Germany is officially referred to as the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland) and holds political and economical influence on all other EU countries. Germany’s democratic government enforces a system of law based on the principles described in the ‘Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany’.
The German legal system ensures that there is fairness of investigations and trials. However, it operates differently from the American legal system.
For instance –
- There is no system of ‘jury trial’ in Germany and judges take an active part in court proceedings.
- A tribunal can be made of a single professional judge or a board of judges.
- The professional judges serving in different states are trained legal experts and are employed as civil servants.
- There are both ordinary and specialised court systems in Germany.
- The ordinary courts in Germany hear matters related to civil, criminal, family and marriage laws and include Local Courts (Amtsgerichte), Regional Courts (Landgericht), and Higher Regional Courts (Oberlandesgerichte). The Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof) is the highest court in the German ordinary jurisdiction system.
- The specialised courts, on the other hand, include Administrative law courts (Verwaltungsgerichte), Labor law courts (Arbeitsgerichte), Social law courts (Sozialgerichte), Financial courts (Finanzgerichte), and Constitutional law courts (Bundesverfassungsgericht).
Study Law in Germany – Key Facts & Benefits
To become a professional lawyer in Germany, you must undertake two examinations and study law curriculum for 6 years. After 4 years of undergraduation, students must take the first state examination. After qualifying the exam, they must take a 2-year internship to gain experience in all facets of the legal system. A basic wage is paid to the legal interns by the federal government. Legal interns, after completing this period, can sit for the second state examination and qualify it for seeking employment as a full-fledged professional lawyer or judge. Higher education costs in Germany are heavily subsidized and lesser compared to US tuition costs.
Germany’s unemployment rates are lower than many other European countries. International students get a good chance to seek employment after studying for the Law degree and completing both of the exams.
Study Law in Germany – Do I need to know German to pursue law in Germany?
Germany is a popular destination for pursuing LLM courses. International students get more options to study in English language at this level. However, it’s better to learn basic German language which can help you to interact with fellow students, faculty or while presenting thesis work in seminars. If you are comfortable speaking the German language, you can opt for non-English law courses in top public universities in Germany.
Do you aspire to make a career abroad? Excellent study abroad opportunities in Germany! Read Study in Germany after 12th.
Study Law in Germany – Scholarships to Pursue Law
Popular Law scholarships available for international students are:
- DAAD Scholarship for Public Policy and Good Governance – Basically these are master’s-level scholarships for students from countries in Africa, Latin America, South Asia, etc to undertake a master’s degree in public policy at a participating German university. Applicants should have studied a related undergraduate degree in law. DAAD pays a monthly instalment of EUR 850.00, an appropriate travel allowance and a study and research subsidy of EUR 460 each year. You will also get a rent subsidy and/or allowance for spouses or children where applicable. Health insurance, accident and liability insurance in Germany are also covered by the scholarship.
- Max Planck Society Research Scholarships – Max Planck Society Research Scholarships in Germany is offered for PhD or post doctoral degree holders in the field of Law. The scholarship partially funds the student’s tuition fee and awards EUR 1365 to 2,300 per month. This scholarship is open for international applicants and excludes the German nationals.
- Research fellowship opportunities are available for international students pursuing research in history, anthropology, law, sociology or area studies at Humboldt University.
Study Law in Germany – Law Careers
After qualifying with a law degree in Germany, you may advise German clients on your home country’s legal system, as companies which intend to establish a subsidiary abroad, for instance, require legal advice on many issues, such as choosing the right legal form, tax laws etc. There are plenty of opportunities after achieving a qualification in law from Germany.
You can find the following types of jobs (and other legal related) after completing a law degree in Germany:
- A job in Administrative Law
- Corporate Counsel
- Legal Specialist
- Law clerk
- Legal consultant
- Litigation Attorney
- Staff Attorney
Study Law in Germany – Top Law Schools
|Top Law Schools||Courses offered|
|LMU Muenchen||LLM in German Law, European and International Economic Law|
|Humboldt University||LLM in Dispute Resolution, Translation Criminal Justice & Crime Prevention, European and Comparative Law is taught in English language. The intake period is for 12 months. Courses are taught in French and German language. Also, the courses are delivered in collaboration with foreign universities.|
|Bucerius Law School||Master of Law and Business Program (LLM/MLB). The MLB Program’s one-year curriculum is designed exclusively for young professionals who strive to be at the forefront of developments in the field of law.|
|Heidelberg University||LL.M. in Corporate Restructuring, LL.M. in International Law (in Santiago, Chile), LL.M. in Corporate Restructuring. Full time and part time programmes available. Course fees range from EUR 7000-8000 and intake period is 12-24 months.|
|Bonn University||Magister Legum (LL.M.), Deutsches Recht (Master of German Laws (LL.M.)) course, taught in German|
|University of Freiburg||Master of Laws (LL.M.) for Foreign Lawyers, Course duration is 24 months. Intake months – April and October.|
|Freie University Berlin||Master of Business, Competition and Regulatory Law (MBL).. It is taught in English and the intake period for the course is October. The period of the course is 12 months. On average, 3 years of work experience is required for getting admission in this course.|
|University of Munich||Masters in Law in German Language|
|Goethe University||Popular English-taught law courses – LLM in Finance, LLM in International Finance, Legal Theory, European and International Business Law. The tuition fees for the LLM courses is EUR 18,000 approx. and the course duration is 12 months.|
|Cologne University||Master of Laws (LL.M.) Rechtswissenschaft für im Ausland graduierte Juristinnen und Juristen – LL.M. for lawyers with a foreign law degree. The course duration is for 12 months and intake is done as per the Winter/Spring and Summer is the intake period.|
Top 3 law universities in Germany – Details
The universities listed in the table are the top universities to pursue legal studies. Out of the listed universities, two of them rank in the top 50 QS subject wise rankings. LMU, Munich ranks at 35 and Humboldt University, Berlin ranks at 42 in the world.
