Italian solicitor – Definitions

Italian solicitor – Definitions

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Question:  What is the difference between Italian lawyerItalian solicitor, Italian barrister and Italian attorney? I heard Italian solicitors can discuss cases in court nationwide.

Answer: When you hear the word “Solicitor” in Italy the speaker is referring to an Avvocato, i.e., a professional licensed to practice Italian law. Italian Solicitors are allowed to practice law and represent clients nationwide, in and out of court.  

Nomenclature: Italian Lawyer, Italian Solicitor, Italian Attorney

The Italian word “Avvocato” is typically translated into English as “Italian lawyer” (most common and general), Italian solicitor (more oriented to the UK and Irish market). and Italian attorney or attorney at law (as per the U.S. nomenclature).

When used to refer to an Avvocato, the three expressions above (Italian lawyer, Italian solicitor, and Italian attorney) are used without substantial differences, as synonyms.

Italian Lawyer, Italian Solicitor, and Italian Attorney, are synonyms.

In the UK, the word “Lawyer” is just a generic term for anyone who has studied law. It does not necessarily mean someone who is qualified or licensed to practice law. Conversely, in Italy, only people who meet certain requirements qualify as Avvocato.

An Italian lawyer (avvocato) most likely studied law at the university, trained law in an Italian Law Firm and passed the national Italian Solicitor qualification exam.

In particular, after graduating from an Italian law school, Italian Solicitor trainees have to train at least 18 months years in a qualified Italian Law Firm before taking the qualification exam, which in Italy is called Esame di Stato, the equivalent of the American Bar exam.

There are also other ways to become an Italian lawyer (Avvocato) in the Italian legal system. For example, lawyers licensed in foreign jurisdictions might be allowed to get registered in Italy as Avvocato after a specific recognition and/or transfer procedure.

Given that the Italian legal system employs the fused profession model (as opposed to the split profession model) in relation to legal representation, an Italian lawyer (Avvocato) would perform in Italy the legal activities that in the UK would be split between solicitor and barrister.

Italian Solicitor’s role – functions and capacities of Italian Solicitors

Once they have successfully passed the qualification examination, Italian Solicitors can handle any legal matter nationwide. Once qualified, a registered Italian Solicitor can conduct proceedings in all courts, including civil court, criminal court, labor court, bankruptcy court, administration court, tax court and court for minors, also for appeals. An Italian Solicitor can speak on behalf of clients and represent them in front of a judge and jury. Italian Solicitors can also act in place of clients for any Italian legal purposes, such as signing contracts, and may conduct litigation by submitting applications or affidavits to the court, drafting documentation for litigation and so on.

After 12 years of practice as an Italian lawyer (Avvocato) registered with the Italian Law SocietyItalian Solicitors can apply to be registered in the Supreme Court Lawyer Registry, to conduct cases at the Italian Supreme Court (Corte Suprema di Cassazione), the highest level of Italian jurisdiction.

Italian law firms and Italian law practices exclusively reserved for Italian Solicitors

Law firms in Italy must be comprised of at least one Italian Solicitor and can be comprised of multiple Italian Solicitors. When more than one Italian Solicitor run a Law Firm in Italy, they usually work in the form of an unlimited liability partnership.

However, recently a new law allows Italian solicitors to run their business in the form of a limited liability company.

Italian Solicitors must be registered with the Italian Law Society (Consiglio dell’Ordine degli Avvocati) in order to act as a professional legal representative.

Registered Italian Solicitors and Italian law firms are the only subjects allowed to provide legal services in Italy.

Role of Italian Solicitor vs UK Solicitor: Practical examples

The role of Italian Solicitors and UK solicitors are similar in several ways, but there are also several significant differences.

For instance, Italian Solicitors are not allowed to certify people’s identity or true copies of documents. Italian Solicitors are only allowed to certify their own client’s signature in a few circumstances, e.g., on a court proxy needed to represent the client in court.

Also, a property Solicitor in Italy working in a property purchase or a property sale looks after his or her own client’s interests during the whole property purchase or sale process. However, at the end of the process, an Italian Property Solicitor is not allowed to formalize the title transfer (such formality is completed by an Italian notary).

A Solicitor in Italy, if involved in an Italian Will, advises the client on Italian inheritance law and perhaps drafts the Italian Will, but does not formalise it.

An Italian Corporate Solicitor working on an Italian company incorporation advises the shareholders on possible opportunities, alternative structures, drafts the bylaws and article of incorporation, but does not formalise these documents nor registers the company with the chamber of commerce.

Personal identification, true copy certification, property transfer formalisation, Will formalisation and company registration are the domain of the Italian notary public (in italian  “Notaio”), not Italian Solicitors.

For the activities listed above, though the formalisation is completed by an Italian notary public, it is often crucial to involve an Italian Solicitor in a timely manner.

An Italian Solicitor represents the best interests of his/her own client while the Italian notaio is a neutral party representing the state in the formalization of the documents.

Italian Solicitors of Studio Legale Metta are all qualified registered Italian Lawyers who work closely with experienced English speaking Italian notaries.

Please find below some links to more information regarding the activities carried out by our Italian Solicitors on behalf of our international clients:

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