Seminar for Arabic-speaking refugee lawyers on the topics of "family reunification and individual labour law"

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ

As part of the funding project for the sustainable support of young lawyers from the Middle East, IRZ organised an online seminar for Arabic-speaking refugee lawyers on the topics of "Family reunification and individual labour law" on 24 and 25 October 2021. The event was funded by the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV). 

The evaluation of the last face-to-face event in August 2021 made it clear that the topic of asylum law was of particular interest to the participants. For this reason, IRZ focused the content of the course on this topic and deepened it. The seminar aimed to support the Arabic-speaking refugee lawyers in expanding their already acquired legal knowledge in the areas of asylum and labour law and in this way to promote their social and professional integration. 

After the welcome at the beginning of the seminar, the participants first introduced themselves: Some had completed their legal studies in their home country and had already worked as lawyers there. Others had studied at a German university and completed a Master's degree (LL.M). 

The following experts participated in the event on behalf of IRZ: 

  • Dr Helena Isabel Maier, lawyer
  • Manuela Landuris, independent consultant for private international law and international family law 
  • Franz Beil,fully qualified lawyer (specialising in labour and social law) 

The participants were able to deepen their acquired knowledge of asylum law through the expert presentations. Specifically, they dealt with the procedure, the application, the duration of the procedure and the special features of family reunification with family members from third countries in Germany. In addition, the participants familiarised themselves with the basics of labour law using practical examples. The focus was on the establishment, content and termination of an employment relationship.

 The participants, for whom the topics of the seminar are of great relevance in their private and professional lives, used the lectures for lively discussions and an intensive exchange of experiences with the experts. In November and December 2021, selected participants are given the opportunity for a two-week job shadowing on the topic of asylum law in a law firm in order to gain insights into practical work and to find an easier entry into the German labour market.

Multilateral internship programme for lawyers

The participants of the multilateral internship programme for lawyers with the representative of the BRAK, lawyer Khalil Hassanain (2nd from left)
The participants of the multilateral internship programme for lawyers with the representative of the BRAK, lawyer Khalil Hassanain (2nd from left)

Together with the German Federal Bar (Bundesrechtsanwaltskammer) and the German Bar Association (Deutscher Anwaltverein), IRZ has been running an annual multilateral internship programme in the German language for lawyers since 1994. After the programme was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it went ahead this year as a face-to-face event from 24 September to 28 October 2021. 

A full EU-compliant vaccine certificate was required for attendance at the event. Since not all the 15 participants who had been due to take part in the 2020 internship programme were able to fulfil this requirement (amongst other reasons), only a small group of six lawyers from five countries attended the internship programme. 

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During a seminar

The eight-day introductory seminar in Bonn at the start of the programme covered the German professional law for lawyers, which were presented to the participants by members from the German Federal Bar and the German Bar Association, as well as selected topics concerning German and European civil and commercial law, which were presented by speakers from the legal profession.

Afterwards, the participants spent three and a half weeks in law firms, where they were able to deepen their knowledge of German law in a practical way and gain an insight into the activities and working methods of their German colleagues. Finally, a one-day evaluation seminar took place in Bonn, which was dedicated to the written evaluation of the IRZ programme, as well as the oral exchange of experiences between the participants. 

No cuts were made to the usual duration of the internship programme and its structure, even under the prevailing pandemic conditions. In order to maximise the professional benefit of the internship programme for the participants, it was important to maintain the link between theory and practice that characterises the internship programme, even under the current conditions. The participants were also provided with the necessary time frame to enable an intensive professional exchange among themselves and with the lawyers of their host law firms. 

Special emphasis is always placed on these aspects when planning and implementing the internship programme. This is the only way of establishing the basis for achieving the desired long-term goal of the internship programme, which is to promote cooperation between lawyers in different countries.

Sixth seminar for Arabic-speaking refugees from a legal background

During the seminar
During the seminar

From 23 to 26 August 2021, IRZ organised its sixth multi-day training event for Arabic-speaking lawyers in Bonn, Germany. The subjects covered this time were the “Basics of Asylum Law” and “Soft Skills - Key Qualifications for Lawyers”. The event, which was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV), focussed in particular on the current Coronavirus protection regulation for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Once the seminar had been opened by IRZ, the fifteen participants introduced themselves. While some had completed their studies in their home countries in the Middle East and had already worked as lawyers there, others had completed a Master's degree in Law (LL.M.) at a German university. 

The seminar offered the participants the opportunity to learn about the basics of German asylum law and the asylum procedure in Germany. It also covered the key skills required for lawyers. In this context, the speakers underlined the importance of social competence. 

Dr Arnd Weishaupt, a judge at the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf, Uwe Stark, a judge at the Local Court of Siegen, and Prof. Dr Lasse Gundelach, a lawyer and lecturer at the Catholic University of Applied Sciences Mainz, participated in the course on behalf of IRZ. They presented the following main topics using case studies from practice:

  • The basics of asylum law: an introduction to asylum law in Germany, residence permits, time limits, toleration, family reunification, access to the labour market, practical case studies. 
  • Soft Skills – key qualifications for lawyers: legal argumentation skills and rhetoric, the convincing presentation of legal content and results, the efficient learning of legal knowledge, effective group work, time management and self-management skills. 

In addition to the expert presentations on the above-mentioned topics, the participants also had the opportunity to have an online expert discussion with Felix Ross. The Director of Legal Affairs at the United Nations, UN Bonn, introduced them to the work and organisational structure of his department, as well as work and internship opportunities. 

The participants also attended court hearings in the civil, economic and criminal divisions of the Regional Court of Bonn.

The seminar featured some lively discussions. The participants had intense discussions with the experts about their practical experiences. 

The course helped to promote the social and professional integration of Arab refugee lawyers and their understanding of legal contexts in Germany in a sustainable way.

Another important part of the training concept involves internships for the participants in a law firm or commercial enterprise, which should allow them to gain an insight into practical work, develop a network and make it easier for them to find work in the German employment market.

All the seminars that have been held for Arabic-speaking refugee lawyers from the Middle East region since 2016 have been successful and relevant for the further qualification of the participants. IRZ therefore intends to continue the training project on further legally relevant topics.