Let’s get into some details on 3 globally popular law universities in Germany:
1. LMU Munich
LMU (Ludwig Maximilian University) offers challenging study programs and provides an ideal environment for top-level research. LMU Munich wins a significant volume of outside funding from its commitment to internationality in teaching and research. There are 7,500 external students from more than 125 countries, which makes LMU the academic home of most of the foreign students in Germany. The Faculty of Law at Ludwig Maximilian University is one of the largest in Germany. It offers a wide range of law courses along with the option to qualify for international and European business law after the Staatsexamen (First State Examination) or an equivalent foreign degree. The school offers a broad range of LL.M. courses such as the LL.M. in German Law and a programme focused on European and International Economic law.
2. University of Hamburg
It is also one of the oldest and prestigious universities in Germany for the studies in law. The university’s LLM in European Governance & Administration and several other legal courses are quite popular. Berlin has important legal institutions and is a great place to pursue legal studies. Popular law courses at University of Hamburg are – 1.) Deutsches und Europäisches Recht und Rechtspraxis (LL.M.), 2.) Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Intellectual Property Law and Media Law, 3.) LL.M. in International Dispute Resolution (IDR), 4.) LL.M. in Transnational Criminal Justice and Crime Prevention and 5.) European Law and Comparative Law (LL.M.).
3. Humboldt University
The Law Faculty of Humboldt University of Berlin offers a one-year full-time graduate degree programme in International Dispute Resolution (IDR). The university keeps a strong emphasis on international arbitration. Master’s programme is open to law graduates from jurisdiction around the world and is taught exclusively in English. The intake for this programme takes place in October and the tuition fees are EUR 9,000.
Another course offered by the Humboldt University is LL.M. in Transnational Criminal Justice and Crime Prevention course, which is taught in English and the intake happens in the month of January of each year. The duration of the programme is 12 months.
European Law and Comparative Law (LL.M.) is another English-taught programme popular at University of Hamburg. It is also taught in French and German. The intake happens in October and the course duration is 12 months. The programme is available to students from partner universities enrolled in dual degrees (King’s College, London,Université Panthéon-Assás Paris II, France, China University of Political Science and Law, China).
Study Law in Germany – Legal Certificate Programmes in Germany
International students can pursue certificate courses, LLB and LLM in the field of Law in Germany. One of the popular certificate programmes by the name of ‘International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law’ can be pursued from the European University Viadrina, Frankfurt.
International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law – One can get a diploma or certificate in this subject with shorter periods of coursework study at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany. Students are awarded 30 ECTS for completing the coursework in the certificate programme. As a full-time student, you are required to be present on campus for two months during the six-month-long semester.
- A university degree in law or its equivalent
- Adequate aptitude in English (both spoken and written)
- A highly motivated attitude for participating in the programme
- 1 year of practical work experience
- Payment of tuition fees according to the fees regulation of the university
You can pursue the course as full time or part time student and the semester fees for full time students is EUR 2,050. It is an on-campus course taught in English language.
Some other popular legal certificate courses offered by German universities are:
- Diploma in International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, European University Viadrina, Frankfurt
- Arbitration & Alternative Dispute Resolution, Certified Program, Danube University Krems FBG
- Legal Technology and Operations, Bucerius Law School
- Law, Society and Politics in Comparative Perspective, Freie Universitat Berlin International Summer and Winter University (FUBiS)
- Augsburg Summer Program, University of Augsburg
Study Law in Germany – FAQs
Q. How many years does it take to complete law studies in Germany?
A. On an average, it takes between 7-11 years to complete law studies and get admitted to the German Bar Association.
Q. How difficult is it to become a lawyer in Germany?
A. One can become a lawyer in Germany by passing two legal state exams. To be eligible for the first exam, you have to study somewhere between 6 and 12 semesters at a university. Generally, you choose a major (e.g. criminal law) and then take the first exam consisting of 5-8 written case studies (5 hours each) and an oral exam. The cases are written in the style of legal opinions.
The second exam requires 2 years of practical training at courts, administration and law firms with the main focus on law firms. The exam is similar to the first exam, the only major difference is that you write court rulings and opinions on the possible outcome of court proceedings.
Many law graduates join prestigious law firms that provide them with a high salary. Having more than 9 points (vollbefriedigend) in both exams is the magical key to enter all large law firms.
Q. Is law school free in Germany?
A. International students have to pay certain administration fees as per the university for each semester of the course. LLM courses are generally 1-year courses and cost up to as low as 2K per semester. Elite public and private universities, may however ask for higher fees.
Q. How much does a lawyer earn in Germany?
A. An attorney, on an average, earns EUR 16,300 per month in Germany . The salary of lawyers in Germany largely depends on the experience and the highest level of qualifications they have obtained in the field of law.