Lawyers are a key element in the success of business, guiding companies and their employees through a variety of complex legal matters. They oversee larger transactions and cases, ensuring that both sides are fully aware of their obligations, rights and duties to each other.
In Germany, attorneys Rechtsanwalt have certain statutory obligations towards their clients, from confidentiality to conflict of interest and handling client funds and mandatory malpractice insurance. If an attorney breaches any of these statutory obligations, the German Bar Association can reprimand or even revoke his or her license to practice law in Germany.
The central code of German civil law, the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, stipulates how agreements are made (including the contracts between the client and his/her German lawyer), what general contractual rights and obligations exist between the parties and what remedies are available to clients if their lawyer malperforms or violates their statutory obligations.
This Code also explains the underlying principles of the profession of lawyers, such as their obligation to respect secrecy, and their ability to be prosecuted for withholding information – like any other citizen or employee.
There are two types of lawyers in Germany: licensed practitioners and self-employed practitioners. Licenced lawyers are regulated by the German Federal Lawyers Act, and self-employed practitioners can be governed by their own professional codes.
A lawyer s duties to his/her client are also based on the Federal Lawyers Act, including his/her responsibilities to be independent of the company he/she is working for and the company’s management, and his/her responsibilities to ensure that the interests of his/her client are protected.
Many laws, for instance, require a lawyer to make a thorough investigation of a case. He/she must consider the relevant legal rules, the aims and objectives of the case and the facts, and must not act in a way that conflicts with those aims and objectives.
Moreover, a lawyer must be able to give his/her opinion without fear of retaliation, and must be impartial in assessing the legal merits and demerits of a case.
To achieve these aims, a lawyer must be a competent legal expert who is knowledgeable about all relevant facets of the subject matter and is able to communicate effectively with his/her client.
The profession of a lawyer requires a high level of integrity, which is why all licensed lawyers in Germany are required to undertake a rigorous professional development program and to attend seminars and conferences on various aspects of the legal field. In addition, all licensed lawyers in Germany must maintain a high level of professional ethics and must adhere to the Code of Conduct for Lawyers.