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Career entry as a judge: "In the private sector I could have earned more than double that"


Alexandra Wolf became a probationary judge at the age of 26. After two qualifying exams, she could have received a significantly higher salary to start with. She decided against it. Why, she explains here.

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Judge Alexandra Wolf: "I prefer it when it comes to money rather than murder"

Photo: Eugen Smagin

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: Alexandra Wolf, 28, who always pursued the goal of being a judge - despite all efforts.

“I put on my black robe, straightened the velvet strip, and knew that no one would help me that day.

A Monday morning in winter, 9 a.m., in the district court of Heidelberg.

I got up nervously.

Today I went into the courtroom alone for the first time, knowing that I would later pass judgment there alone and sit across from lawyers, each of whom had probably seen more negotiations than I was years old.

"It will be incredibly exhausting, especially towards the exams."

The argument it was about was rather small.

For me, however, there was little bigger that morning.

I was the one who decided how he ended up.

I was a judge.

The first time all alone.

Bring divided parties together

I had known since high school that I wanted to study law.

I did an internship with a lawyer, saw the inside of a courtroom for the first time and had the opportunity to look at files in confidence.

Even then, I was impressed by the way in which judges manage to bring two highly divided parties together.

I noticed even then that I enjoy mediating between people.

Civil law, so I felt that very early on, was more mine than criminal law, for example.

After graduating from high school in 2012, I began studying law in Heidelberg.

I knew it was going to be tough.

I have no lawyers in my family, so I read a lot on the Internet and attended the university's open day.

How hard the course gets towards the end can hardly be understood from reports or narratives.

I don't know anyone who has marched through this course of study.

The preparation for the exam needs structure

Especially towards the exams it will be incredibly exhausting.

The preparation takes two years.

At that time I organized myself and prepared for the exam in study groups.

The most important thing is to find out how best to learn - and when.

My days went from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

I learned new things in the morning and early noon, the rest of the time I repeated and applied.

I stuck to my study schedule as slavishly as I did to the breaks afterwards.

In the evening I went running on the Neckar or with friends: I had a bike inside.

Better for money than murder

When my first exam became a distinction, one that was significantly better than average, it gave me a good feeling that my preparation was working.

I then did my two-year legal traineeship at various stations.

I worked at the court, at the public prosecutor's office, in administration and at a small and large law firm.

It's a part-time job, the rest of the day you study for the second exam.

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Wolf in the courtroom: "The robe creates a certain aura"


Eugene Smagin

The traineeship is more about applying the law, that was a bit more important to me.

You write judgments, so you put the law into practice in a more practical way.

In my legal clerkship, what I had noticed earlier was confirmed: I was drawn to civil law.

I like it more when it comes to money than murder.

55,000 euros for a 41-hour week

With the written result of my second exam, I applied to the state of Baden-Württemberg for the judiciary.

The hiring takes place via the Ministry of Justice and Migration Baden-Württemberg.

The grade in the second state examination is decisive for the professional aptitude to be allowed to work as a judge.

In addition, the recruitment process also includes a personal interview with the personnel officer at the Ministry of Justice.

The point here is to check personal suitability.

I got a confirmation of employment as a probationary judge at the regional court in Heidelberg.

At the age of 26.

Judges: are paid according to grade, I started at level R1, level 1 with about 55,000 euros gross per year, with a planned 41-hour week.

"Especially people who don't want to wear masks are not always easy."

In the free economy I could have made more than double that.

But also worked 60 to 70 hours a week.

It wasn't worth it to me - and to become a judge, that was always my goal.

I mainly used the first few weeks to exchange ideas with experienced colleagues, learn from them, look at negotiations and soak up experiences. That helped me to get in. At the regional court, civil cases in dispute over 5000 euros are negotiated, often with several judges: inside so-called chambers. Especially in cases of major importance. I often wrote the draft judgment as a rapporteur or as an observer in the hearing. However, I conducted most of the negotiations alone. The pure negotiation is only half of a judge's working time anyway, a lot is also preparation: What are the facts? What evidence is there? What is the legal situation? What stuff:come inside? Who do I have to teach? Do you have to renegotiate? Such questions.

Since December last year I have been a judge at the district court in Wiesloch. There was an acute need for personnel there. So I was transferred. There is a psychiatric clinic in the village, which is why decisions about encroachments on fundamental rights for patients often have to be made quickly - for example, if someone is admitted there against their will. Apart from that, judges at the local court are also responsible for all minor criminal offenses and administrative offenses or civil law disputes in this municipality, things that are less than 5000 euros in dispute. For example, I take care of illegal parking or corona violations. Especially people who don't want to wear masks are not always easy. But I rarely have problems with disrespect.

Corona influenced my career entry in many ways. For a long time only the most urgent issues, such as some custody issues, were negotiated, others were suspended or resolved in writing. For me it wasn't that easy at all. I want to speak to people personally, be a mediator, in the best case achieve a comparison. The settlement is an alternative to a judicial judgment. The parties concerned agree on a solution. A comparison is based on the fact that both approach each other; it represents a compromise. In the best case scenario, all parties are satisfied with a comparison. That also makes me feel good about my job.

From December on, I will be with the public prosecutor's office for two years during my probationary period, this is what is planned.

I've never worked as a prosecutor and I'm excited to see what's to come.

So how things will go on after that, I will let myself be fully approached. "

Have you just started your career yourself and would like to tell us about it?

Then write to us at

Source: spiegel

All news articles on 2021-09-23

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