Defense Lawyer Day in Ukraine Date in the current year: December 19, 2024

Defense Lawyer Day in Ukraine Defense Lawyer Day, also known as Advocate Day or Advocacy Day, is one of the many professional holidays celebrated in Ukraine. It has been observed every December 19 for more than two decades.

The history of defense in court in Ukraine dates back to Kyivan Rus’, but the first lawyers in the modern sense of the word began to emerge during the times of Polish and Lithuanian rule in Ukraine, largely thanks to the Statutes of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Magdeburg rights that laid the foundation for the legal profession in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and, by extension, in Ukraine.

The institute of advocacy in Ukraine emerged in the mid-19th century. It underwent a number of changes and transformations during the Ukrainian Revolution and was eventually integrated into the Soviet institute of advocacy when Ukraine became a constituent republic of the Soviet Union.

The modern stage of the development of Ukraine’s institute of advocacy began in 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the independence of Ukraine. The Law on Defense Lawyers, adopted in 1992, marked a new era for Ukrainian defense attorneys. A new version of the law, entitled On Defense Lawyers and Advocacy, was adopted in 2012.

In Ukraine, like in most other countries, there are certain requirements for defense lawyers. To become a practicing defense attorney, once must get a degree in law (in Ukraine, it is a regular university degree; there are no law schools like in the United States), work as a lawyer for at least two years, pass a qualifying exam, complete an internship, take a professional oath, and receive a certificate that confirms their right to work as a defense lawyer.

Ukrainian defense attorneys can open a private practice, offering their services as individual entrepreneurs, or work at an advocacy bureau. They are not allowed to simultaneously work as notaries or legal experts. Defense attorneys can represent individuals and legal entities in civil and criminal cases.

The names of all licensed defense attorneys can be found in the Unified Register of Defense Lawyers of Ukraine, which is available on the official website of the Ukrainian National Bar Association. As of March 2021, there were nearly 45,000 practicing defense lawyers in Ukraine.

Defense Lawyer Day was officially established by President Leonid Kuchma in 2002 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Law on Defense Lawyers, highlight the important role that defense lawyers play in protecting the rights of freedoms of Ukrainian residents, and celebrate their contribution to civil society. This professional day also emphasizes the important role that the institute of advocacy plays in Ukraine as in a modern democratic country.

Although Defense Lawyer Day is one of the many official professional holidays celebrated in Ukraine, the government of Ukraine doesn’t organize any festive events or special award ceremonies, although such events may be organized by the National Bar Association and other professional organizations. The holiday is celebrated mainly within the professional community but is not widely known among the general public.

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