Introduction into the German law system - Professions of law

Possible careers in the German legal system are the professions of a judge, a public prosecutor, a lawyer, a notary and a court official (Rechtspfleger). Formal deliveries of documents and distraints are performed by the bailiff (Gerichtsvollzieher). The ensuring of the order in the courtroom and the custody of detainees is provided by court guards.

Judges, prosecutors and lawyers have an identical education. The university study of the jurisprudence in Germany lasts for a minimum of four years and is completed with the first state examination (Staatsexamen) or trainee exam (Referendarexamen). Juridical trainees have to perform a two-year traineeship, in which they have to take part in the practical work of different legal institutions belonging to all three branches of law – e.g. authorities, courts or lawyers. Certain parts of the traineeship can be performed in foreign countries worldwide under the condition that a qualified place of traineeship is available. The traineeship ends with the second state examination (Zweites Staatsexamen or Assessorexamen). With this exam the trainee obtains the title of an Assessor or qualified jurist (Volljurist) and achieves the possibility to work as a judge. This career requires an exam with top grades and free court positions. Most qualified jurists are taking career opportunities as lawyers or as legal advisers in companies.

Notaries must perform an additional education. The field of notary underlies severe legal restrictions in Germany. The number of notaries in an area or city is limited.

Court officials (Rechtspfleger) are employees of the courts and have certain judicial powers. Their competences are defined in the Court Official Code (Rechtspflegergesetz); they cover default summons, applications of insolvency or giving advice to citizens in the public advisory office of the court (which helps people with applications of all kind). The job of a court official requires a three-year education or three years of practical work as a civil servant in the judicial service plus an exam.

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