Sunday, March 15, 2009

The legal system and profession are not well loved in Poland

Only 14 percent of Poles have engaged the services of a lawyer over the past five years, according to a nationwide TNS OBOP survey published last week by the National Council of Legal Advisers.

Entrepreneurs constituted the largest group of clients (36 percent), followed by farmers (29 percent). Assistance in civil or criminal proceedings comprised nearly half of all legal services provided (49 percent), followed by those seeking legal counsel (38 percent).

The vast majority of those who said they had not employed legal services over the last five years said they had had no need. Only one percent of those polled said legal services were too expensive.

“This shows that people tend to go to a lawyer when they have a knife at their throats,” according to professor Janusz Czapi?ski, a sociologist.

Furthermore, Czapizski said decreased interest in legal services stemmed from the common conviction the that Polish legal system suffered from major problems. For instance, 67 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that the justice system in Poland favored criminals and persecuted victims, while only 14 percent disagreed with that statement. Also, 70 percent of respondents agreed that lawyers put their own profit ahead of the client’s welfare.

Public opinion of lawyers was more equally divided, with 31 percent having a positive impression, 30 percent negative and the rest having no opinion.

The majority of people with negative opinions said lawyers were greedy (46 percent), while most people with positive opinions said that they were competent (66 percent).

Poland ranks 15th in the European Union in terms of citizens having access to lawyers, with one lawyer per 1,116 people. Poland has 34,181 lawyers, according to figures provided by the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe.