The concept of Law Clinics comes from the US where it is a tradition that students of law use their knowledge to voluntarily or as part of their formation give legal consultations to people who do not have access to professional legal aid (e.g. out of financial reasons).
In Germany free-of-charge legal advice only became attainable since the amendment of the “Rechtsdienstleistungsgesetz (RDG)” of 2008. The RDG makes it possible for volunteers to offer legal consultations as long as this happens under the surveillance of fully qualified jurists.
The Refugee Law Clinic Gießen was the first that made use of that new opportunity. She thereby became an inspiration for many other initiatives, e.g. in Hamburg, Cologne, Berlin, Munich, Regensburg, Trier and Leipzig.
The many challenges that refugees are confronted with during their asylum procedure and afterwards lead to a high need of consultations that can only partially be covered by professionals. Due to language barriers and ignorance of the German legal system this deficit often leads to a situation in which refugees cannot enforce their rights. Hence, many law clinics in Germany specialize in asylum and aliens law resp. closely related questions in e.g. social law. They thereby contribute importantly – especially in the face of current global and European refugee figures –towards the integration of refugees and migrants.
The law clinics allow for a practical addition to the theoretical teaching at universities. Students of law can collect important experiences in that context that can be of great value for their future working life, especially considering the present-day deficit of experts in asylum law. The RLC Gießen even won the “Hessischen Hochschulpreis für Exzellenz in der Lehre (2. Platz)” in 2010.
Aim of Refugee Law Clinics:
- Training of volunteers to consultants in matters concerning asylum, residence and administration law
- Support of refugees during their asylum procedure
- Linking of theory and practice for students of law inter alia through the determination of the facts of a case and their legal evaluation
- Encouragement of societal engagement relating to migration and integration