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Lawyers & Legal Representation in Finland

This is a guide only and does not constitute legal advice

Lawyers have many names in English; solicitor, barrister, attorney, advocate to name a few. In Finland the general name for a lawyer is lakimies (law-man). A fully qualified member of the Finnish Bar Association (FBA) is entitled to use the Finnish title asianajaja (in English advocate). It is not necessary to be a member of the FBA to give legal advice. Non-members of the Bar are referred to as jurists.

Legal Representation in Finland: Introduction

Finland is not, comparatively, a litigious country. People are expected to be responsible and settle personal matters between themselves in a civilised manner. "You'll be hearing from my lawyer!" is not frequently heard. In cases of divorce for example, parents usually share custody of the kids on a 50/50 basis in an amicable manner, and battles over "Who owns what?" are minimal; if it was yours it's still yours, if you bought it together you split it. If you smoked from the age of 12 and get cancer you probably won't find much joy suing a tobacco company; you knew the risks and it's your fault.

Employment disputes are usually settled by arbitration, and most workers are covered by clear terms and conditions of employment delineated in collective agreements.

In this environment of 'reasonableness', solutions are usually reached by negotiation and arbitration rather than court proceedings. Lawyers are therefore often employed in an advisory or mediating capacity rather than engaged in prosecutions. Common areas of expertise for Finnish lawyers include

Private law firms offer their services for a fee. In court proceedings, the court can order the losing party to pay the opposing party’s legal costs in full or in part.

When Should You Contact a Lawyer?

Business: In most cases in Finland you will probably want to contact a lawyer for advice on business matters. A wealth of information can be found online but it is wise to seek local legal counsel when making any important business decision. As in all legal systems, the laws and regulations in Finland and the EU are constantly changing and businesses should not rely on online guides as their sole source of legal guidance.

Other matters: To avoid disputes eventuating in any kind of significant agreement between parties, it's good to contact a lawyer early for preparation of 'preventive legal assignments'; documents such as, for example, marital agreements. The cost of a document is insignificant compared to the costs of a protracted legal dispute about property rights later on, unlikely as that event may seem. Cross-border situations such as multicultural marriages, social security matters and employment matters are best arranged properly at the outset. If they are not, settlement of potential issues can be problematic, complicated, and expensive.

If you find yourself in a dispute situation I would not recommend contacting a lawyer as your first course of action in attempting settlement. If you have a problem with your employer, for example, first try to negotiate directly with them. If you have no luck, contact your union representative if you have one; see Employment Law & Disputes for more. In a Dispute with a Financial Organisation you can contact the Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau. In consumer matters the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority offers plenty of advice on your rights and obligations. In cases of ethnic discrimination you can contact the Ombudsman for Minorities for advice (site in 29 languages - choose at bottom of page). In Finland issues can usually be settled before recourse to lawyers or court proceedings becomes necessary.

Civil Proceedings
It is unusual to "take someone to court" in Finland. Try to work things out one-on-one. If that's impossible, the firm van Setten Kuusniemi & Partner Asianajotoimisto Oy have published a useful English-language article about what to expect when facing court proceedings:
A Guide to Civil Court Procedures in Finland  Archive

Legal firms, lawyers and attorneys in Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Hämeenlinna, Joensuu, Jyväskylä, Kajaani, Kotka, Kuopio, Lahti, Lappeenranta, Mikkeli, Oulu, Pori, Rauma, Riihimäki, Rovaniemi, Savonlinna, Seinäjoki, Tampere, Turku, Vaasa

How to Find a Lawyer

The Finnish Bar Association provides information about its Members, the Judicial System in Finland, Legal Fees, and Legal Services. Additionally it includes a search facility for Finding a Lawyer. You can search by:

Lawyers in Specialist Fields

Field of Law: Business / Commercial / Corporate

Legal Aid (Oikeusapu)

In Brief: f you require legal assistance in court proceedings or other legal matters, legal aid may be available. In general everyone should pay for their own legal assistance, but if they cannot afford the necessary assistance it may be provided to them partially or fully at the expense of the state. The ability to pay is assessed on the basis of means-testing.

For purposes of legal aid the state has a network of legal aid offices. In these offices legal aid is provided by public legal aid attorneys. Legal aid can also be provided by advocates and by other private lawyers.

The Ministry of Justice provides information on legal aid paid for by the state; available in six languages. Their web pages include:

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