French avocat, compared to his UK counterpart (i.e. solicitor), meets clients, gives legal advice, drafts letters and contracts and prepares the client’s case for trial, but is also allowed to appear before a judge. If you want to start legal proceedings, or if you are accused of something and need to defend yourself, you may, or in certain cases must, take on an avocat.

There are cases where if you do not have an avocat, then you will not be legally represented (in divorce proceedings, for example), and others where the services of an avocat are not compulsory (correctional procedures, or hearings before industrial tribunals, for example).

The client always has a choice as to which avocat represents them. In reality, several factors will dictate this: geographical proximity, the skill of counsel on this particular subject, whether he/she is on the bar where the litigation takes place, or comes recommended by a friend/ member of the family etc. Very often, clients are reluctant to consult an avocat or to ask for representation because they do not
know how much it will cost them.

In France, the fees of an avocat are not fixed. Rather, the avocat and the client are free to agree a fee between themselves based mainly on four criteria

  • The importance of the case
  • The financial situation of the client
  • The time spent
  • The complexity of the case