Special Regulations for Attorneys
You are from outside the EU and want to continue your practice here in Germany, you need to meet some mandatory provisions. We introduce you to them on this page.
What is the procedure to receive a license to practice in Germany?
Upon your application, the applicable chamber of attorneys will draft a brief which sets forth any and all possible reasons why you should not be admitted to the list of admitted practicing attorneys. The reason frequently used to argue why you should not be admitted include the following:
- You have a criminal record.
- You have forfeited a constitutional right.
- You have committed a behavior unworthy of the status and reputation of an attorney.
- A court has withdrawn your license by an unappealable judgment in the last five years.
- You are fighting against the free democratic order in a manner subject to penal prosecution.
- You are feeble-minded.
- You have not obtained local German professional liability insurance with a liability limit of € 250,000.
- You are in a bad financial standing.
If the first reason describes you, then forget practicing - even in Germany. In case any of the other above mentioned arguments were to be true then you might need assistance from a German attorney to obtain your license. The local Rechtsanwaltkammer may in addition to those mentioned above have other requirements including those required of all attorneys practicing within its jurisdiction some of which are set forth below.
How do I prove that I still have my license?
This requirement can usually be satisfied by submitting a certified letter from the attorneys' own governing body (Bar Association) that states that he is an active member of the bar and has not been subjected to any disciplinary action during the his time of licensure. Proof of completion of the necessary legal education may also be requested. Thus, the attorney will have to obtain either a certified letter or transcripts showing proof of his completion of a law degree. An official birth certificate is also required.
How do I show that I have no convictions?
Official proof that the attorney has no prior criminal convictions is also a necessary document that must be obtained from the attorney's home country. For American Attorneys, it may be worthwhile to obtain this document before coming to Germany or during a trip back to the U.S. This document can be obtained from the FBI. See the following link. (https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/identity-history-summary-checks). Fingerprints will be necessary and may be difficult to obtain from the German police department therefore it may be a wise move to heed the above-referenced word of advice.
Where do I get the form?
Visit the homepage of the chamber of federal state you are living in and search for the words "formular 206 brao".
Can you give me an example for "unworthy behavior"? Will a speeding ticket qualify as unworthy to be a Rechtsanwalt?
Do not worry about speeding tickets or the like. They are no problem as they occur even in the best of families. If you have used a letterhead saying "Rechtsanwalt zugelassen beim Landgericht... (attorney authorized at regional court of...)" even though you knew that you were not entitled to that title, then you will not be admitted to the German bar. It will not help if you argue that you have passed the European Attorney's test in the mean time and you therefore have knowledge of German law. This case was ruled by (Anwaltsgerichtshof) Attorney's Court of Baden Wurttemberg, May 25, 2004, re AHG 37/2002 (I).
Will I be able to advise on German law?
Not automatically. The legal system is pretty fussy on who may give advice on German law and who may not.
Which law may I then advise on?
You can advise on your home country's law, the law on nations, and supranational law. However, prior to being able to practice within these specific areas, you will need to obtain a permit pursuant to German Law on Legal Consulting (Rechtsberatungsgesetz). Click on this sentence to obtain a list of attorneys chambers
What about taxes? Do I have to register this trade anywhere else?
Attorneys belong to the so-called chambered free professionals. This detail is relevant for taxation! You are only obliged to register at your competent chamber but not at the trade office (Gewerbeamt).
The comments referring to an American lawyer are a courtesy of Chris A Yturralde Esq.
What applies if I am 45 or older?
If you are 45 years or older, you also have to receive a salary of at least € 4015 in western Germany resp. € 3905 for eastern Germany. If your salary will be lower than that threshold, you will have to show an adequate pension plan or other provisions for retirement. This coverage can be either the state pension plan from home, private savings, or closing a German pension plan or a mixture of all. The government wants to make sure that you will not be dependent on welfare upon retiring.
N.B. This is only relevant for the very first permit!