The cultural kaleidoscope of law: experiences from the 2023 internship programme

Teilnehmende des Hospitationsprogramms.
Teilnehmende des Hospitationsprogramms.

In the complex world of law, the theoretical penetration of the individual specialist areas is usually the beginning, but certainly not the end of academic training and professional development.

In addition to the theoretical understanding of this world, it also requires attentive familiarisation with practice, which is known to have its own laws, nuances and also deviations, which practitioners can rely on after a few years of application.

In addition to the international legal context and comparative law, there is also the factor of different legal traditions and cultures, which can exude its very own fascination. After around thirty years of existence, IRZ's multilateral internship programme for lawyers, which is co-organised and co-financed by the German Federal Bar and the German Bar Association, can already look back on a rich history as a networking platform and exchange of ideas for the European legal profession. In the kaleidoscope of cultural legal practices, it often only takes a small shift to gain a completely new perspective that can be profitably incorporated into one's own work.

From 27 August to 28 September 2023, the time had come again: interested lawyers from eleven different countries travelled to Germany to gain an in-depth insight into German legal practice. In addition to the academic debate and familiarisation with selected areas of law, the particular benefit of this successful format lies above all in the many opportunities for personal and intercultural exchange. Collegial dialogue was not neglected this year either.

As a special feature in 2023, the introductory week did not take place in Bonn, but in Berlin, where the German Federal Bar and the German Bar Association made their premises available. Representatives of the German Federal Bar and the German Bar Association, as well as practising lawyers, gave the participants an insight into topics such as the legal profession, self-administration by lawyers, contract and company law, international arbitration, family law, complaints proceedings before the ECtHR and the impact of ECtHR judgements on national legal systems.

Highlights of the programme included visits to the Reichstag and the Berlin Regional Court, which were accompanied by expert discussions with representatives of the institutions and provided informative insights. In addition to the intensive programme of the introductory week, there were of course also many opportunities for good conversations and social gatherings during the free time.

The interns then went to their chosen wards. For three weeks, they had the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the law firm and court practice of the German partners. The interns were able to gain in-depth and fruitful experience, attend court and client meetings and exchange ideas with their German colleagues – not least because of the long-term embedding in day-to-day operations compared to traditional work shadowing.

Accordingly, there was a lot to talk about at the new meeting. As part of the evaluation seminar, the participants reflected on what they had experienced. The work shadowing programme was also evaluated on a methodological level.

The feedback was very positive, with the participants emphasising the productive and beneficial knowledge transfer both in the introductory seminar and in the stations, in addition to the contacts made and the multilateral exchange. The didactic approach of combining a mixture of practical and theoretical elements was once again praised by the participants, as this makes it much easier to transfer knowledge elements to their own area of work. The expert discussions also showed that the ‘hands-on mentality’ of the work shadowing programme is bearing fruit.

A joint dinner rounded off the visit to Germany, which allowed us to summarise the message: After an extremely successful 2023, the work shadowing programme remains on course to continue networking international legal practice and cultivating legal-cultural exchange in the coming anniversary year!

Online seminar for lawyers from the Middle East on citizenship law


The IRZ organised an online seminar for lawyers from the Middle East on 18 September 2023 to discuss “Citizenship law and naturalisation procedures” which was funded by the Federal Ministry of Justice within the framework of the institutional subsidy.

The online seminar was the second part of a two-day series of seminars on this topic, the first of which was held in April 2023 on “Administrative and administrative court procedure law”.

Ms. Aisha Irshad, a lawyer for migration law, took part in the seminar on behalf of the IRZ, and presented the basics of citizenship law and naturalisation procedures.

  • These included, among others: naturalisation in accordance with § 8 StAG (German Nationality Act)
  • Entitlement to naturalisation in accordance with § 10 StAG
  • Conditions for application in accordance with §§ 8-10 StAG
  • Planned naturalisation reform

The complex subject matter and theoretical explanations were illustrated using practical case studies.

The discussions concentrated on migration law such as citizenship, residence and asylum law, general administrative law and administrative procedural law which are particularly relevant to the participants, and the seminar was designed to focus specifically on these subject areas. The lawyers should then, where possible, apply the knowledge they acquired in their professional practice and therefore expand their opportunities on the job market.

24 participants from, among others, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain attended the event. The group included people who had completed a law degree in their own countries, and were working in the legal professions, and those who had studied at German universities or completed a master’s degree (LL.M).

They used the opportunity to explore expert questions and clearly demonstrated their great interest in the topic. The participants asked many questions, particularly with regard to the ability to support themselves as a prerequisite for naturalisation. However, special cases were also discussed, such as the naturalisation of persons who are stateless. To close, Ms. Irshad explained the planned changes within the scope of the naturalisation reform, which is due to enter into force in 2024.

The IRZ is also planning to hold events on this theme next year, owing to the high demand for legal issues around migration. 

Five-day course for lawyers from the Middle East in Berlin

Participants on the five-day course for lawyers from the Middle East in Berlin.
Participants on the five-day course for lawyers from the Middle East in Berlin.

The IRZ welcomed 16 lawyers from the Middle East region to Berlin from 31 July to 4 August 2023. The five-day event was part of the funding program for the sustainable support of young lawyers from the Middle East and was financed by the Federal Ministry of Justice.

The participants came from Iran, Egypt, Bahrain and Syria. Some had completed their legal studies in their home country and had already worked in legal advisory professions in their respective countries. Others had studied at a German university and completed a master's degree (LL.M). 

The priorities were state organisational law and the basic principles of a functioning constitutional state, labour law and residence and asylum law. The participants also received important information about soft skills for lawyers and legal argumentation skills. The group also visited the German Bundestag and held an expert talk with a speaker from the office of a member of parliament.

The following experts took part in the course from the IRZ:

  • Annette Krause, lawyer in labour law
  • Inga Matthes, fully qualified lawyer
  • Arnd Weishaupt, presiding judge at the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court
  • Uwe Stark, judge at the Siegen Local Court
  • Ursula Groos, lawyer and mediator
  • Karola Roßmy, qualified psychologist

In addition to the expert lectures, this year focused in particular on professional

orientation. The IRZ organised an expert talk with the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees and the Federal Ministry of Justice, and discussed potential career opportunities for the participants. In addition, the participants took part in an application training and received individual feedback on their CVs from the expert, Ms. Roßmy.

The positive response has prompted the IRZ to plan to invite a group of lawyers from the Middle East to Berlin again next year. This training concept also includes the internship program, which will take place this year from September to December 2023.