Under Hungarian law, only members of any of the regional bar associations may be engaged in legal practice.
In Hungary, law school education is comprised of 9 university semesters, completed with a state examination. Qualified jurists are entitled to use the title of Doctor of Law and if they want to take up a career as an attorney, they must find an employment with an attorney or a law firm. During their three years of clerkship within an employment relationship, articled clerks participate in postgraduate training under the guidance of the attorney(s) employing them. During their studies, articled clerks may not practice law individually, they may not have any clients of their own, and they may only perform sub-tasks under the guidance of the attorneys employing them in accordance with their qualifications and practice. To conclude their clerkship, articled clerks must take four special oral and written examinations, organised by the Ministry of Justice, on the legislation in force. The professional and training activities of the BBA are acknowledged from year to year by the fact that several of our highly experienced members have been delegated to such examination panels as examiners.
Moreover, the Budapest Bar Association has stipulated further training programmes for articled clerks employed by law firms registered in Budapest, in the framework of which practical skills and experience that cannot be acquired by reading rules of law and other technical literature are shared with our young colleagues. At present, the BBA provides training to approximately 1,200 articled clerks. In addition to meeting several other criteria, the Bar Examination to be taken after three years of clerkship entitles young colleagues to be admitted to a bar association and to engage in legal practice. Attorneys registered by any of the regional bar associations may represent their clients in court and before other authorities without any limitation in the entire territory of Hungary. An attorney may only be the member of one bar association at a time.
The activities conducted in the territory of Hungary, being a Member State of the European Union, by attorneys arriving from other Member States where they have been authorised to practice law fall under harmonised rules. In order to become familiar with the Hungarian legal practice and terminology, persons establishing themselves in Hungary to practice law may at first operate and give legal advice as so-called European Community Lawyers exclusively under any of the respective professional designations acquired in their home countries (e.g. Rechtsanwalt, solicitor, barrister, advocate, avocat, avvocato, адвокат, advokát, Δικηγóρος, etc.). After three years’ permanent practice in Hungary, European Community Lawyers may demonstrate their experience regarding the Hungarian rules of law and Hungarian legal terminology at a hearing organised by the Bar Association. On their successful hearing, our colleagues being citizens of the European Union are admitted to the regional bar association under the territorial scope of which they intend to run their legal practice in the future. By that act, European Community Lawyers become full-fledged Hungarian ügyvéd and may perform their respective activities in the entire territory of the Republic of Hungary, holding the same rights and obligations as their fellows of Hungarian citizenship.
The operation in Hungary of Foreign Legal Counsels arriving from outside the territory of the European Union (typically from the USA, Canada, and Australia) falls under different rules of law providing for a more limited scope of activities: Foreign Legal Counsels may only provide legal advice concerning the law of their home country and international law (but definitely not Hungarian or Community law).