The rule-setting body (Satzungsversammlung) of the German Federal Bar (Bundesrechtsanwaltskammer) convened in early May. One item on the agenda was a proposal to abolish the duty of lawyers to wear a robe in court. A majority one can oly describe as overwhelming rejected the proposal: 70 members voted against, only two memers were in favour of the reform. I personally quite like the ritual of putting on the robe before a hearing, and I would like to believe that it helps see you as of their kind, in our role of officers of the court (Organ der Rechtspflege).
The illustration is taken from the front page of Robert Boyle’s collcetion of essays (2nd Edition, London 1669).
I have written here before about Germany’s most exclusive bar, the fourty or so lawyers admitted to the Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) in civil matters. Every now and then, attempts are being made to reform this part of the German legal system. Mainly, these attempts take the form of challenges in the courts against the way the members of the bar are selected and appointed – thus far, these challenges failed. The current system has been upheld time and again by the Federal Supreme Court and the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht).
When the presidents of the German bar associations (Rechtsanwaltskammern), the self-governing bodies of the German legal profession, met earlier this month, two reform proposals for the Supreme Court bar were on their agenda. A very bold proposal suggested to abolish the exclusivity altogether and to open up representation at the highest court in civil matters to every lawyer. The second one was less revolutionary; it proposed to grant admission to those who qualified in a procedure similar to that for lawyers seeking to qualify as certified specialists (Fachanwalt) for certain areas of the law.