Policing the Legal Profession

by Super User

To be a Lawyer in Costa Rica you must graduate from one of the approved law schools in Costa Rica.   There is only one public university Law School, the Unviersity of Costa Rica School of Law and at least 15 private university law schools.   Students go straight into law school after completing high school.  The University of Costa Rica Law School has a 5 year program.  The other private law schools vary from 3 to 5 years. 

Once a student graduates form an approved law school they are authorized to apply for admission to the Costa Rican Bar Association (Colegio de Abogados y Abogadas de Costa Rica). 

The Costa Rican Bar Association just implemented in 2015 an admision test.  Before this there was no Bar Exam in Costa Rica.  However with more than 25,000 Attorneys in Costa Rica it is one of the countries in Latin America with the highest number of lawyers per capita.   The implementation of a Bar Exam is ensure that those that are admitted to the Bar have met the relevant standards. 

In addition to being a member of the Costa Rican Bar Association those lawyers that also want to practice as a Notary Public must also be admitted into the National Directorate of Notaries which oversees the licensing of Notaries in Costa Rica.  In order to be Notary in Costa Rica you must also be an Attorney.  There are currently around 9,000 licensed Notaries in Costa Rica who act as agents of the government recording system.  They draft, interpret and record public documents in the National and Civil registry of Costa Rica.  To be a Notary in Costa Rica the applicant must complete the Notary Public university course which takes one year.

Both Lawyers and Notaries may be held personally accountable for any criminal, or wrongful civil acts, and for any damages which flow from them. Disciplinary proceedings may also be undertaken by the respective governing body, against a member, for improper, or unethical conduct, which, if proven, may result in a verbal, or written admonishment of the member, or suspension from practice, for a period of up to ten years, depending on the severity of the action being considered.

 The credentials and good standing of a practicing Lawyer or Notary, as to areas of practice, and as to any suspensions from practice, which may have resulted from disciplinary proceedings, may be investigated online at the Colegio de Abogados de Costa Rica.


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