Switzerland has an exacting process for earning a lawyer’s license. Those who wish to practice law must complete years of education, apprenticeship and testing. In addition, they must follow both federal regulations and rules set by the 26 cantons, which are individual territories. This system guarantees that anyone practicing law in Switzerland has a solid background in their chosen field or fields of law.
In Switzerland, there are no private law schools. All law students must attend one of the nine cantonal university-affiliated law schools, which include University of Basel, University of Bern, University of Lausanne, University of Fribourg, University of Lucerne, University of St. Gallen, University of Neuchatel, University of Geneva and University of Zurich.
To receive a license, legal hopefuls must complete a three-year Bachelor of Law (BLaw) course of study, a Master of Law program (MLaw) which lasts for three school terms, a one or two-year apprenticeship determined by the canton, and pass the bar exam.
Some students, including international ones, choose another option, one that allows them to finish training more quickly. They enroll in a specialized LLM that focuses on one type of law, such as banking. For those students who want even more training, it’s possible to attain a PhD in law following the acquisition of LLB, Master of Law, or LLM degree.
These rules fall under Article 7 of the Federal Act on the Freedom of Movement of Lawyers. Educational degrees earned outside of Switzerland may be accepted if an agreement exists between Switzerland and that state.
The individual cantons establish their own requirements for a law license. For instance, the canton of St. Gall requires that the candidate has Swiss nationality to practice law. It is the only canton to have that particular requirement, but the others do impose their own unique rules.
Once a lawyer is on a cantonal registry, they can generally practice law throughout the country. without restrictions, although cantons do have unique authority in this area.
Swiss lawyers are required to complete extensive training before they can seek admittance to the bar. Once they have met that standard, they may pursue further education in the form of a PhD.
Perhaps the most complicated aspect of the process is following the federation and canton requirements. Once a lawyer has completed their education, they are well prepared to represent a variety of clients, both regionally and nationally.