the Conference of Lawyers of the Paris Bar, an elite club for young criminal lawyers

By Florian Mestres

Published on November 18, 2021 at 07:00 – Updated on November 18, 2021 at 15:13

They belong to a very old, prestigious club with restricted access. To be admitted to it is the assurance of leapfrogging the stages of a career. In this cenacle that the general public ignores, we dine with ministers or with “stars” of the law. Journalists, politicians, actors and comedians are invited to debates. Salvatore Dali, Fabrice Luchini, Nicolas Sarkozy, Plantu, or Catherine Deneuve, among others, were among their guests of honor. This club is the Conference of Lawyers of the Paris Bar.

Created in 1818, “the Conference” brings together twelve young lawyers, called “secretaries”, appointed for one year and who provide emergency criminal defense in sensitive cases. They are chosen by their peers after a three-round eloquence contest. In 2021, around 230 candidates were registered in the first round. All lawyers under 35 who have taken the oath can participate, even if a certain flexibility on the age limit can be granted and no pre-selection is organized at the entrance.

Priceless visibility

For an entire year, the twelve elected speakers benefit from several prerogatives. First, they enjoy a monopoly in the event of a criminal investigation in Paris. “If there is a murder, an assassination or an organized crime in Paris, for example. We will be present during the examination, explains Chloé Redon, current eighth secretary – each secretary has a number to which a particular function is attached – in charge of communication. For the rest of the investigation, we will be automatically appointed if the client wishes a lawyer assigned to it. These young lawyers also have a monopoly on the investigation of financial affairs, immediate appearances for dismissal and police custody in criminal matters.

Maître Paul Nafilyan faces the twelve secretaries of the conference and the President of the Bar of Paris, Olivier Cousi, on November 15, 2021, during the 3rd round of the eloquence competition organized in the library of the order, at the Palais de justice de l' City Island.

But being chosen from the circle of the Twelve is above all a decisive professional opportunity in the careers of these penalists. “I had no network. No one around me worked in law, testifies Chloé Redon. It was the only way for me to start building a clientele. I was able to install myself. ” In this place highly competitive, the Conference offers invaluable visibility. I will always be attentive to a past as secretary of the Conference if I have to recruit collaborators », confides the penalist Jean-Yves Le Borgne, himself elected secretary in 1977.

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