Lesson 1 – Legal Professionals
Introduction and Objectives of the Lesson
Legal Professionals are individuals who are qualified to practice law. This is rather a broad definition, because there are numerous areas of law and plenty of possibilities for a law school graduate to find a job. The goal of this lesson is to introduce the most common legal professions in the Czech Republic and clarify the scope of their work and required qualification. There are differences in terminology used for legal professionals in the United States, England, and other countries as well. However, our aim is to look at circumstances and conditions in the Czech Republic.
English speaking legal professionals use a specific language and terminology which is called Legal English and which needs to be distinguished from common English. Therefore, we are going to explore the differences between them and show their appropriate use.
Legal professionals work with various sources of law. Acts and other legal regulations are the ones that are used almost on a daily basis. That is why we have to get familiar with their structure and related terminology. We hope you will enjoy your first lesson!
Legal Professionals in the Czech Republic
Also referred to as attorneys-at-law, attorneys are private legal practitioners. They provide their clients with legal advice and act on their behalf. Attorneys conclude and review contracts, represent clients before court and act within the scope of a power of attorney granted by their client. Practicing lawyers in the United Kingdom are called solicitors and barristers; solicitors offer legal consultancy and barristers represent clients in court (even though solicitors are nowadays allowed to do so as well). The Czech language may suggest that such legal practitioners are called advocates. Although this term is used in some countries and even by some native speakers, an advocate is generally a person defending certain ideas, rights or ideology (e.g. animal rights advocate, etc.). To avoid misunderstanding, we therefore prefer the term attorney. We may say that attorneys provide legal services to the general public and are not limited to one specific area of law only. In order to become an attorney, the candidate has to have a law degree and is obliged to practise as a legal trainee for a period of 3 years. After passing bar exams, the attorney is registered at the Bar Association and may start their legal practice.
A judge presides over court proceedings and is in charge of holding the court hearing and interpretation of law. Judges are the authorities who pass judgements and resolutions and decide on remedies and penalties. As there is no jury in the Czech Republic, it is the sole responsibility of judges to ascertain the facts of the case, assess evidence and manage the course of the trial. Depending on the nature of the case and the particular court, a judge may sit as a sole judge or in a panel of judges. See Lesson 4 to find out more about judges and their scope of activities.
Also known as prosecuting attorneys, prosecutors are involved in criminal proceedings (and partly in civil proceedings as well) and represent the interest of the state. A prosecutor is a participant in criminal proceedings. Prosecutors supervise pre-trial criminal proceedings, file charges against defendants or propose evidence. They also may conclude plea agreement with the defendant or file remedies against a court judgement. The Act on Special Court Proceedings expressly stipulates the role of a prosecutor in civil proceedings. For example, a prosecutor may initiate proceedings on protection against domestic violence. The whole system of prosecution in the Czech Republic is led by the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office.
The Czech term exekutor may be translated as enforcement officer, distrainer, bailiff or even executor. The confusion stems from different names and responsibilities…