The traditional role of a criminal defence lawyer as (primarily) a trial advocate is challenged by the contemporary developments in the European systems of criminal procedure. Due to the shifting focus of the criminal proceedings to the pre-trial or investigative stages, lawyers are increasingly expected to exercise ‘active defence’ from the earliest moments of the proceedings. These developments have become embedded in the national and European laws on criminal procedure, and they constitute the new work reality for European criminal defence lawyers. This study sought to shed light onto the question of whether – and how – the new, extended role that defence lawyers are expected to play at the investigative stage of the proceedings is realised, or is ‘realisable’, in practice.