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What does a bar association actually do?

While law students may have little time and interest in bar associations in the sometimes sweaty stress of preparing for exams and exams, issues relating to admission prove to be significant when they start their careers at the latest. After all, everyone in Germany who wants to practice as a lawyer or in-house lawyer must be a member of a bar association. To achieve this, you first have to go through an approval process. You can find information about this process, the organization of the respective regional bar associations in Germany and other points to be observed here.


1. What is a bar association and how is it organized?

Basically you can be a bar association as aAssociation of lawyers understand. The organizational structure of these chambers has been changed since they came into force on August 1, 1959 by theFederal Lawyers' Act (BRAO)regulated. Incidentally, the entire German professional law for lawyers is standardized in it. This includes, in particular, all rights and obligations that a lawyer in Germany must observe or follow towards his clients and third parties.


First and foremost, bar associations are corporations under public law and thus part of the so-called indirect state administration.


According to § 60 I BRAG, a bar association must be formed for the respective district of a higher regional court. It is therefore always based at the place of the higher regional court.

The individual bar associations are supervised by the competent oneState Justice Administration. However, this supervision is limited to compliance with the relevant laws and statutes and the fulfillment of the tasks assigned to the Bar Association.

The nationwide umbrella organization of the 28 regional bar associations is theFederal Prosecutor's Office (BRAK) based in Berlin. In particular, it represents the various interests of its members in relation to politics, i.e. the Bundestag, the Bundesrat as well as the ministries and the Federal Constitutional Court, and participates in the legal-political discourse and legislative process. She is, so to speak, the voice of the entire German legal profession - both at the federal level and in a European and international context.


2. The admission procedure: who may or must be admitted to a bar?

First of all, of course, the question arises of who can or must become a member of a bar association and why this is necessary at all. The following applies here:


Anyone working as a lawyer in Germany practice and would like to use the professional title "Attorney" or "In-house lawyer" is Committedto apply for admission to the bar in the relevant chamber district.


In accordance with Section 4 No. 1 BRAG, only those who have acquired the qualification for judicial office in accordance with the German Judicial Act can be admitted to the legal profession.

For a successful admission procedure, it is therefore usually decisive that a sufficiently certified copy of the certificate of the second state examination is submitted. A fee of 260 euros is then due when submitting the application (example: Chamber District Munich). These Admission fee Of course, it is important to distinguish from the annual chamber fee of 285 euros, whereby this amount is reduced to 200 euros annually for first-time members in the first three years - young lawyers are thus relieved a little financially. Young parents also have advantages: the annual fee can be reduced for members of the Chamber whose employment is restricted due to the birth of a child. Upon application, only 143 euros per annum have to be paid for the calendar year of the birth and the two following calendar years.


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Admission to the bar becomes effective with the delivery of the certificate of admission. This takes place within the framework of the Swearing inwhich is headed by a member of the board of the respective bar association, and often even takes place weekly. The applicant then has an oath standardized in § 12a BRAG to perform. In addition, proof of professional liability insurance or a provisional cover letter must be submitted. Only then does the applicant become a member of the relevant bar association and may also use the professional title "Rechtsanwältin" or "Rechtsanwalt". The “new” lawyer must then set up and maintain a law firm within three months in the district of the bar association of which he is a member.


From now on, the newly sworn attorney has to carry out his duties conscientiously. This also means that according to § 43 BRAG he is obliged to show the respect and trust that the position of his profession presupposes and demands as worthy. This applies both inside and outside of his service environment.


By the way: Admission to the legal profession only expires if exclusion from the legal profession is recognized by a final judgment or if the withdrawal or revocation of the admission has become final, § 13 BRAG. When the license to practice as a lawyer expires, the previously granted authorization to use the professional title "Attorney" ends again, Section 17 I 1 BRAG.


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3. Facts about facts


Nationwide, the Federal Bar Association had a total of 165,854 members on January 1st, 2018.


Of these, exactly 150,600 people are listed as lawyers, 1,975 as in-house lawyers and 12,079 members even in both areas. Compared to the previous year, this means an increase of 0.18 percent in terms of the total number of members, i.e. only a very slight increase. Incidentally, the registered lawyers include 44,215 specialist lawyers, of which 9,128 with two and 971 with three (!) Specialist lawyer titles.

The largest chamber district is Munich, in which 21,665 members are currently registered - the smallest in turn is Zweibrücken with 1,433 members (apart from the Federal Court of Justice with 42 members). The Munich Bar Association also recorded the largest percentage increase with 1.18 percent or 252 new members, while Saxony-Anhalt recorded the largest percentage loss of membership with a minus 2.44 percent.


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4. Everything at a glance: Bar Association

Both the regional bar associations in the individual chamber districts and the federal bar association are self-governing organizations established by law. They represent the interests of the legal profession vis-à-vis the economy, courts and politics. At the same time, they protect the integrity of the legal profession in Germany with the help of the legal basis standardized in the BRAG. In this respect, the bar association also develops a highly significant external effect for the citizens. Incidentally, she is always the right contact person if a client wants to complain about his lawyer, for example because a violation of legal professional obligations is suspected. In addition, bar associations support or mediate in disputes between client and lawyer.


All in all, it can be said that the bar associations - even if they are usually less in the media spotlight - are to be regarded as valuable institutions and are equally important for the German legal profession and with regard to their social function.


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