Lateral rise: Even those who do not have a high school diploma can become a lawyer (symbol picture)
Photo: Maria Dorner / plainpicture
The start into working life is exciting, exhausting - and often completely different than planned. In the series
The start into working life is exciting, exhausting - and often completely different than planned.
In the series
"My first year in the job"
young professionals tell how they experienced this time.
This time: Kevin, 29, became a lawyer in a roundabout way.
"If my life were a career advisor, it would be: 'In a roundabout way to a dream job'. I went to secondary school up to the ninth grade and then passed the secondary school. Instead, I looked for an apprenticeship. After doing school internships at a court and at a notary, I knew that I was interested in law, so I applied to a law firm in my hometown - and was accepted.
The training to become a paralegal lasted three years.
After that, I had the feeling that I couldn't learn anything new in the office, so I switched to a larger one.
I was only accepted into the large law firm because I was relatively good: I had completed my training with a grade of 1.2.
I did there for two more years
further training to become a legal specialist.
Helping people to solve their problems is what I enjoy most: you explain the legal situation to them and advise them what to do.
I had to learn to make complex decisions quickly - it was an intellectual challenge every time.
Legal specialist in the large law firm
When I was just 22, I finished my training and asked myself what else I wanted to achieve professionally.
Work forever as a legal specialist?
I was still young!
It bothered me that I wasn't allowed to do everything in the office because I hadn't studied.
Mainly I took care of public contracts: If a state client like a school wants to modernize the heating, the state must treat all heating companies equally and should not favor anyone.
I compared the offers of the service providers and kept the files, but was only allowed to advise in part - a lawyer later had to check and sign my work.
In this job I could not have climbed higher, I had reached the glass ceiling.
"In the law firm I was told that there is only one royal road to law and that everything else is less worthwhile - first high school diploma, then university degree"
I was particularly angry: In the law firm, I was told that there is only one royal road to law and that everything else is worth less - first high school graduation, then university degree.
But with the further training I had qualified for a law degree at every university, my final grade was simply converted into an Abi grade.
So I was allowed to study law, take my state examination and become a lawyer myself without having to take my Abitur.
I didn't think that was possible at secondary school!
With professional training for the state examination
In the 2015 winter semester I enrolled at a university in southern Germany
for the law course.
Most of my fellow students were younger than me, many had just graduated from high school, and I was one of the few with a vocational training.
Some of them had prejudices because of this, and even rejected me.
I didn't care.
Then later they asked me if I could give them tutoring.
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I passed my first state examination within four years - within the standard period of study.
It wasn't difficult for me because I was used to working at least 40 hours a week in the law firm.
I invested even more time in my studies.
The training was actually an advantage because I had learned to structure myself and to complete tasks quickly and effectively.
I also worked as a student assistant at my chair, and in the fifth semester I also gave tutorials.
Work as a lawyer at the university
Since January 2020
I now have my exam and work part-time as a research assistant for public law at my old university.
I create PowerPoint slides for the lectures, coordinate the simulated court hearings for the students, do literature research or digitize the content for online teaching.
I earn 2000 euros gross per month.
I could imagine doing this job for another two years and then starting the second state examination.
I still need that to be able to work as a lawyer or judge.
However, through the contact with the students, I became more and more interested in teaching - I would really like a position as a lecturer.
I'm just afraid I would miss the practical work, real cases and negotiations.
"In such cases I am not the friend, but the lawyer"
However, there are moments when I struggle with the law, when I am at least sorry that the legal situation cannot be changed.
Whenever I speak to friends or acquaintances, I notice time and again that their values do not match the paragraphs in the code of law, they complain about the legal system - for example in judgments in criminal law, where the presumption of innocence applies: in case of doubt, for the accused.
I, on the other hand, have to argue factually.
In such cases, I am not the friend, but the lawyer.
In the first few years of professional life I learned that perseverance pays off.
I didn't have the right degrees and had to work my way up to get into the big law firm and later to the university.
I didn't even have my Abitur and still made it to the state examination.
That makes me proud today. "