Law and legal studies in Germany differ fundamentally from the system of legal education in many other European countries. The German legal education is based on the „Einheitsjuristen“ model. After successful completion of two state examinations (Staatsexamen) and two years of legal traineeship between these two examinations the lawyer is enabled to work not only as a judge in the courts, but also in all other legal occupations. This means that each student carries the same course through to become a ‘Volljurist’.
Students enrolled in the law programme targeted at the first legal examination at the Law Departement of Freie Universität Berlin should acquire the ability to comprehend the law and understand its philosophical, historical and economical foundations as well as the bases of law-making policy. In particular students should acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to practice the law and to learn the methods for evaluating both legal decisions and the shaping of the law and legal reality, as well as the criteria by which to do so. Another aim of the study programme is to establish a relationship with the legal practice but also to foster the students academic skills which also includes integrating findings of other fields of social science.
The law studies targeted targeted at the first legal examination consists of four different parts: the introductionary year, the intermediate year, the specialization year and the revision year. In addition vocational preparation courses have to be attended. The courses at the law department are held in German.
The introductory year is concluded by the intermediate examination, for which all modules of the first year have to be passed. The students will have two written exams each in the fields of civil and public law, one written exam and one term paper in criminal law as well as two further written exams in history of law and legal theory.
In the intermediate year students will continue to build up on their previous knowledge in three core areas of civil law, criminal law, public law complemented by the respective procedural law of each area and current European law verified by mandatory term papers and written exams. Also the students have to prove their scientific skills by writing a profound paper in an area of their own choosing
The elective specialisations of the specialisation year serve to build the profile of the law department and are determined according to the areas of expertise and research interests of the teaching staff. At the moments student may choose from seven different fields of specialisations:
The study of the specialisation year consists of modules from two ‘sub-specialisations’ in the respective field. The following university specialisation exam consists of two parts: a thesis (writing time: 8 weeks) in the first ‘sub-specialisation’ including an oral defence of the thesis (time: 30 minutes per candidate) and a 5-hour exam incorporating the material from the second ‘sub-specialisation’.
After the university specialization course and the university specialization examination the revision year reiterates all mandatory content of the whole study programme and is meant to prepare the students for the state examination.
The first state examination in the 9th term is set by the Joint Legal Examination Board of the States of Berlin and Brandenburg. The state examination consists of both a written and an oral exam part. The written part consists of seven exams each lasting 5 hours: three exams in civil law and two each in criminal and public law. The oral examination requires the student to make a 10 minute presentation, which is followed by 45 minutes of examination in civil law, another 45 minutes in criminal law and another 45 minutes in public law.
Regarding mandatory vocational preparation the students must pass a class which confirms their competence in the legal terminology of a foreign language of their choice. Also the student must acquire a certificate in a professionally relevant soft skills course (e.g. negotiation, communication skills, rhetoric, arbitration, mediation and interview techniques). Finally students must successfully complete a three-month internship at a court, law firm or administrative authority during vacations.
The specialisation year and the university specialization exam (see Course of Study) can be studied and completed not only at Freie Universtät Berlin but also at more than fifty international partner universities (see list). The courses there are held in the respective language of the country (see map below.)
The law programme targeted at the first legal examination (Erste Juristische Prüfung / Staatsexamen) integrates the possibility of obtaining a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) if the modules of the first six terms and the university specialization examination of the law studies targeted at the first legal examination are successfully completed. Afterwards the student can continue within the study framework of the first legal examination or opt out for the study of related consecutive master's programmes or even for a professional career.
Please note: To qualify for some legal professions e.g. judge, laywer, notary or state attorney in Germany, you have to complete the law programme targeted at the first legal examination, take a state governed legal traineeship completed with another legal examination after two years.
The Department of Law at Freie Universität Berlin has one of the best equipped specialist libraries in the Federal Republic of Germany, which is also valued and used by many law students from other law faculties. In addition to the specialist library (including parent-child rooms), the department has three large lecture halls and numerous seminar rooms, a cafeteria and a student cafe (Cafe Tatort).
The department buildings are framed by a green park landscape in the immediate vicinity (three minutes by foot) to the Henry Ford Building with the main lecture hall of the university, the central university library and the vegetarian canteen. The campus can be reached via the nearby underground station "Freie Universität" with the U3, which goes via Steglitz, Schöneberg, Kreuzberg, Neukölln to Friedrichshain.