A large country in central Europe containing 16 states and a member of the European Union, Germany is officially referred to as the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland) and holds much political and economical influence among all other EU countries. The Chancellor presides over Germany's democratic government that enforces a system of law based on principles described in the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany.
Essential Facts about Germany
- The sixteen states comprising Germany are called Länder, with each state possessing its own constitution.
- Contributions by Germans to the fields of science, mathematics and technology cannot be emphasized enough. Brilliant individuals like Einstein, Max Planck, Herman von Helmholtz, Johannes Gutenberg, Gottfried Leibniz and Carl Gauss are just a few German scientists who have supplied the world with famous inventions.
- Germany is one of the world's most technologically advanced manufacturers of coal, iron, cement, steel, machinery, vehicles and chemicals. It also has large investments in green energy, especially solar power and the use of windmills for electricity.
- Popular tourist attractions in Germany include the Bavarian Alps, the Black Forest, the Rhine Valley and its ancient castles and the artsy capital Berlin.
Germany's Legal System
Three sets of regulatory laws comprise Germany's legal system: public, private and criminal law. Public law (also includes criminal law) deals with legal matters between an individual and the state. Private law mediates relationships between companies and two or more people. Germany law is highly influenced by Roman law as well as Napoleonic law, or the Napoleonic Code.
Judges play an active role in Germany's legal procedural system. Although similar to the type of legal system used by other democratically run countries, Germany does not have jury trials due powers allocated to a judge that allow him to make a final decision. One judge or several judges can comprise a "tribunal", which is essentially a substitute for a jury. Lay judges, or citizens who are chosen by a special committee before a trial begins, can also be included in a tribunal. In Germany, ordinary courts hear matters concerning marriage, criminal, family and civil disputes. Alternately, special administrative courts hear cases involving government actions. Labor, financial and social law courts are other specialized German courts that adjudicate cases related to work, taxes and social benefits.
Study Law in Germany
Obtaining a German Law Degree
To earn a law degree in Germany, students must take two state exams and go through a 6 year long curriculum. First, students must pass the First State Examination at the end of 4 years of undergraduate studies. They must then take a two-year internship (called Referendarzeit) to gain experience in all facets of the legal system. Finally, a second State Examination is given to students finishing the two years of legal internships in criminal and civil court. During the internship, students must also take classes taught by lawyers or judges. Wages paid to the student are provided by the German government. Potential lawyers in Germany have two chances to pass State Examinations. After passing both examinations, the student is considered qualified to seek employment as a judge or a lawyer.
Higher education costs are heavily subsidized by the German government and are relatively low in comparison to U.S. tuition costs, unless a student elects to seek a law degree at a private university.
Germany's unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the European Union. International students opting to earn a law degree in Germany and pursue employment are likely to find a position soon after passing the Second Exam.