Transformation of the German legal services market: Should corporate consultants be included in §59a BRAO in order to permit joint practices with lawyers following the model in England and Wales?

Veronika Lingg

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis investigates the possibilities and necessity of a further liberalization of the German Legal Services Act (Rechtsdienstleistungsgesetz) and especially the potential transfer of the Alternative Business Structures, which have been allowed in England and Wales since 2012, to Germany. Due to the restrictive position of the German legislator, lawyers are currently not allowed to build joint practices (Sozietäten) with corporate consultants. The results of the surveys and interviews conducted in the course of this work with both lawyers and corporate consultants point to the fact that lawyers are in general rather reluctant when it comes to changes within their profession, even though many see potential advantages of multidisciplinary joint practices with consultants. The overall perception of corporate consultants towards collaboration with lawyers is positive and the advantages such as interchange of professional knowledge, wider field of services offered and reduced costs outmatch the concerns. Nevertheless, the investigations further show that the traditional profession of lawyers indicates problems regarding their obligations such as independency, confidentiality and conflicting interests when working together with non-lawyers. The perspectives gained from the interviews make clear that these concerns could be resolved by an inclusion of the relevant article in the PartGG (Partnerschaftsgesellschaftsgesetz) (Partnership Corporation Act) and corporate consultants therefore need to fulfill the same duties than advocacy when working together with lawyers in a joint practice. Nevertheless, examinations showed that structures like those in England and Wales are too liberal to be introduced in Germany within the next years. External capital and non-lawyer ownership of law firms could be introduced in an alleviated form, such as minority shareholding. As the German legislator is quite reluctant when it comes to opening the legal market, one should - at least for the next years - focus on the admission of multidisciplinary joint practices since these alone could create an innovative and more efficient legal market and are able to reveal advantages for both the different professions but especially for their clients.

EducationsMSocSc in Service Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2014
Number of pages78