Study Law in Germany: Become a “Rechtsanwalt”
September has come to an end, and as we all know, October is in Germany the month of new starts. The winter semester at all German universities is slowly beginning and while experienced students get back to college with a couple of preoccupations, young and fresh teenagers make their first step in a completely new world made of libraries, lecture halls, books, exams, degrees and new friendships.
How many of them, are approaching such a long path in order to work in the German legal structure as lawyers, attorneys, judges or notaries? According to the Website www.talentrocket.de (last access on the 29th of September 2020), the number of Law Students in Germany in the last years is almost a constant: around 100.000. What are they expecting? Whether it is representing the interest of a murderer trying to influence the judge´s decision in their favor or advising individuals, businesses, and government agencies on legal issues and disputes, and represent them in court and legal transactions, the path to become a “Rechtsanwalt” in Germany is really long and difficult.
How to become an attorney in Germany:
If you want to become an attorney, you will firstly have to complete a 9-semester study of law, which you will then complete with the first state examination (1. Staatsexamen). Afterwards, you will need to complete a 2-years legal clerkship (Referendariat), a kind of preparatory service, until the second state examination (2. Staatsexamen). Just after all these steps, you will be allowed to register with the respective bar association (Rechtsanwaltskammer) and finally receive the certificate of admission, also called in German “Anwaltszulassung”.
And this is so important that no lawyer would like to risk it for nothing in the world… or almost!
The tribunal decision of today’s review comes from the Berlin Bar Court and is the judgment of 25.03.2015 – II AGH 6/14.
In the underlying case, a lawyer was expelled in May 2014 by the local bar association. The reason was that the lawyer had a sideline as managing director of a real estate trading company. The attorney considered the withdrawal of admission to the bar to be inadmissible and therefore filed a lawsuit.
The Berlin Bar Court decided against the German Attorneys. The withdrawal of the attorney’s license to practice law was considered lawful according to § 14 (2) No. 8 of the Federal Lawyers’ Act. The activity as real estate agent is fundamentally incompatible with the legal profession. For this reason, there is a clear danger of a conflict of interests.
In the opinion of the Court of Attorneys, it had to be taken into account that in the exercise of their profession, attorneys obtain knowledge of the client’s money and real estate assets. In his second profession as an estate agent, an attorney could for instance earn money from the restructuring of the assets. On the other side, the revocation of the lawyer admission can be considered a measure unreasonable hardness, as declared by the attorney´s defense. Insofar as the attorney had claimed that he would lose his income as a result of the revocation, this did not represent unreasonable hardship. It was unfortunately well-known to the attorney for years that the bar association had objected the activity as a managing director of the real estate trading company and would take to the cause of a revocation of the admission. He will therefore have had to terminate his activity in order not to risk revocation.
It doesn´t matter which career you are pursuing, it is of fundamental importance to always be careful and seek for help, in case of legal uncertainties.