Multilateral – annual report 2022

Participants in the internship programme for lawyers programme during the introductory seminar in Königswinter.
Participants in the internship programme for lawyers programme during the introductory seminar in Königswinter.

Overall Concept

It is pleasing to note that IRZ was again able to implement a number of multilateral programmes during the reporting year. These formats are guided by the principle that practitioners from different areas of the legal profession should, in a spirit of equality, exchange views on professional and reform topics with colleagues from other countries and in doing so acquire inspiration both for themselves and for their legal system at home. Insight into legal and judicial practice in Germany is a particularly relevant factor in the internship programmes. They are intended to move beyond a merely theoretical transfer of knowledge and enable participants to experience aspects such as the management of court proceedings, the relationship and communication between the parties involved in the process or the enforcement of new legal norms in Germany. Another objective of all formats is to establish lasting international networks, both for the individual target groups and often beyond professional boundaries themselves. The host institutions and law firms in Germany can therefore also benefit from this process, as they acquire firm contacts in numerous countries by welcoming guest practitioners. In order to reach participants without any command of the German language, IRZ has, for a number of years, offered some programmes in the transfer languages English and French, although they are adapted in terms of their organisational structure.

IRZ has also been running a special “Middle East” internship programme since 2016. This involves the organisation of various multilateral training programmes to promote the idea of the rule of law among lawyers from the Middle East region who are resident in Germany, as well as their understanding of legal contexts. Some of the participants are graduates of law in their home countries and worked there as lawyers. Others have completed a master’s (LL.M.) at a German university. The aims of this special further training programme are to build networks between young lawyers and to enable internal and external exchange on various legal issues. In addition, it is intended to contribute to integrating legal professionals in their social and vocational environments. This should enable the (potential) future decision-makers to use the knowledge they have acquired to strengthen the rule of law in the event that they return to their home countries. The further training programme consists of several components (training courses in key competences for lawyers, language courses on legal terminology, online exchanges, practical elements and internships) on specialised legal topics.

Events in 2022

Practice-oriented training for English-speaking notaries and ­notary candidates

Since 2018 IRZ is organising in cooperation with the Federal Chamber of Notaries a multilateral, practice-oriented training course for English-speaking notaries and notary candidates every two years, alternating with the notarial internship programme in German language. Unfortunately, the second year had to be cancelled in both 2020 and 2021 (alternative date) for pandemic-related reasons. This year’s event was held as planned in face-to-face format from 24 to 31 July 2022.

The programme focused on the role of the notary in non-contentious administration of justice in Germany, on how candidates are appointed notaries and on questions of professional representation at national and international level. Topics like real estate law, family and inheritance law and company law in the notarial practice were discussed and the benefits and challenges of digitalising the notary´s office were intensively debated. In addition to the lectures and discussions, the participants had the opportunity on one afternoon to visit a notary’s office in Bonn and to exchange views on issues such as office organisation.

The event was attended by seven notaries and two notary candidates from Georgia, Kazakhstan, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey and Uzbekistan. ­Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are the most recent members of the Inter­national Union of Notaries after joining in 2021.

The guests were very open to the multilateral exchange with their colleagues, showed great interest in the wide range of topics and were motivated and committed throughout the discussions. Feedback was uniformly positive, and both the organisers and guests will look back on this week as a highly inspirational experience in every sense.

Internship programme for lawyers

This programme, which was launched in 1993 with five participants from Bulgaria at the time, has passed the mark of 500 lawyers from 25 countries when it was held this year. From 23 August to 29 September 2022, nine participants from nine different countries stayed first in Königswinter and then moved to various German cities where they gained in-depth insight into the law firm routines and court practice of their German colleagues. The programme has a practical phase lasting over three weeks. This comparatively extended period enables the intern lawyers to deal more intensively with individual and even complex proceedings as well as to attend various court hearings and meetings with clients. In addition the supervising law firms have the opportunity to discuss legal issues and matters of professional law with their interns.

Preceding the practical phase was an intensive introductory week during which, in addition to five representatives from the German Federal Bar and the German Bar Association, eight practising lawyers provided an overview of the system of self-regulation for lawyers and professional law as well as current developments and professional practice in key areas of commercial and civil law. Participants in this year’s course again perceived the combination of demanding but highly practical professional information as extremely instructive and effective as a basis for the subsequent internship in the law firms.

Internship programme for French-speaking legal practitioners from the Maghreb – practical phase

Planned in two phases, a pilot project was launched in 2019 for the French-speaking target group of legal practitioners from the Maghreb countries.

