The Lille Bar

The History of the Bar

From its beginnings to the Revolution

Lawyers in Lille since the 11th century

Lawyers first appear in Lille in the 11th century. During the following century, or perhaps at the start of the 13th century, the Echevinage is established, made up of elected magistrates whose dual responsibilities are to govern the city and dispense justice. In 1235 the Echevinage, which would become the most important jurisdiction in Lille based on the number of disputes, receives its Charter from Joan, Countess of Flanders.

1715: Start of the bar's independence

In 1715, the Parliament of Flanders, sitting at Douai (after being instituted at Tournai, then Cambrai), accepts that the legal "Community" should have the right to choose a President of the Bar or Dean, the right to draw up the Bar roll, issue regulations and even the right to pass disciplinary sentences.

This is the beginning of the independence of the Bar. Lawyers who want to exercise their profession in Lille, swear their oath before the Parliament and then present themselves before the Bailiwick, the royal court installed at Lille, to be registered in the roll. At least, this is the rule... which would not always be respected. For a time, Lille Lawyers are able to register in two rolls, at Douai and at Lille, but in 1824 the Court of Appeal (new name for the former Parliament) would forbid this practice. In 1789, the Lille roll of Lawyers comprises 44 names.

Under the Revolution and the Consulate

This era is distinguished by :

  • The demolition of important buildings;
  • The separation of administrative and judicial functions and the institution of new jurisdictions

From one Empire to the next

After the Bar is re-established in1810, law courts are built on Quai de la Basse Deûle in 1839, at the site where the castle of La Salle and the St. Pierre college used to stand.

From 1871 to 1945

The entry of women to the Lawyer's profession:

On 2 February 1914, a Miss Demarez swears her oath before the Douai Court of Appeal.
But because of the imminent outbreak of World War I, no trace of her is subsequently found on any bar roll in the jurisdiction of the Court.
It is therefore only after the end of hostilities on 17 November 1920, that a new applicant, Adrienne Gobert, presents herself and goes on to enter the Lille Bar... However, she would never practise as a Lawyer.
The inhabitants of Lille therefore generally consider that their first female colleague was Marie-Louise Vautrin, who, several years after her registration, would marry a male colleague and become Mrs Kah.

The Lille Bar was considerably affected by World War I:

Judicial activity was almost inexistent.
In 1921, the almost completely reconstituted Bar included 116 lawyerss, of whom 36 were trainees, representing a decrease from 136 in 1912.

World War II:

World War II brings enlistment and then captivity for a certain number of lawyers.

Since 1945, or fifty years of change

A new profession is forged through various reforms:
An increase in the length of university studies (the four-year Master's degree replaces the three-year Bachelor's degree), the requirement for a certificate of competence for the legal profession, the establishment of a School for student lawyers and a professional training centre within the Lille Faculty of Law.

The institution of specialities.

1971: The professions of lawyer, solicitor and attorney are merged:

1991: Merger with legal counsellors: 99 of these register at the Lille Bar.

The appearance of professional civil companies on the one hand favours group work, on the other,it is the heritage of law firms.

The Bar leaves the law courts

The Lille Bar takes the necessary measures to respond to the need to "communicate" – which is becoming more and more pressing – and to state that lawyers are not just litigators. In 1982, a House for Lawyers is bought in Rue d'Angleterre and inaugurated in 1984 after the necessary work is completed.
An arbitration Court, the CAREN, is set up in 1989 with the support of the Chambers of Commerce and other professions.

In 1995, the Lille Bar, together with the Chambers of Commerce and all the legal and accounting professional organisations, establishes an association called Lille Place Juridique, responsible for promoting the region's legal expertise in order to increase its influence at European level.

New law courts

Starting in 1960 new law courts are built on the site of the 1839 Courts, which are simply demolished together with the four (disused) former prisons that used to surround it. It is not until January 1969 that the new premises would be occupied.