Why is it legal to be angry?

Conference of the BRAK: Lawyers under pressure


"Bad topics about the future of the legal profession" - this was the motto of this year's BRAK Lawyers' Conference. Legal tech and young talent worries were the outstanding topics. Martin W. Huff about a profession under pressure.

How "bad" is the German legal profession? The fact is: Legal tech, concerns about young talent and financing issues are troubling the profession. Lawyers discussed a wide range of topics at a conference in Berlin. It ranged from the question of whether modern technology will abolish the law on extrajudicial legal services (RDG) in the future to what the future prospects of law firms are and how their financing can be regulated. Many developments were presented, but no patent remedies were offered.

The German legal profession, which is currently growing solely through the newly created in-house lawyer, has concerns about the future. In particular, small and medium-sized law firms that are not located in metropolitan areas do not see their future as "pink". Both in terms of searching for and finding suitable young lawyers and in filling apprenticeships with legal assistants. In addition, there are the developments in modern technology, which are currently pulling many standardized mandates across the board from the law firms and are increasingly shifting them to law firms that work together with the providers of technical services.

The Federal Bar Association (BRAK) asked six speakers to present their theses on the future of the legal profession in short presentations. Some of these were then discussed very controversially among the more than 100 participants in the conference. The highlights were very different, but in the end there was the certainty that the situation outside the big cities and the big law firms is not easy for the lawyers and that it is becoming more and more evident that the legal profession is changing more than it is himself commonly means.

Legal tech applications on the rise

The start of the conference dealt with the question of whether robots will sooner or later make the RDG superfluous. Marco Klock, founder of the company rightmart Software GmbH in Bremen, said that his company complied with the RDG by working with a law firm, but that it was ultimately superfluous and no longer granted the client any protection. With modern technology, checks of mass notices could be carried out in better quality than with the help of a lawyer.

Klock outlined a future in which legal help can be dispensed with, not only with standardized procedures: Legal-tech applications could one day make subsumptions, especially in consumer law, as lawyers still do today. In the subsequent discussion it became clear that the service of the lawyer had to be defined more technically, possibly also by changing the RDG. It was disputed whether the client really wanted personal advice from the lawyer in mass proceedings or whether he would also accept it if such advice were carried out electronically - certainly offered by the law firm.

The introduction of such legal tech applications was inevitably linked to the controversial question of whether law firms could be financed by third party investments. This holy cow of professional law was questioned by lawyer Rüdiger Ludwig from Hamburg, who is also a member of the board of the Hamburg Bar Association. Ludwig was of the opinion that it must now be possible to raise funds for the law firm not only through external financing from banks, but also through the entry of non-professional partners. However, this should not lead to the content-related work being determined by the third party. This was of course strongly contradicted. But it also became clear that the necessity of investing in the future of law firms meant that a change had to take place here.

Too few women, too few offspring

The legal profession is also concerned about the offspring. Lawyer and notary Eghard Teichmann from Achim in Lower Saxony regretted two developments: It was difficult at all to find lawyers for work "in the country". But if these did come, then only as an employee and not as an economically responsible entrepreneur. He made it clear that the chances of earning income in specialized smaller law firms in rural areas are sometimes better than in metropolitan areas. But: Everyone wanted to go to the cities and not take advantage of the opportunity to work in the countryside. Teichmann criticized the tendency to close district courts for purely economic considerations. This makes legal work outside of a city with the seat of a regional court unattractive.

The Academic Senior Councilor Ulrike Schultz from the Open University in Hagen pointed out another grievance: there are still too few women as partners in law firms. In the larger law firms, only a good 10 percent women are registered as full partners. And this despite the fact that almost 50 percent women have now completed the second state law examination. Reasons for this situation were given in the course of a heated discussion: For women, a job as in-house lawyer or in the judiciary is ultimately more attractive, so that after a few years of working in a law firm, they leave it again. This in turn could also be related to the fact that in law firms questions of parental leave and part-time work are still not adequately regulated. This competitive relationship between the professions will not dissolve anytime soon, according to the participants in the discussion.

And the situation is far from satisfactory when it comes to the offspring in the lawyer's office: Legal clerks are still in short supply in many places: Young people tend to prefer more attractive jobs in the judiciary and in companies as a training occupation and migrate to the metropolitan areas, said lawyer Dr. Christoph Müllers, member of the BRAK's vocational training committee. He criticized the fact that one apparently did not give sufficient thought to which job profile and which tasks would be attractive for legal clerks. Here, the legal profession as a whole, but also the regional bar associations in particular, have to make a much stronger effort to recruit young people. This obviously requires further incentives. For example, the Ministry of Justice in North Rhine-Westphalia is currently considering accepting trainees for the middle service again as candidates for civil servant status.

That afternoon in Berlin it became clear that there are many construction sites for the legal profession, that every law firm has to think about its location and that the legal profession itself is facing a more radical change than it often thinks itself today.

The author Martin W. Huff is the managing director of the Cologne Bar Association and lawyer in the LLR law firm in Cologne.

