Legal clerkship

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As Rechtsreferendariat is in Germany of about two years (formerly three years) continuous preparation service after the first state examination (official name first test , also state examination called) referred to said second state examination (official designation second state examination ; colloquially or historical Assessorexamen , large State examination ) ends and with which the candidates obtain the qualification for judicial office ( § 5 Abs. 1 DRiG ). The qualification for the office of judge also qualifies for the position in the higher general (formerly non-technical) administrative service, as a public prosecutor , as a lawyer ( § 4 BRAO ) and as a notary ( § 5 BNotO ).

The legal traineeship is thus part of the training to become a fully qualified lawyer . The candidate usually has the title of legal trainee ( Ref. Iur. Or Ref. Jur. In lists also RRef). The legal trainee is a civil servant on revocation. Thuringia was the last federal state to amend its lawyer training law in March 2016. From 2016 to 2018, trainee lawyers were in a public law apprenticeship of their own in all federal states . In summer 2018, the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania changed its recruitment practice again and is now hiring trainee lawyers again as civil servants on revocation. Legal trainees have also been hired as civil servants in Hesse since 2020. The lawyer who has passed the second state examination bears the professional title " Rechtsassessor " (Ass. Iur. Or Ass. Jur.). Colloquially they are referred to as fully qualified lawyers.

On January 1, 2015, there were around 14,000 trainee lawyers in Germany; at the turn of the millennium there were around 25,000.


The trainee lawyer has completed his legal studies (colloquially also called law studies) at a university with the first examination (formerly the state examination) and is a lawyer . In a few federal states, the professional title “ trainee lawyer” or “legal trainee lawyer” is also awarded as a title that is not tied to the completion of a legal clerkship . Many universities award the academic degrees of Diplom-Jurist or Magister juris after the First Legal Examination (at the same time university final examination) , which, for example, are sufficient for a job as an employed legal advisor . In order to be accepted into the legal preparatory service, you need your own application (with some forms and the certificate of the first examination and a certificate of good conduct of document type O).

Course of the legal traineeship

The legal clerkship is divided into four compulsory stations and at least one (several possible) elective stations, in which the legal trainee for several months in different areas of law (at a regular court in civil matters , at a public prosecutor's office or a court in criminal matters , at an administrative authority and at a lawyer) is practically trained. Service law the trainee is to a Oberlandesgericht (OLG) is assigned (in Berlin the chamber court ), in whose area usually a district court as a regular service is determined, the respective individual trainers is assigned from which he.

The first station in most federal states is the civil station , which usually has to be completed at a local court or regional court and begins with a two to four-week introductory course (depending on the state). This is followed by the punishment ward . This has to be done at a public prosecutor's office or a criminal court . After the punishment station, the administrative station follows in almost all federal states . Depending on the federal state, this can be completed at an administrative court , an authority (e.g. regional council , district administration , school authority ) or as a supplementary course at the German University of Administrative Sciences Speyer .

Then comes the lawyer station . In some countries, such as Baden-Württemberg , the lawyer station is divided into two parts; then the first part of the attorney's station must be completed before the administration station and the second part after the administration station. Finally comes the elective station . Here the trainee lawyer has the largest selection of training facilities and also has the option of building a stay abroad. In some federal states (such as Rhineland-Palatinate ), a certain optional (compulsory) subject is linked to the elective station. In some countries no vacation is granted during the first two stations, so vacation planning must be well organized before the start of the legal traineeship.

In addition to this, in most countries at the regional court (depending on the station also in an administrative authority, another court or other authorities) there are working groups in the fields of civil, criminal and administrative law, in which the theoretical knowledge of the individual procedural rules is imparted and at the same time Knowledge from the course is deepened. In addition, the writing of exams (notices of objection, lawsuits, judgments, etc.) and holding of files (factual report and decision proposal) for the exam are practiced.

The legal clerkship ends with the passing of the second state examination . In most federal states, this consists of eight ( eleven in Bavaria and nine in Saxony ) five-hour exams, which are written at the end of the lawyer’s station. After the elective station, there is an oral exam in which civil, criminal and administrative law are examined. In most countries, an optional (compulsory) subject is an additional component of the oral examination. In almost all federal states (except Bavaria), this begins with a file presentation, which, depending on the federal state, has a subject from the elective (compulsory) subject or from one of the compulsory subject areas.

Special activities

According to Section 10 , Section 142 (3) of the GVG ( Courts Constitution Act ), trainee lawyers may be entrusted with certain tasks to be carried out under the supervision of a judge or public prosecutor (for example, representing the public prosecutor at the main hearing in criminal matters or directing the taking of evidence at the civil court). Likewise, the legal trainee assigned to a lawyer can attend court appointments at a local court with a sub-power of attorney in civil matters in accordance with § 157 ZPO .

Pursuant to Section 139 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, a trainee lawyer can be assigned the defense of a lawyer who has been elected as defense counsel with the consent of the person who has elected him if he has been working as a trainee lawyer for at least one year and three months.

