Attorney at law
Attorney at law, legal counsel or legal adviser? How to translate Polish name of the legal profession “radca prawny” into English?
Types of lawyers in Poland who provide legal services
First of all, is should be pointed out that there are two main types of the professional lawyers who provide legal services in Poland:
- ‘adwokat’ (advocates) and
- ‘radca prawny’ what literally means ‘legal adviser’
To become an advocate or a legal adviser, one must, as a rule, graduate from the law school with master’s degree in law, then graduate form the legal apprenticeship (‘aplikacja’) and pass the professional exam.
The advocates as well as the legal advisers are obligatory associated in separate bar associations (Advocates Bar and Legal Advisers Bar).
Scope of the legal services
The scope of the legal services is the same in case of advocates and legal advisers is the same and the only difference is that legal adviser may be employed under employment contract (governed by the labour law) and provide the legal services to its employer. The advocates may provide the legal services only on the basis of the civil law contracts.
Both advocates and legal advisers are allowed to represent clients before courts and public bodies as a legal representative or a defence counsel.
Translation of the name ‘radca prawny’ into English
The literal translation of the name ‘radca prawny’ into English is ‘legal adviser’.
Attorney at law
It seems that this translation is recognized by the Legal Adviser’s Bar Association – Krajowa Izba Radców Prawnych, since the official English logo of this Bar includes the name of the Bar as follows: ‘National Council of Legal Advisers’.
However, the English version of this Bar’s site uses also a different term, it is: ‘attorney at law’ (e.g. see article: The profession of an attorney at law in Poland).
Many Polish legal advisers translate this name of the profession (‘radca prawny’) into English also as the ‘legal counsel’.
Purpose of the translation (attorney at law/legal counsel)
Probably the translations of the name ‘radca prawny’ into English as the ‘attorney at law’ or the ‘legal counsel’ are meant to underline that the given lawyer is legally qualified also to represent their customers before courts and public bodies as a legal representative or a defence counsel.
However, such translation of the name ‘radca prawny’ (attorney at law or legel counsel) makes sense mainly in case of the customers, who come from the jurisdictions in which there is a clear distinction between transactional-type of lawyers and lawyers, who specialise in courtroom advocacy and litigation (like solicitors and barristers in some common law jurisdictions).
The term ‘radca prawny’ is sometimes translated into English also as the ‘counsellor-at-law’ or ‘licensed legal adviser’.
The Polish term ‘radca prawny’ is unique and its creation and use is conditioned by Polish history. Therefore in my opinion it should be translated literally as the ‘legal adviser’.
The National Council of Legal Advisers adopted on September 22, 2018 the resolution No. 102/X/2018 KRRP i.a. on translation into English of the name of the profession ‘radca prawny’
The attachment to this resolution contains the translation of the name ‘radca prawny’ and few others recognized by the above mentioned council:
radca prawny | attorney-at-law
aplikant radcowski | trainee attorney-at-law
aplikantka radcowski | trainee attorney-at-law
Kancelaria Radcy Prawnego | Law Firm of Attorney-at-Law
Kancelaria Radców Prawnych | Law Firm of Attorneys-at-Law
samorząd radców prawnych | The National Bar of Attorneys-at-Law
Krajowa Rada Radców Prawnych | The National Bar Council of Attorneys-at-Law
Prezydium Krajowej Rady Radców Prawnych | The Board of the National Bar Council of Attorneys-at-Law
Okręgowa Izba Radców Prawnych w [nazwa miasta] | [city name] Bar Association of Attorneys-at-Law or [city name] Bar Association
According to the mentioned resolution these translations should be used in the official correspondence of the bodies of the Bar and its organizational units.
The members of the Bar are only recommended to use these translations.