What lawyers will do

Information for schoolchildren and prospective students

There are around 166,000 lawyers in Germany (as of 01/01/2020). Apparently a popular job. This is not surprising, because lawyers are involved in all areas of life and are in demand in many different areas. The field of activity is incredibly diverse. But how do you actually become a lawyer?


The studies
First legal exam
Legal preparatory service and second state examination
Admission to the bar


The studies

If you want to become a lawyer, you have to study law or, colloquially, law. This is only possible at universities. At many universities, admission to law studies is restricted by a numerus clausus (NC). This means that a certain final grade is required in the Abitur in order to be allowed to study there. The NC depends on the number of applicants. The higher the number of interested parties, the higher the NC, which is updated every semester.

The law degree usually lasts nine semesters, i.e. 4.5 years. First of all, the basic course has to be completed in four semesters. Basic knowledge of civil, public and criminal law is imparted here. The basic course concludes with a written intermediate examination.

This is followed by the main course (five semesters), in which the subjects from the basic course are deepened and additional areas of law, such as procedural law, are added. Seminars for key skills or languages ​​must be attended. In addition, there is a specialization in the focus course. There are more than 300 focus areas nationwide, such as legal advice and law, international or European law, criminal sciences, media law, environmental law, economics, competition law and much more. m.

First legal exam

The university part of legal training ends with the first exam. 70% of this consists of a state examination. The chosen focus area, which makes up the remaining 30% of the examinations, is examined by the universities. Both grades are shown separately on the exam certificate.

Because the universities themselves have been taking on part of the examination for a number of years, one can no longer speak of a “state examination”. The official name is therefore "First Legal Examination". The content of the law course and the exams vary from state to state, and also from university to university.

Legal preparatory service and second state examination

After passing the first legal exam, the legal preparatory service, also known as the legal clerkship, must be completed. Within two years, so-called stations or stages are passed through in order to get to know the various legal professions in practical application.

The trainee lawyers have to work for three months at a civil court (district or regional court), three months at the public prosecutor's office or in a criminal court, three months in an administrative court or an authority and nine months with a lawyer. Each trainee lawyer can in some cases choose for himself at which position the preparatory service is carried out.

This is followed by the written exams of the second state examination with several written exams. Before the oral examination, the trainee lawyers finally have the opportunity to complete a station of their choice for three to four months. Many exam candidates use this opportunity to gain experience abroad, for example at an international law firm or a German embassy.

During the legal traineeship, lectures in the respective legal area from a state and legal perspective also take place alongside the station. A so-called maintenance allowance is paid by the state. Depending on the federal state, this amounts to around € 1,000 to € 1,400 gross per month.

With the successful completion of the second state examination - and only then - you can call yourself a fully qualified lawyer and take one of the state-regulated legal professions of lawyer, judge, public prosecutor or civil servant in the higher administrative service.

Admission to the bar

If you want to become a lawyer, you have to become a lawyer. This admission must be applied for at the bar association in whose district you would like to practice as a lawyer. Every lawyer is thus a member of a bar association. In addition to the application for admission to the bar, a confirmation of the conclusion of professional liability insurance must be submitted to the bar association.

Anyone who is a lawyer must set up and maintain a law firm in his / her chamber district (so-called law firm obligation). There is also the option of working as an employed lawyer for a legal employer or as an in-house lawyer for a company.

The Federal Lawyers' Act (BRAO) and the Professional Code (BORA) regulate the professional law of all lawyers.