The first phase took place in Hammamet, Tunisia, in September 2019. In total, 30 administrative, civil and commercial judges, notaries and lawyers from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia took part in a one-week introductory seminar, which conveyed basic principles of the German legal system as well as important professional aspects for the four professional groups.

One person was selected from each country and professional group to take part in the second phase, which consisted of a one-week internship in Germany.

This practical phase was finally held from 16 to 25 September 2022, after a two-year interruption for pandemic-related reasons. The three administrative judges completed their internship at the Berlin Administrative Court, the two civil judges from Morocco and Tunisia at the Lübeck Local and Regional Court, the three notaries in a notary’s office in Landau in the Palatinate region and in a notary’s office in Memmingen, and the three lawyers in a law firm with offices in Stuttgart (two participants) and Berlin, among other places.

Feedback from the participants in all professional groups, as well as from their supervisors, was extremely positive. With great commitment the German colleagues organised a varied programme that invited participants to an intensive exchange and that offered numerous opportunities to make new professional contacts. The participants welcomed these opportunities gratefully and enthusiastically. Furthermore, the participants engaged in lively discussions on similarities and differences in legal practice in their North African countries, which even continued across professional groups at the evaluation event in Bonn.

Internship programme for English-speaking civil and commercial judges

IRZ has cooperated with the German Association of Judges and the state judicial administrations to organise an annual internship programme for English-speaking civil and commercial judges since 2016.

For pandemic-related reasons the 5th year could take place in the reporting year from 8 to 22 November 2022. Eight judges from Albania, Armenia, Georgia, Jordan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan attended the programme in total.

Following a three-day introductory seminar on German civil law, civil procedural law and law of judges in Königswinter, the guests travelled to their respective internship locations, where they completed the one-week practical phase in small groups (two to three persons each).

This gave the opportunity to become familiar with the tasks and responsibilities of the respective court, to participate in numerous hearings (incl. pre- and post-trial discussions), to hold technical discussions with their German colleagues on specific issues and also to socialise with them. An attractive cultural programme added the finishing touches to the week. The judges used the final evaluation seminar in Bonn to express how inspired they had been by this opportunity to engage in such intense professional discussions with their German colleagues – both during the introductory seminar and the internship phase – which gave them a more profound understanding of the German judiciary. They all expressed the opinion that the programme had exceeded their expectations.

Internship programme for German-speaking criminal law judges, civil and commercial judges and for German-speaking public prosecutors

The internship programme for judges with a good knowledge of German was launched in 1995 in cooperation with the German Association of Judges and the state judicial administrations; it has been run as a joint programme for German-speaking criminal law judges, civil and commercial judges and German-speaking public prosecutors since 2016.

This programme was also affected by a pandemic-related interruption, so that it had been hoped for a long time, that the programme would be carried out between 15 November and 2 December 2022. The group of twelve participants consisted of four criminal law judges, three public prosecutors and five civil judges. They came from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Moldova, Romania and the Czech Republic.

During the three-day introductory part, the participants were given an overview of the position of judges and public prosecutors in Germany, the course of criminal and civil proceedings (also from the perspective of European cooperation) and on how case-law from the Supreme Court and the European Court of Justice influences decisions by the courts. The eight-day internship phase gave them the opportunity, depending on their professional field, to get to know the tasks and working methods of the courts and public prosecutor’s offices, to take part in hearings and sessions and to discuss legal issues with their German colleagues.

The interns used the joint evaluation to express their great satisfaction with the insight they received into the German judiciary. Professional exchange with the German colleagues, above all with the supervisors who often doubled as hosts at the internship locations, was viewed as ­extremely enriching. Participants were therefore able to return to their home countries with a lot of stimulating ideas for their own work.

Priority “Middle East further training programme”

7th training programme for lawyers from the Middle East region

IRZ held the 7th training programme for 16 lawyers from the Middle East from 4 to 8 July 2022 in Berlin. The event provided participants with new insights into the basic principles of a functioning constitutional state, the Geneva Convention on Refugees, the legislative process, the basics of asylum and individual labour law. Moreover, the participants had the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of various areas of law and procedures in Germany – also in the form of highly practical case studies on issues such as residence permits, time limits, toleration, family reunification and admission to the job market.

