Italy packed with lawyers, but justice slow

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There are 375 lawyers per capita in Italy. Law photo: Shutterstock
14:03 CET+01:00
Should you ever need a lawyer in Italy, you’ll have little problem finding one. With 375 per 100,000 people, the country ranks joint second with Greece in a list of EU states with the most lawyers published on Monday.

That’s more than three times as many lawyers per capita than in the Netherlands and France, and six times as many as in Sweden and Finland, according to the European Commission’s 2015 justice scoreboard, which collated data from 2013.

The high number is because it used to be easy for people in Italy to qualify as lawyers, Paolo Zagami, the founder of Zagami law firm, which has its headquarters in Rome, told The Local.

“The government recognized this and in the last few years it’s become a lot more difficult to become a lawyer,” he added.

“So in that respect, I see the number going down."

Having plenty of experts on hand doesn’t mean to say the job gets done quickly: Italy’s judicial system is the third worst performer in the EU, after Malta and Cyprus, with civil and commercial cases taking an average 600 days to reach court.

And by the time cases have gone through the appeals process and reached a final decision in Italy's Court of Cassation, they can take more than five years to complete, Zigami said.

Luxembourg tops the list with 400 lawyers per 100,000 inhabitants, but the landlocked duchy also has the quickest judicial system, alongside Lithuania, with cases in both countries reaching court in less than 100 days.

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But there is some glimmer of hope for Italy: a revamp of the painfully sluggish judicial system is among premier Matteo Renzi's reforms, as part of a broader plan to revive the economy and attract investment.

In a tweet last July, Renzi described Italy's civil justice system as "uncivilized". 

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