Lawyers are bracing for their profession to be opened up to competition. Greek attorneys are claiming they already face problems due to the present glut of the proffession.
The government has undertaken to open up closed professions,including truck and taxi drivers, notaries public and pharmacists.
One of these measures involves scrapping geographical restrictions on legal practices. Provincial lawyers are especially concerned by this. This follows the imposition of value-added tax on legal services. The country’s bar associations list 40,000 registered members.
Nikolaos Pagidas heads the bar association on the island of Syros which covers several other Cycladic islands. He notes that lawyers are struggling to survive. “Do we want lawyers who are independent and battle-ready or lawyers in the employ of multinationals? With the memorandum, with regulations that do not exist anywhere else in Europe, the government is harming lawyers,” Pagidas told Kathimerini. “Why does the financial crimes squad not go after the big-shot lawyers who don’t pay taxes and make an example of them? The squad is raiding the offices of bar associations preparing protest action, in a bid to cow them, but it leaves alone those who never pay taxes…It’s obvious that they have chosen to blacken the image of the whole profession to serve their communication needs.”
Fifteen provincial bar associations issued a statement saying the government: “is opening up the legal profession, not to the benefit of the citizen but to the benefit of insurance and financial services companies, the multinationals, the big law offices of Athens and foreign companies.”