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Foreign lawyers in Poland have hired a PR firm to lobby the government to let them stay in business in the wake of a threat from local lawyers.

The two branches of the Polish legal profession are proposing a law change which would effectively send foreign law firms home.

In response to a request from the Polish ministry of justice for a new law regulating the legal profession, the Council of Legal Advisers and the Advocate Bar are proposing to a parliamentary committee that foreign law firms should not be able to hire Polish lawyers.

All the foreign firms in Poland employ Polish lawyers, and the proposed legislation would force them to sell the Polish parts of their practice. Most would not continue without Polish qualified lawyers.

David Shone, partner at Nabarro Nathanson's Warsaw office, said: “The vast majority of Polish lawyers practise in small towns on a small scale and cannot understand why Poland needs foreign lawyers.”

Witold Pasek, of MP Agency, the PR firm hired by the lawyers, said: “In the next two or three weeks, representatives of foreign law firms will be meeting the ministry of justice and prominent members of parliament to put their case.

“Our problem is not to persuade them not to ban foreign firms but to persuade them that there is a danger it could happen. They are not aware of this.”

Shone added that the ministry “is more liberal on foreign law firms than Polish lawyers”.

The ministry hopes the proposed legislation will unify the two legal professions. “The problem is the only group the two Polish lawyers groups hate more than each other is foreign lawyers,” said Shone. “The ministry is threatening that if they cannot agree it will knock their heads together and write a draft of its own. That would be good from our point of view.”