June O'Keeffe, Head of EU & WTO Affairs of the Law Societies' Joint Brussels Office

For UK lawyers in Brussels, the Law Societies' Joint Brussels Office is a useful organisation dealing with a range of professional activities.

Brussels Legal asked June O'Keeffe, Head of EU & WTO Affairs, about the organisation.

BL: When did the Law Society set up its Brussels office?

JO: The Law Society of England & Wales was the first national bar association to set up in Brussels back in 1991. In 1993, the Law Society of Scotland joined the office and in 2001, the Law Society of Northern Ireland joined. A number of other bar associations have also set up representation offices in Brussels - the Law Society in fact shares premises with the German Federal Bar and the Austrian Bar.

BL: What does the office do?

JO: The main purpose of the office is to represent the interests of the UK solicitors' professions to the EU institutions. In essence, this means lobbying the EU institutions on a range of issues affecting both how solicitors practise (the establishment Directive, the draft services Directive, the money laundering Directives etc.) and on the advice that solicitors give to their clients (company law, civil law, employment law, tax law etc.). The office also acts as a contact point for solicitors established in Brussels with regard to practice rights questions.

BL: What does the office not do?

JO: The office cannot give legal advice - for that, you would need to contact a lawyer - nor can the office recommend a particular lawyer.

Anyone looking for an English solicitor by specialism, should do so via the solicitors online website. Anyone looking for a Belgian lawyer, should contact the Brussels Bar.

BL: What is the structure of the office?

JO: The office is headed by me, an English-qualified solicitor. Julia Bateman is the Justice and Home affairs policy advisor and Andrew Laidlaw is the Internal Market policy advisor. Laura Merzari is the office manager and Antonella Verde is the administrative assistant. The office has two trainee solicitors who are seconded from firms in the UK for a 6-month period.

BL: How should somone contact the office?

JO: If you have any issues/queries you would like to speak to somebody in the office about you can call 02 743 85 85 or e-mail: brussels@lawsociety.org.uk.

BL: Good luck.  Thank you for your time.