Fri, Apr. 22, 2005

The End of Foreign Internships?

CK - Washington.   German lawyers in training with the government before their admission to the bar may train abroad for some three months at an office of their choice - in private practice, at an international organization, at an embassy or with a corporate law division. To date, interns traveled to their foreign host at their own expense. That seems fair because the elective nature of this stage of the education benefits primarily the intern, secondarily the host, and not at all the government agency which employs the intern for educational purposes.

An EU court ruling of March 17, 2005, docket number C-109/04, Kranemann v. North-Rhine Westfalia, against the German land that authorized such an intern to travel to London for an internship changes the rules. The land will have to reimburse the travel expense of the intern, the court held.

The decision may backfire. Future generations of lawyers in training may no longer receive authorization to perform internships abroad if the land authorities change the rules. And why shouldn't they? Foreign education offers no measurable benefit to the employer who is, after all, only a temporary employer until the lawyer has completed the practical training phase and passes the second exam for lawyers. A small portion of such laywers will take a job with a land; the vast majority enter private practice. It is the private sector that rewards the benefit of foreign experience, hardly ever the public sector.

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