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‘Paris: a moveable feast’ – Stage International 2023
Philip Crowe at the Conseil d’État

19 Feb 2024 / law society Print

‘Paris: a moveable feast’: Stage International 2023

I was privileged to be selected by the Law Society EU and International Affairs Committee in May 2023 to represent the Law Society at the annual Stage International programme run by the Barreau de Paris.

The programme is run by the Barreau’s international-relations department in conjunction with the École de Formation du Barreau (EFB), the professional legal-education institution of the Barreau.

The Barreau is the largest bar in France, comprising 30,000 of the 70,000 avocats in the country.


I arrived in Paris at the beginning of October 2023 and settled into my accommodation for the duration of the Stage – the Irish Cultural Centre in the fifth arrondissement.

The class numbered roughly 20 young lawyers drawn from nearly as many countries.

The Stage is aimed at young foreign Francophone lawyers and, of the class, roughly half were ‘native’ Francophones, mostly from Francophone West Africa but also from Vietnam and from Belgium.

The remainder spoke French as a second language, learned during childhood, or at school or university. All but two of the class came from civil-law jurisdictions.

Our induction session comprised an overview of the course ahead, and an ice-breaker session where we each discussed the routes to qualification in our respective countries.

La Formation

This began the four-week ‘formation’ segment of the programme. Our time during this period was divided into:

  • In-class lectures and workshops at the EFB, and
  • Visits to legal institutions based in Paris.

The lectures and classes at the EFB followed a similar format to the PPC lectures in Blackhall Place, taught by local practitioners and expert lawyers in their fields.

At the outset, the classes were difficult to follow for the non-native Francophones, due to the speed and fluidity of the French language and the legal vocabulary. The comprehension issues, however, quickly dissipated.

Our classes over these four weeks covered, inter alia; organisation of the French legal system, civil procedure, arbitration, la déontologie (ethics), mediation/ADR, criminal procedure, IP law, and corporate/commercial law.

The in-class segment of the Stage concluded with a contested moot en Français, where we were each given a case that we had to either prosecute or defend opposite a class colleague.

This involved preparing a ten-minute ‘plaidoirie’ (pleading) and arguing in front of the tutors acting as judges. I prosecuted the fictional case of a woman accused of indecent exposure by way of a naked protest at a charcuterie festival in Strasbourg.

Visits to legal institutions

As well as the classes at the EFB, the Barreau facilitated visits to a range of local legal institutions.

These included: the Tribunal de Paris; the Palais de Justice/Cour d’Appel; the Conseil d’État; the Cour de Cassation; the law firm Gide Loyrette Nouel; the Paris Centre of Mediation and Arbitration; and the Tribunal de Commerce.

At the Tribunal de Paris, we attended the trial of two of Marine Le Pen’s bodyguards, who were being prosecuted for assaulting protestors at a rally in 2015.

It was a non-jury trial before a bench of three judges, and it was interesting to experience the ‘inquisitorial’ system of judicial inquiry.

La Période d’Immersion

During November, I worked on placement with the white-collar crime team of White and Case Paris.

While many avocats in the city still work as sole practitioners, or alongside one or two partners, Paris is home to large offices of many US, ‘Magic Circle’, and international firms, as well as large local French firms.

White and Case comprised a normal, full-service corporate offering, as you would find at an equivalent Dublin corporate firm. A key difference at large Parisian firms, however, is the presence of dedicated international-arbitration practice groups.

These groups are usually English speaking, staffed by foreign-trained or foreign-qualified lawyers, and work solely on international arbitrations under various rules and across the world.

Most large foreign and local firms in Paris possess a well-resourced international-arbitration team, and there are also many boutiques operating in this practice area.

As a member of the white-collar crime team, I worked on French litigation and regulatory matters through the French language; there was, however, some cross-jurisdictional overlap with Irish law on certain matters.

I also assisted the IP/IT litigation team and attended a hearing at the Cour d’Appel representing a global technology company in a civil-litigation matter.

It was at once challenging and enjoyable to work through French, although my command of French was especially tested when I was required to explain complex Irish, common-law concepts, such as Norwich Pharmacal Orders, through the French language.

Legal network

At the end of the two months, we attended a ceremony to mark the conclusion of the Stage and receive our certificates of completion.

This class is a fantastic legal network, both in Europe and globally, and many good friendships were made during the two months.

The Stage was an incredibly enriching experience for me at this early stage of my legal career, both professionally and personally.

I appreciate of the support provided by the committee, the Ambassade de France en Irlande, and A&L Goodbody, which facilitated me taking my place on the Stage.

Further, I am indebted to the Law Society for selecting me to represent our profession abroad, and grateful to Ross McMahon, Richard Kelly, and Megan Murphy Byrne for all their guidance throughout the process.

My experience can be best summed by a quote from fellow former resident of the fifth arrondissement, Ernest Hemingway, when he wrote of his Parisian life in the 1920s: “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

Philip Crowe is a solicitor with A&L Goodbody who was selected to participate in the Stage International programme in 2023

2024 applications

Application for this year’s Stage is now open.

The Irish participant will be selected by the EU & International Affairs Committee of the Law Society of Ireland. Candidates must:

  • Be qualified in Ireland and registered in the Law Society,
  • Have a good knowledge of French,
  • Be under 40 years old, and
  • Have insurance cover (for accidents and damages).

Tuition is fully covered by the Paris Bar; candidates must be willing to cover other expenses (travel, accommodation, meals).

To apply, send your CV and a letter explaining your interest in the Stage (in both English and French) to Megan Murphy Byrne (M.MurphyByrne@LawSociety.ie) no later than Friday 15 March 2024.

Philip Crowe
Philip Crowe
Philip Crowe is a solicitor at A&L Goodbody LLP