writing about translation theory who know only civil law systems and feel obliged to touch on a wider area.

  6. I agree. I dread to think what German academics make of common law.

    There was some ‘geezer’ on Austrian TV last week commentating on Queen Camilla’s and Charles’s wedding who claimed – in ignorance of British Parliament – that the Queen was part of ‘the Government of the Day’, and that the British should be thanked for giving the world the Rechtsstaat (constitutional state) – using the German term coined by a German writer 50 years before Dicey wrote about the Rule of Law!

  7. Yes Mrs. Marks,

    you seem to be so wise but you maybe do not realise the realities in England.

    Sorry about my English. I know loads of english solicitors (who studied law regulary to get a 3 – year or 4 year LL.B. and afterwards went to law school). None of them has never ever seen a court from the inside (exception: the solicitor seatet near a barrister who pleads the case). I’m astonished they are allowed to get equal rights to appear in European Courts on the same level as Avocats à la Cour or Rechtsanwälte with proven wide legal background, skills and practice in courts, the prosecution service and law firms. Although they don’t even dare to appear on court in their own country. But it should be difficult for a solicitor like you, who qualified in german studies to practice his university knowledge as solicitor (Even if you think you could catch up with the regulary students. The thing in law is: the more you know the more you know that you know very little. But it seems you must still get to this point). And what about the protection of the clients who don’t know that your legal studies background is limited to a six month course and one year law school ony? Or do they accept that in each case you must start right from the beginning and learn even the basics of law? And do they have to pay for your personal needs of getting a minimum of knowlwedge in order to get yourself on a level on which you could be able to give la legal advice to other people? Are they billed for all these endless hours of self-traning). Schiller or Goethe do not help that much to solve the common law case. Legal studies are a bit diffrent. That’s why all european countries (inspite England who wanted even shorten university studies two 2 years) have instaured hard, long and very selective ways to get Avocat/Rechtsanwalt and so on. This might not be necessary if you want to end up as an extremly specialised solicitor, specialised (for example) in pony care law or the perfect knowledge of regulation n°102 to n° 103 and case 12 to case 15. But beeing a european lawyer (advocate) is a bit more of that and – to come to an end – the article wasn’t so false. The importnat thing is to do better. To critisize is the easiest way but not sufficient. I know a german lawyer who also thinks he always knows better. He didn’t study italien law but he advices italien law and thinks even knowing better than the italtian lawyers. Same thing for the US or for France. As someone who stduied in 2 european countries (Germany. France) two legal systems, both in a much larger dimensions than you did, I could see that the advice given by this self nominated super lawyer was complete rubbish and a great risk for the cients who believe him. The problem is, he knows nothing about it, so that he doesn’t understand that it is all false and he will advice the next client in the same matter. A great danger to the reputation of the profession! (This might may be explain my endles comment)
    And I can tell you one thing more. Even years after qualification you will get to a point where you don’t find a fitting solution already being decided by court and than you must rely on your large and profound background (which you have or you don’t have)to be able to find a professional way out of this.

    And one last comment: The internet is not meant to provide scientific solutions. It’s meant to communicate fast and easy. The information you can find in the internet is dangerous and mostly false (because you do not have the space to put all information, a shortened infornation gets quickly a falsew one).

    And a Pr. de droit is a non existant title in France and the author a good example: studying first translation and just one or two years law (even in another country) doesn’t seem to be enough to make a lawyer. It’s only enough to call yourself “Pr. en Droit”. This person will never be allowed to get Avocat or Rechtsanwalt, but he could try the conversion way in England an give his advice there. And a translater is no “academic” even if the institutes are sometimes part of the universities for administrative reasons. I’m to bored to continue.

    Sorry about this comment but I know I know little. It’s true, you study more effective when you have already accomplished other studies. But you can never catch up years of studies in months and you seldom get a case limited to just one field of law. So it’s not the worst thing to have a great background this Pr. en droit has not.

    Kind regards

    Nils Bayer

  8. Herr Bayer:

    1. I am a non-practising solicitor. I have never practised. If I wanted to practise, I would have to be an associate to another solicitor for the first three years.

    2. The solicitors I talked about who spend all day in court are not the same as those in big firms who want to appear before the European courts.

    3. It’s a good idea before you comment to read the rest of the blog to see the context of the post (the name of the article was sent as spam to many translators – I didn’t just pick on it), or to simmer down, or to post anonymously!

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