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Lawyers & Legal Representation in Finland

This is a guide only and does not constitute legal advice

Summary: Finnish lawyers (attorneys, solicitors, barristers, advocates) - asianajajat, lakimiehet. Where to find them and when to contact them. Business / commercial / corporate lawyers. Legal aid. Civil proceedings.

In Finland the general name for a lawyer is lakimies (law-man). A fully qualified member of the Finnish Bar Association (FBA) may use the 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.

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.

Divorce: A prenuptial agreement is a good idea. Under Finnish law no division of property is imposed unless either party demands it, but in that case not only communal assets but individual assets are divided 50/50 between parties. So, a common type of prenup is "If it was yours when you got married it's still yours, if you acquired it together you split it." A lawyer can prepare a prenup for you.

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'. 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 Non-Discrimination Ombudsman for advice (site in 30+ languages). 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:

The European e-Justice Portal helps you find lawyers throughout the EU based on location, spoken language, practice area and more. The service is provided by the European Commission in collaboration with the currently participating national bar registers.
e-justice.europa.eu/334/EN/lawyers Multiple languages

Lawyers in Specialist Fields

Field of Law: Business / Commercial / Corporate

Lexia Attorneys: Lexia is a Finnish business law firm with extensive international experience in matters such as mergers and acquisitions, funding and investment, international agreements, actions for damages and dispute resolution. Lexia's mission is to provide legal solutions which generate measurable commercial advantage and added value. Lexia is a member of the Trans European Law Firm Alliance, TELFA, which works closely with USLAW. Effective execution of international assignments is thus enabled in partnership with a network of recognised business law firms.
References and further information: Lexia in English, Finnish

Legal Aid (Oikeusapu)

In Brief: If 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 it, it may be provided to them partially or fully at the expense of the state. The provision of legal aid is assessed case-by-case on the basis of means-testing. Legal aid is not provided to communities or companies. Legal aid services are available in English, and interpreter services are available if necessary.

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.

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

Legal Advice for Refugees can be obtained form the Finnish Refugee Advice Centre, a non-governmental organisation providing legal aid and advice to asylum seekers, refugees and other foreigners in Finland, with three offices in Finland. Site includes asylum procedure, EU asylum policy and more.
Finnish Refugee Advice Centre pakolaisneuvonta.fi En, Fi, Sw

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