Law clerkship: how to do it right?

Legal internship

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Course of the legal clerkship: Stages and exam preparation

Are you about to start or already at the beginning of your legal clerkship?? Then I would like to help you with this article, The right way to approach your legal clerkship.

I will give you an overview of what you need to know about the legal clerkship and explain to you how to proceed skillfully in order to complete your clerkship and second exam with the greatest possible success.

In addition I give you also many further reading recommendations. So you can use this article not only as a source of information, but also as a sort of Hub on the topic of legal clerkship which will bring you to the best tips and information for legal interns.

Selection of the federal state

One question that everyone asks themselves before the legal clerkship is how to choose a federal state. What you should consider when making this choice is a science in itself.

I therefore deal with this in a separate article: In which federal state to start your legal clerkship?. You can also find a lot of information about the legal clerkship in the individual German states on my state overviews of the legal clerkship.

Application for a legal clerkship

The application process for a traineeship differs from state to state. Partly it differs also within a federal state again under different OLG districts.

As a rule, you must submit, among other things, a (often handwritten) curriculum vitae, a certificate of good conduct, a photograph and an officially certified copy of your identity card or passport. Depending on the federal state, however, there may be considerably more documents to be submitted.

It is important that you inform yourself and apply in good time, because in some federal states you have to wait a long time for a legal clerkship (in others, however, you don’t have to wait at all). In addition, the processing times for issuing a certificate of good conduct for the application are sometimes quite long.

The exact waiting period for the legal clerkship depends on the federal state. Partly it goes only after temporal priority of the registration, partly the marks are also considered. Often, state children, i.e. those who also took the first exam in the respective federal state, have an advantage.

You can find detailed information on the waiting period regulations and the formalities of the application procedure on the website of the Higher Regional Court responsible for you or on the website of the regional court. Judicial Examination Office.

You can find the websites of the relevant agencies in each state here:

Preparation for the legal clerkship

If you still have time until the start of your legal clerkship, you may wonder how to prepare for the clerkship. In short, you should in the following order of priority:

  1. Plan your traineeship well (this article will help you with that).
  2. Take two to three weeks off.

If you don’t have any more time, point 3 is in any case dispensable without any problems.
You can find more detailed tips on preparing for the legal clerkship here.

Planning your internships

You should plan your legal clerkship as early as possible. The most popular stations are often filled years in advance. Exactly, that means, for certain stations (e.g. diving stations in the administration) you have to apply before your traineeship has even started.

Therefore, make sure you familiarize yourself as soon as possible with the process of the traineeship in your federal state. Which stations are there at all? How many? How long they take? An overview of the basic course of the legal clerkship with To Dos for each station can be found here.

There are usually four compulsory stations and one elective station. As compulsory stations you complete: Civil law station, criminal law station, administrative station and lawyer station.

In the civil law station you go to a civil court, in the criminal law station to a criminal court or partly also to the public prosecutor’s office and in the administrative station to the administrative court or to an authority. The lawyer station is the longest station. Logically, you will complete it in a law firm.

You are basically free to choose where you do your elective station, but your supervisor must be a fully qualified lawyer. In addition to the administrative station, the elective station is often a good opportunity to go abroad.

In Hamburg there are two elective stations, but the first elective station is not a "real" one, since you can only complete it at a court or at a public authority, but not in the free economy.

You can vary the order of the stations in some cases. In Hamburg, at least, it is also possible to split the lawyer’s station under certain circumstances (split), i.e. you do not have to complete them at the same time.

You have already noticed: As is often the case, the details of station planning depend on your federal state. You can find information on the overviews of the federal states and on the pages of the LJPAs/OLGs.

In addition, you should have a look at my article on strategic questions of station planning.

I would like to emphasize one particularly important point here: You have certainly already heard about the Dive It is part of the practice not to do any station work for a few months before the exam and to concentrate 100% on the second exam.

This is a practice that is not welcomed or even forbidden by the state examination boards, but is nevertheless extremely common. In my experience, you can read about what is common in this regard in my article on diving into legal clerkships.

Financial planning of the legal clerkship

You should also consider financial planning. Take a look at my salary overview to see how much maintenance allowance you will receive in your federal state and consider how high your living expenses will be.

During the legal traineeship, you can expect an additional traineeship salary in large law firms, but usually not in small law firms. You can also have a part-time job during your legal clerkship. However, you should weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of a part-time job.

In addition, you must take into account that the number of hours allowed is limited and that the station salary or salary from a sideline job above a certain level is subject to a minimum wage Reduction of your maintenance allowance can lead. The exact regulation also differs here between the individual federal states.

As far as I know, there is no overview sorted by federal state, and it would be difficult to keep it up to date, as the regulations are sometimes quite confusing and change regularly. It is best to inquire directly at the LJPA/OLG of your federal state about their concrete regulations.

Learning during your legal clerkship and exam preparation

At the end of the legal clerkship you have to pass the second state law examination. Note, however, that you have already taken the exams at the end of the lawyer station usually takes place around the end of the day. four months before the end of the last station. From the beginning of the legal clerkship, you do not have a full two years to prepare for your exams. In fact, after the end of the last station comes only the oral exam.

Learning and preparing for exams pose two special challenges during your traineeship: First, you have to manage the coexistence of station work and exam preparation correctly. Secondly, many things you got used to during the first exam have to change. For example, disputes of opinion play a much smaller role, case law is always followed, and in the exams the now often disputed facts require a new approach. You cannot simply continue to use the learning materials from your studies.

The second state exam is by no means a mere "appendage" to the first, with just a bit of procedural law added in. Have a look at this comparison between first and second state law exams.

But don’t worry, you can handle these challenges well – if you know about them and plan properly.

Make a good study plan for your second exam as early as possible. To help you implement your learning plan, I’ve created a list of what I think are the best learning materials for student teachers. There you will also find tips on how and when to use these materials. Special prudence required to repeat substantive law during clerkship.

You can find more learning tips for your legal clerkship in my free e-mail course for legal clerks, the Juratopia Ref-Hacks.

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