Another important concern was to teach the soft skills and key qualifications that are indispensable for those working in the legal profession. This aspect was used to convey the importance of social skills, persuasive lines of argument and body language when working in the area of law. Teaching on subjects such as “efficient work” and “time and self-management” rounded off the programme for this event.  Practical situations faced by lawyers in their daily work were also taken into account. In addition to the technical lectures, the participants were also able to conduct an expert talk on the legislative procedure at the Federal Ministry of Justice.

Internship for lawyers from the Middle East region

The opportunity for participants to complete an internship is another important part of this training programme. In 2022, eight selected jurists from the Middle East were able to intern in law firms. This gave them the opportunity to gain insight into the practical work of a law firm and to widen their networks. The two-week internships took place between August and October 2022 in law firms specialising in asylum, labour and commercial law. These topics have been chosen in consultation with the participants, as they are relevant to their professional fields.

Group language course on legal terminology for jurists from the Middle East region

Eleven legal professionals took part in a language course on legal terminology in Bonn from 10 to 14 October 2022. The aim was to improve the participants’ language skills in the area of law. The language course provided participants with some insight into German civil, criminal and public law. During the course, the participants mainly dealt with the basic terminology and principles in these legal areas and engaged in lively discussions with practical examples to clarify misunderstandings of technical terms. Alongside increasing their vocabularies and knowledge, group participants also acquired a greater awareness for legal wordings and how they are used in practice. In addition, the participants prepared examples of various legal documents (e.g. indictment, complaint, defence, plea, order and judgement) and memorised their designations, forms and structures. All of the participants rated the knowledge they acquired as extremely helpful for their professional development.

Online event on individual labour law for lawyers from the ­Middle East region

In addition to the face-to-face event, IRZ also organised an online format on individual labour law for jurists from the Middle East region. Participants were taught relevant knowledge relating to individual labour law. Questions were discussed using practical case studies. The transfer of knowledge on these topics is highly relevant to their professional work and their social lives. The skills they learned will be of long-term benefit in a personal and professional context. Moreover, the participants act as multipliers and pass on the knowledge they acquired to other key actors.

All events were financed with funds from the Federal Ministry of Justice.

Please find the Annual Report 2022 here: Media centre – Annual reports.

Multilateral – annual report 2020

Overall Concept 

Multilateral events such as conferences, summer schools and especially internship programmes are an important part of IRZ’s work.

They offer legal practitioners from the judiciary or the free legal professions a forum for professional exchange with German colleagues. Participants can use these opportunities to discuss current legal questions or problems in coping with everyday professional life. By contrast, summer schools and similar multilateral training formats enable young lawyers to engage with other legal systems and with European rule-of-law standards.

Another objective of these formats is to encourage the formation of lasting international networks among the individual audiences. The programmes make a significant contribution in this regard.

Hosting some of the programmes that are traditionally held in German in the transfer languages of English and French reaches virtually all of the IRZ partner states in this context. Regrettably, most of these events – with the exception of the internship programme for Arabic-speaking refugee lawyers – had to be cancelled due to the pandemic.

They were replaced with smaller, more practical further training events organised in a virtual format. However, these formats were able to meet the objectives to a limited extent only, especially in the classic internship programmes. This applies all the more to providing direct insight into everyday work practice in German legal professions, for instance the organisation of notaries’ offices or law firms or the procedural processes and atmosphere during hearings at German courts. IRZ is therefore determined, if possible, to return to the traditional formats in the year ahead, as soon as the general circumstances permit. Online formats will otherwise be offered in some cases.

Events in 2020 

Fifth seminar for Arabic-speaking refugee lawyers 

IRZ organised the seminar “Introduction to German Law” for Arabic-speaking refugee lawyers from Syria and Iraq from 13 to 17 July 2020 for the fifth successive year. The seminar is intended for persons who have completed their legal studies or have already acquired professional experience as lawyers in their home countries of Syria or Iraq. The programme was expanded to include 30 participants in 2020. Basic principles of the German legal system were taught over the course of five working days. The thematic priorities of the event were on state organisation law, fundamental rights, the German court system, basics of German asylum and residence law, as well as basics and case studies from criminal and criminal procedure law and civil and civil procedure law.

In addition to these lectures and discussions, the seminar included a working visit to the Bonn Regional Court followed by attendance of a court hearing. Moreover, a representative from the Department of Law at the University of Bonn led a discussion with the participants and informed them about study opportunities for foreign students.

The seminar focused on presenting case studies that illustrate German legal practice, relate to the everyday experiences of refugees and provide a good framework for group discussions. Not only did this lead to a lively exchange and many interested questions, it also promotes the integration of refugees into German society and the understanding of legal contexts.