Martin W. Huff, Conference of the BRAK: Lawyers under pressure. In: Legal Tribune Online, April 18, 2018, https://www.lto.de/persistent/a_id/28135/ (accessed on: 23.05.2021)

Information on the suggested citation
  • In any case, "evil" is the obligation to use the "special electronic attorney's mailbox (beA)".
    But if this compulsory use and the associated one-sided, even dictatorial, separation of free and market-based or competitive and, above all, entrepreneurially (survival) necessary variants of communication channels can be classified as reprehensible, then it is obvious that there are certainly many other "developments" and in particular the institutions responsible for them are "malicious" in nature.
    To the detriment of all remaining reasonable and serious professionals.
    A suspicion is very strongly aroused as to how things might have been partly or even at all in Germany in the 1930s.
    This has to be countered massively, of course - with a lot of antibodies.

    Let's tackle it - let's fight the "evil"!
    And that successfully!

    A lawyer turned antibody
  • Everything takes care of itself. If technology makes lawyers superfluous, then they just disappear. Shoemaker was once a popular profession and it no longer exists. That's just how it is when you study the wrong thing. In many other subjects you finish after four years, have a final grade of 1 and excellent career prospects. In contrast, training to become a lawyer takes twice as long and career prospects are completely uncertain. For a third, the degree is worth nothing at all.

    They shouldn't blame them for the fact that high school graduates are increasingly noticing that the law degree is a wrong decision due to the expected average grade. It is rather surprising that anyone is still studying law at all.

    Where else will 4 out of 5 graduates be viewed by their colleagues as failures and will be given a depression and an inferiority complex with the exams free of charge? You have to be pretty stupid to get involved. Of course, those present are excluded.

  • Dear Count Lukas,
    Ever heard of mandate secrecy? Obviously you are not very familiar with digital technology and, like over 80% of lawyers, are pure users of PCs and software. For information about security gaps beA: Dt Anwaltsverein-beA Streamhttps: //youtu.be/IZkPvqBgQ4w. Don't worry if you don't understand digital technology after the lecture! Rather, you can look forward to the fact that you can use mail and fax without having to fight viruses, Trojans, e.g. WonnaCry in 2017 and the like. Have fun with the “holey beA” - if in doubt, also with the resulting liability processes!

  • Remarkable: an industry that lacks work and young talent at the same time.

  • Then Legal Tech should also take care of Lieschen Müller, who wants to cry over the phone during her divorce ......

  • In short, the legal profession has to be attractive. That this has not yet been achieved is shown by sentences such as "but if they do come, then only as an employee and not as an economically responsible entrepreneur."
    Given the high standards, you shouldn't be surprised that you can't find any offspring. Why should a young professional take the economic risk when he can have comparable earnings as an employee?
    The times in which the fresh lawyers had no other option than legal independence are over for the time being.

    RA data protection
  • Dear colleague Huff and dear LTO editorial team, it is really annoying what kind of guest comments and nonsense on your side sometimes appears! Should this be a report including a factual discussion, maybe even criticism? How does colleague Huff always get the honor, are there relationships?

  • Jott o jott, how one-sided! At least I want to get rid of that.
    Everyone can make their own thoughts about it.
    In my opinion, nothing is commendable about the article. Actually, you could end the comment function and / or simply delete the article again.

  • The legal profession is no longer really attractive.

    Completely inadequate remuneration, completely exaggerated liability jurisprudence, too much competition from outside the field and a legal profession that is so divided that a meaningful, powerful representation of interests on one's own behalf is hardly possible.
    The market has been "opened up" in favor of large and large law firms. And unfortunately overlooked the fact that one should not think in terms of market categories if one actually wants / has to be an organ of justice.
    The legal profession has taken on a hybrid position, far too compliant, with which it now sits between all chairs: the administration of justice when it comes to patronage and liability, and merchants when it comes to personal responsibility and investment.

    Oh yeah In the 80s they hung a sign in front of their door saying "Here lawyer", and 5 years later they were rehabilitated. Today one cultivates exotic niche areas or maintains the best relationships with a bank board member, so that one can make problem-free but lucrative tolerance complaints in the documentary procedure. Otherwise it got tough. The costs are rushing away, the income is stagnating at a level that is not too lucrative, the nudity is rampant and the reputation is falling.
    Who else would like to be a lawyer?

    Stuttgart paragraph rider
  • Question: Have "perseverers" ever changed the world?

    Intolerance to + intolerance
  • If young lawyers prefer to work as employees, the existing small and medium-sized law firms should ask themselves why the framework conditions are that way. Whether it is money, leisure time, family planning or something else. In addition, nobody today feels like being exploited for 10 years and then becoming a partner, especially against the background that earning opportunities are not guaranteed and, in case of doubt, public administration and justice are available as alternatives. The partner model should also be questioned. You see it the same way with doctors, more and more people prefer to be employed instead of going into debt for years and then being free of debt by the age of 50.

    As for the Reno deficiency: Also self-inflicted. Many Renos earn ridiculously little compared to the responsibility and necessary competence. Also, many Renos are only trained to be better clerks. There is seldom further training and when it does, it is rather stingy. If you already earn more as an educator and have a less stressful job that may still offer job security and family planning, the decision should be clear to many.

    no matter
  • I'm getting more and more forgetful ...
    The best alternative is not to stop training at all. As a student in the youth organizations of parties, such as the SPD, maybe still Abitur, but drop out of studies despite a party-sponsored scholarship (no desire is enough) and then a member of parliament or high party office. Additional income from party-affiliated organizations or from supervisory board remuneration in the increasingly privatized public sector is more or less guaranteed.
    Keep it up Germany - LUCKY ON

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