Beyond individuals

The legal system does not always merely deal with the rules and formation of citizens’ legal relationships with each other, as is the case in so-called “private law” or the classic “civic law”. One of the main, indispensable democratic and constitutional tasks of the lawyer is also the observance of individuals’ interests against super-ordinate and superior institutions, even if they are established by the constitution.

Even the enlightened modern state with its divided powers is always in danger of being thrown out of joint or getting out of hand and thereby interfering with the rights of individual citizens. Even national legal acts can be unlawful. An (individual) order or a (general) decree can contradict the law. Indeed, even a law itself can be unconstitutional.

An essential facet of the traditional statutory duty of lawyers – representation in court – thus represents the protection of the individual from encroachments from national authorities and the observation of his interests in administrative procedures as well as in the courts of public law, the constitutional court, the administrative court and also the independent administrative senates and independent financial senates – and since very recently also the asylum court: this checks whether a case is on hand where the state has wronged an individual – because in the end it is not the citizen who should be there for the state but the state for the citizen.

Hereby another function of the lawyer is addressed and it is one of the most essential – namely the national political function. In the past this function has time and again prevented the rise of totalitarianism and the dogmatisation of the wrong power. To curtail the view of law and not of the “private sphere” and also never to forget the meaning of the “public sphere” presents one of the main duties of correctly understood legal self-conception. It is precisely because of this that the lawyer was always a public person, in dialogue with the public sphere – not only as an individual or as a law firm like us but also as a professional organisation and representation in chambers, which should never stop exerting public influence on legislation, jurisdiction and administration.



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