The concept of clinical legal education originates from the Anglo-American legal education. Law Clinics with different focuses are active at US-American universities, but also in Europe. Their goal is to offer legal support for socially disadvantaged persons. At the same time, students acquire deep and practically relevant knowledge in a specialized field of law already during their studies. An educational program teaches them the essential knowledge in refugee and foreign law, a field of law which is not (yet) an obligatory part of German legal studies. Advanced members of a Law Clinic apply their knowledge in practice by giving legal consultations under the supervision of university staff and practitioners.
The clients receive close and personal support by students within a Law Clinic. Often, Refugee Law Clinics are the first point of contact for those who cannot afford professional legal advice. However, Refugee Law Clinics cannot and do not aim to be a replacement for attorney work. The offer of Refugee Law Clinics comprises accompanying clients to public authorities, preparation for the interview during the asylum procedure, conducting country of origin research or referring clients to other appropriate counselling centres.
OUR LEGAL BASIS
§ 6 Para. 2 of the German Legal Services Act: “Anyone who provides free legal services outside of family, neighbourly or similarly close personal relationships must ensure that the legal service is provided by a person who is permitted to provide legal services against payment, by a person who is qualified to hold judicial office or under the instruction of such a person. Instruction requires induction and training which is oriented to the scope and content of the legal services to be provided as well as involvement in the provision of the legal service in so far as this is necessary in the individual case. “
The act strives to “[…] protect people seeking legal advice from the consequences of unqualified consultation. On the other hand, it aims to allow and encourage charitable pro-bono legal advice.” Because of this, the regulation needs to be interpreted in a way that “[…] ensures the quality of the counselling, even if the services are free of charge.” If legal standards are not met, the law prohibits the organization from giving legal advice (section 9 aforementioned law).
The justification of the law by the German Parliament (BT-Drs. 16/3655, S. 57 ff.) furthermore states that a reasonably qualified person must carry out the required instructions to protect the persons seeking legal advice. Advisors must be briefed on the vital legal aspects of their field so that they will be able to work most cases independently […]
“Additionally, the advisors – especially in small organizations – can be supervised by attorneys, who are responsible for instructional training and are available for any questions that could come up in the process. (BT-Drs. 16/3655, S. 58).“