The seminar was financed by the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection.

Internship programme for Arabic-speaking refugee lawyers in the area of “commercial and company law”

IRZ organised an additional internship programme in November and December 2020 to build on the aforementioned programme for Arabic-speaking lawyers from Syria and Iraq. The programme consisted of a five-day introductory online course, in which the participants learned about company law, insolvency law, competition law and intellectual property law, among other things, followed by a two-week internship that the interns completed in selected law firms and commercial businesses. This enabled the participants to expand the knowledge they had acquired and gain insight into the practical side of working in legal professions. The event will hopefully enable them to gain a foothold in the job market.

This internship programme was also funded by the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection. IRZ intends to continue the internship programme in 2021 and to reschedule the component on “soft skills” for lawyers that was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Online further training for French-speaking lawyers from the Maghreb countries

IRZ organised its first French-language further training series on current questions and problems in professional practice for notaries, lawyers, administrative and civil judges from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco from 30 November to 3 December 2020. In total, around 40 participants from the three states took part in the series of events, in which one day was reserved for each of the four professional groups. The agenda included the following and other topics:

  • Digitalisation (electronic files, electronic legal correspondence)
  • Conducting hearings in civil and administrative court jurisdiction
  • International private law in notarial practice, using the example of inheritance and family law
  • Professional law for lawyers

After a brief introductory lecture by the German speakers on each of the topics, the participants had the opportunity to engage in detailed group discussions and to share their general ideas. This sparked considerable interest and led to lively discussions, despite the digital platform. Nevertheless, the participants agreed that this format is no substitute for personal contact and it can only be hoped that the traditional internship programme can resume in the coming year.

Alumni further training event for lawyers on the legal implications of the COVID-19 pandemic

IRZ uses its network website to promote contact between former participants of the multilateral internship programme for lawyers and remains in close contact with them through regular correspondence. The internship programme has been jointly organised by IRZ, the German Federal Bar and the German Bar Association since 1994.

The new online format provided the opportunity to bring together alumni of the internship for lawyers from different years at one event. During the event, IRZ and the German Bar Association held a seminar on the topic of “Legal implications of the COVID-19 pandemic”. The event was attended by 36 lawyers from 17 different countries who had completed an internship between 1995 and 2019. The presenting lawyers shared their views on the COVID-19 pandemic with the participating alumni. Topics included the legal basis for imposing corona measures, consequences for commercial tenancy law, legal aspects of cancelled events and issues related to compensation claims and insurance cover for those affected. The speakers used examples from legal practice and current case-law to elucidate the situation in Germany to the participating lawyers and invited them to contribute personal experiences from their countries. The alumni were only too willing to accept this invitation.

Multilateral - annual report 2019

Participants of the ninth “IRZ Summer School German Law“ on the steps of the old town hall in Bonn
Participants of the ninth “IRZ Summer School German Law“ on the steps of the old town hall in Bonn

Multilateral Programmes

Overall Concept

In 2019, IRZ again conducted a series of multilateral events and internship programmes in particular. The aim of these programmes is to provide a communication platform for legal professionals from various partner states and from Germany to discuss current legal reforms, to exchange thoughts on new legal areas or, more generally, to share challenges in everyday legal practice. As multipliers, the participants are then in a position to present the solutions and strategies from other countries in their home systems and thus to promote reform processes in the form of best practice. The formats also help to build durable networks between members of the judiciary or the independent legal professions (lawyers, notaries) from abroad.

IRZ internship programmes are particularly successful. Participants can usually spend several weeks acquiring insight into everyday work in German law firms, courts, public prosecutors‘ offices or notaries‘ offices.

In addition to the traditional German programmes, IRZ has also been offering some programmes in English since 2016 in order to address a wider target group. These stays are adapted to consider the particular challenges associated with translation in a legal context, while at the same time providing participants with the greatest possible degree of practical insight. Among these offers is an English-language programme for civil and commercial judges, which was again held in 2019.

A two-step programme in French began in 2019 for the target group of legal professionals in the Maghreb countries. As a first step, judges, public prosecutors and notaries from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia participated in a one-week introductory seminar in Hammamet, Tunisia, during September 2019. The introductory course outlined the basic tenets of the German legal system as well as important and specific aspects for the work of these three professional groups. The second step will be a practical phase in Germany over the first half of 2020. IRZ plans to continue these new formats, sometimes alternating with the German-language programmes, given the consistently positive feedback from participants.

