DAJV Internship Service

The Internship Service of the DAJV provides German postgraduate legal interns (Referendare) and in exceptional cases highly qualified students support in finding internships with partners in the US.

The program serves to build goodwill between Germany and the United States and to further expose emerging legal and business leaders in Germany to the basic concepts of American law. Since its inception in 1980, the program has fostered understanding amongst German and American lawyers and provided a foundation for ongoing professional cooperation and enduring transatlantic friendships.

We very much welcome an eventual co-operation amongst our organizations. Just fill in our questionnaire and we will get back in touch.

Dr. Sarah Sammeck
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Upon passing his or her first of two state admission exams, a then referendar must serve as a civil servant (Beamter) for two years of practical, on-the-job training, which is broken up into various training stages, the duration of each being determined by the Federal State (e.g., Bavaria, Hesse, North Rheinland Westphalia, etc.) in which the referendar is pursing admission to practice.

During this two-year period the referendar must clerk 3 to 6 months for a judge at a civil court and a district attorney, work for the government or local authorities and for practicing attorney(s) (attorney stage 1 and 2), the latter of which generally lasting for a period of 4.5 months each, as well as an elective stage of ca. 3 months. Often referendars choose to spend the latter three states (attorney stage 1, 2 and elective stage) with one or more U.S. law firms, a legal department of a company, a NGO or an international organization. This is where your firm`s assistance would be greatly appreciated.

As a German civil servant, the referendar will continue to be paid by the German government. During the internship, the referendar is not a U.S. employee. In general, no costs are incurred for your firm`s participation in the internship program.

In order to give a referendar a general overview of the U.S. legal system and the workings of an American law firm, legal department or other organization, he or she is customarily entrusted with a broad range of legal and business topics and assignments.

The typical training for a referendar may be briefly described as follows:

  • Reading jurisprudence/case law/legal documents to learn specific legal and commercial terms and concepts.
  • Instruction on legal structure, American case law and methods employed in its drafting.
  • Methods of conducting U.S. legal research.
  • Attendance of lectures on legal, political and economic issues being offered by groups such as the German-American Chamber of Commerce, local bar associations or the American Foreign Law Association.

Most referendars express interest in attending court hearings and assisting and experiencing the actual tasks associated with corporate transactions. A referendar should be tasked with understanding relevant literature in legal practice and trained in the use of online systems. As it may be the case that the referendar will only come with a general understanding of US legal practice, he or she may be limited to participating in a mere observer role in gaining insight into American law and practice as well as hands-on tasks such as office management and paralegal assistance.

The referendar should be mentored by one attorney or a small group of attorneys, whereby a German practice group is ideal as moreover, the referendar would be most able to assist in the latter`s work. He or she should report to the assigned attorney/group on a regular basis. Indeed it is difficult to quantify how many hours should be devoted to instruction and on-the-job-training, as the two are inextricably intertwined. However, a referendar and supervising attorney should expect one hour of personal contact per day (e.g., sitting-in in negotiations/meetings/court proceedings) with the rest of his or her time being devoted to performing tasks associated with on-the-job training/research etc.

The role of the DAJV in the application process is as follows: Our referendar members may take part in the Internship Program for free. Non-member referendars are charged for the service (e.g. receipt of our US partners address list). Member applications are accompanied by an advance letter from our organization, in which we confirm that the intern is taking part in the Internship Program which serves to enhance his or her chances. Beyond this, there are no further guarantees of successfully procuring the internship. We have only limited access to the applicant´s personal or educational data. The DAJV is not accountable for the success of the internship or the applicant’s suitability for a position. No legal agreement exists between the referendars or students and our organization beyond that pertaining to mere membership in the DAJV. Moreover, no legal agreements exist between the DAJV and our US partners participating in the Internship Program. As a non-profit organization, our aims are furthered through good-will and mutual cooperation, and we hereby seek to enhance American-German cooperation and the transatlantic dialogue on legal and business issues.