Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Lawyer Mess

Getting to be a lawyer in Germany....requires a plan, an enthusiasm on the part of a young student, and a fair amount of thinking ability (or the ability to pretend to think).

Generally, you will advance through the schooling system, and be on your way to a major German university....which offers law degrees.  There are two types of certificates or awards....the LL.B which is the bachelor of law studies, and the LL.M which is the master of law studies.

You basically run through the hoops for nine semesters....then go to exam number one.  A state board is going to give exam number one....which covers public, civil, criminal, business, and work-labor law.

Exam one is a harsh deal.  You walk in and take a five-hour sit-down test.  Then, there's a take-home project which is graded in some way.  You can call this a thesis or a test.....but it's geared to show your work ethic and serious nature.  Then there's an oral exam, which consumes a couple of hours.  This gets administrated by lawyers, public servants in your region, and court members.  This public oral exam....usually amounts to one-third of the total grade.

Yeah, getting to lawyer status on exam one....is a pretty tough deal.

If you pass this deal.....you move to a two-year period of training, classes and mentoring.  You are generally working with lawyers already in the system....getting trained on police actions, court reviews, defense strategy episodes, and public defenders.  In essence....you are a junior lawyer, with no status.

After this two-year period is wrapped up....now you go to exam number two.  The test is both written and oral.....requires eleven projects to be discussed or written, with only two hours to write or produce.  If you screw up on this test....you get ONE and only ONE repeat chance to pass.  Failure on the second time?  You are finished and will never be given another chance to take the exam.

Why this discussion?

Well....yesterday....some state guys from Lower Saxony came to announce that they are after one of their test monitors....who fled Germany (with cash and a girlfriend).

You see.....this test monitor is now believed to have sold text copies....to hundreds, and perhaps thousands.  The state isn't sure, and are waiting for this guy to be returned from Italy (where they found him).

What the state says.....they will form up a team, which will take candidate by candidate....from 2011 on....and see what their test scores were, and if they were engaged in criminal behavior by buying these test copies.

A long episode?  Well....at present, they guess the issue is around 2,000 (more or less) students.  This ripples across Germany....because there is some process where tests in one district or state.....might be gained from another state.  No one is saying much or talking of absolutes.

You can imagine this scene.....Ivan graduated in 2012, and is prospering from his legal achievements....then some state guy calls up and wants him to come down for a four-hour interrogation to defend the grade he got on the exams.  I doubt if Ivan will cooperate, and it might require court action or threats to make him participate.

If you have your status revoked....then what?  There's not exactly a bunch of rules to exempt you from this mess.  If found guilty.....I suspect you are finished and no second chance or future opportunity to recover.  Hostility or frustration?  I'm betting several hundred young lawyers are extremely angry.

The chance that a second cheating monitor will be found?  Maybe a third and fourth....dating back to the 1990's?  I'd take a guess that these guys are simply opening Pandora's Box and we are about to see hundreds of German lawyers decertified.

The extreme nature of this testing business?  Well....someone is going to look over how things are done elsewhere, and ask stupid questions.  What does a guy do in life....if he wasted six years of study, and doesn't pass test number two?  Well.....there's not much left in the legal world.....and I guess you'd end up selling real estate, working for some political party, or running a hotel operation.   Yeah, this would be one of the last occupations in Germany that any sane guy or gal would get themselves into.

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