Focus of Activity in 2019

International Conference of the Memorandum Group of several national associations of judges in Bonn

Cooperating with the German Judges Association, IRZ organised an international conference of the Memorandum Group of several national associations of judges on “International Cooperation in Civil and Criminal Matters“ on 3 and 4 December 2019 in Bonn. Thirteen representatives of the Associations of Judges in Armenia, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Poland, Ukraine and Uzbekistan attended this conference, which has established itself as a platform for exchange of experience between judges. The German Judges Association, represented by its chairman Jens Gnisa, was involved on the German side, as has been the case at previous conferences of this kind. Professional legal support for the conference was provided by numerous German experts.

IRZ has been promoting this professional exchange between representatives of the judiciary from its partner countries since 2011. The aim is for the participants to form stronger networks across the region and to exchange experiences on similar problems or current legal reforms.

This year‘s conference focused on the recognition and enforcement of judgements, extradition traffic with foreign countries including the European arrest warrant, and foreign investigations into computer and cybercrime. During the conference, the participants and the German experts thoroughly illuminated important aspects of international cooperation in civil and criminal law matters and the problems involved, as well as possible solutions. At this year‘s event, IRZ again achieved its goal of promoting dialogue between the above-mentioned countries.

Ninth “IRZ Summer School on German Law“

Now in its ninth year, the “IRZ Summer School on German Law“ took place in Bonn from 7 to 13 July 2019. It was attended by 34 students from ten IRZ partner states: Armenia (3), Belarus (3), Georgia (3), Kazakhstan (2), Kosovo (3), Morocco (1), Russia (3), Serbia (6), Tunisia (1) and Ukraine (9). The summer school was inaugurated in 2011 as an addition to the supplementary studies for an introduction to German law at the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv (Western Ukraine). This explains why Ukraine continues to provide the largest group of participants. Even after nine years, this format is still in great demand. Excellent German skills are a prerequisite for participation.

Like last time, this year‘s summer school featured lectures on the following legal areas:

  • Protection of fundamental rights by the Federal Constitutional Court, the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights
  • Civil law: Company law and insolvency law
  • European civil and commercial law
  • Arbitration
  • Criminal law and criminal procedure law
  • Law of lawyers
  • Methodology

In 2019, IRZ Summer School again included a visit to trials at a civil and a criminal chamber at the Regional Court of Bonn, as well as discussions at the University of Bonn, during which participants were able to learn more about study opportunities for foreign students and postgraduates. In view of the very positive response and other factors, IRZ Summer School will be offered in the coming years as well, in order to continue addressing and promoting law students and young legal professionals in IRZ partner states.

Fourth seminar for Arabic-speaking legal professionals

For the fourth successive year, IRZ organised the seminar “Introduction to German Law“ for Arabic-speaking legal professionals from Syria and Iraq on 16 and 17 December 2019. The aim of this event is to provide participants with knowledge of the German court system and German criminal and civil law. A focus was placed on accessible case studies that illustrate German case-law and the interaction between different judicial instances, as well as on the everyday experiences of the refugees, which were addressed in a group discussion. Not only did this lead to a lively exchange and many interested questions, it also promotes the integration of refugees into German society and the understanding of legal contexts. The participating lawyers were frequently able to discover parallels between the German and Syrian or Iraqi legal systems.

The seminar was conducted by the experienced judges Uwe Stark, judge at the Local Court of Siegen, and Dr Arnd Weishaupt, judge at the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf.

Although the opportunities for refugee legal professionals to gain a professional foothold in Germany are limited, the seminar provides them with the chance to deepen the knowledge they have acquired in their home country and to identify similarities as well as differences between the legal systems.


The following programmes were held in 2019 in cooperation with, and supported by, the respective professional chambers and associations, as well as the Federal state justice administrations:

  • Two-week internship programme for administrative judges in cooperation with the Association of German Administrative Judges• Six-week internship programme for lawyers in the field of civil and commercial law in cooperation with the German Federal Bar and the German Bar Association
  • Two-week internship programme for notaries in cooperation with the Federal Chamber of Notaries
  • Two-week internship programme for English-speaking civil and commercial judges in cooperation with the German Judges Association and the Federal state justice administrations
  • Three-week internship programme for judges and public prosecutors in cooperation with the German Judges Association and the Federal state justice administrations
  • One-week introductory event in Tunisia for representatives of the judiciary and the notaries‘ office in the Maghreb states in preparation for the visit in 2020