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!