Preparatory service in other EU countries

Similar training programs exist in other member states of the European Union . Unlike in Germany, in many of these countries young lawyers are specifically prepared for a specific area of ​​legal activity.

In France, for example, future lawyers have a different training period than future judges. A French trainee lawyer has the title "élève-avocat" .

Austria knows as a prerequisite for further after completion of the law degree career in the classic legal profession judge , prosecutor, notary and lawyer , the court practice . For those who want to pursue a career as a judge or public prosecutor, the judicial preparatory service follows the judicial practice, in which one uses the designation "Judge Trainee (RiAA)" . Lawyers preparing for the bar exam are referred to as "trainee lawyers (RAA)" or informally as "trainee lawyers ".

Liechtenstein has similar regulations to Austria, but there are no notaries and no preparatory service for the judge's office or work for the public prosecutor's office. The trainees at lawyers are divided into authorized representatives and authorized substitutes (similarly, there are small and large certificates of legitimation in Austria).

Reform efforts

From the beginning of the 1970s to the mid-1980s, the one-stage legal training was opened as an alternative , which was based on Section 5b DRiG old version, but ended with the Third Act amending the German Judiciary Act. In Germany, people are constantly thinking about giving up the previous so-called standard training in favor of branch training. This demand is made particularly by the German Lawyers' Association , but representatives of other professional groups such as the judiciary and state politics have also joined the desire for a reform of the legal clerkship. In addition, there is the conversion of the degree to the master's and bachelor's degrees with a view to the Bologna process .

The lack of specialization of the clerkship in a single occupation means that only a comparatively short training period is provided for the profession actually exercised later, given the limitation of the clerkship to two years. For example, the training period in the public prosecutor's office is only three months in many federal states. The lawyer station lasts ten months in many countries, but in view of the second state examination following this station in many countries, the focus of the trainee lawyers is usually on exam preparation, so that there is not so much time left for practical training.

The problem with the previous training continues to be that the second state legal examination formally opens up access to all legal professions, but in practice only graduates with a clearly above-average examination grade are employed in the civil service and in private companies. This means that less powerful graduates often only have a job as a lawyer as a professional alternative. On the one hand, this leads to high competition on the legal market and, on the other hand, to considerable differences in qualifications within the legal profession, which makes it difficult to select the right lawyer for the client seeking law. In many other countries, on the other hand, only those university graduates who can provide evidence of a training position with a lawyer are admitted to training as a lawyer, so that the problem of "flooding" the lawyer market is less serious there.

Despite this criticism of the previous legal training, the legal traineeship in its current form is also considered useful by many representatives of various professional groups. In particular, the ability to put oneself in the shoes of other professions with partly conflicting interests is seen as the key to successful work in the profession that is actually practiced later. So the trainee lawyer at a civil court is forced to put himself in the position of the judge and thus work out the facts from the lawyers' pleadings. This experience makes sense if the trainee lawyer later works as a lawyer, as he will then process a brief sent to the court in such a way that the judge can quickly grasp it. The same applies to a lawyer who works as a criminal defense attorney. Through his experience in the public prosecutor's office in the legal clerkship, he learns, for example, which tactical considerations will be useful when communicating with the public prosecutor.

These points are partially recognized by the critics of the traineeship so that it is not yet foreseeable whether and when there will be a fundamental reform of the German legal education.


  • German Lawyers Association : The DAV lawyer training. Volume 1: DAV training manual. The practical training. Deutscher Anwaltverlag, Bonn 2005, ISBN 3-8240-0748-7 .
  • Thorsten Vehslage, Stefanie Bergmann, Svenia Kähler, Matthias Zabel: Legal clerkship and career entry . Stations - Opportunities - Application (= series of the legal training. Vol. 162 Legal clerkship ). 2nd, expanded edition. Beck, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-406-54854-3 .
  • Walter Frenz, Hendrik JC Wübbenhorst: The legal preparatory service in European recognition law. In: New legal weekly . Vol. 64, No. 39, 2011, S, 2849-2851.

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Legal clerkship in MV. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Ministry of Justice, 2018, accessed on December 23, 2018 .
  2. Markus Lembeck: Legal clerkship: Hessen returns to civil servant status. May 28, 2019, accessed July 11, 2020 .
  3. ^ Matthias Kilian: Change in the legal labor market - change in legal training? In: Lawyer Gazette . No. 10 , 2016, p. 698-705 (699) .
  4. ^ Juris GmbH: Landesrecht BW JAPrO | State standard Baden-Württemberg | Complete edition | Ordinance of the Ministry of Justice on the training and examination of lawyers (legal training and examination regulations - JAPrO) of October 8, 2002 | valid from: 01.10.2002. Retrieved March 11, 2017 .
  5. Thorsten Vehslage: Appointments representation for lawyers by trainee lawyers . In: Journal for the Legal Practice . 1999, p. 647-650 .