The Azeri word for 'lawyer' has been trademarked

The Azeri word for “lawyer” is one of several words and phrases recently trademarked by the Presidium of the Azerbaijan Bar Association.

The surprising move has been taken to battle unlawful usage of the term, according to the Bar Association’s official website. The press release seems to imply that a number of individuals and legal entities have been presenting themselves as lawyers and offering legal advice without the proper qualifications. “Such instances create obstacles to obtaining quality legal assistance for our citizens and other people, while having a negative impact on the credibility of the legal profession,” the press release states.

To combat such alleged instances of fraud, the Bar Association has trademarked a series of words and phrases related to the legal profession in English, Azeri, and Russian, including advocate, Azerbaijan Bar Association, vəkil, advokat, hüquq məsləhətxanası, Azərbaycan Vəkillər Kollegiyası, адвокат, and Коллегия Адвокатов Азербайджанской Республики.

The statement goes on to warn that the unauthorized use of trademarked expressions is a criminal offense. As of 1 April, the Bar Association will begin investigating instances of illegal usage of the trademarked terms and will take legal action against them.

On 31 October, Azerbaijan's parliament passed amendments to the legal code banning non-Bar lawyers and lay practitioners from representing clients in court. The changes went into effect 1 December 2017.

A group of lawyers launched a campaign against the new amendments while they were still being debated in parliament. In a brief, the group claimed that banning non-Bar lawyers and lay practitioners from representing clients in court will result in a “strong monopoly” of the “government-controlled” Bar Association, and a drastic decrease in the “number of available lawyers who can represent litigants before courts.”

According to the brief, there are about 900 Bar Association lawyers in Azerbaijan. That means that Azerbaijan has 9-10 lawyers per 100,000 inhabitants, as opposed to the European average of 165, over 16 times greater. Of those 900 Bar Association lawyers, only 200 work outside of Baku.

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