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.