Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2013
Every lawyer admitted to the German legal profession has an independent duty of professional secrecy in accordance with the profession's rules and regulations. This duty represents an indispensable pillar of the unique relationship of mutual trust between lawyer and client.
In Germany, every lawyer is admitted to the competent regional Bar. There are twenty-seven regional Bars altogether, and one Bar at the Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Supreme Court of Justice) in Karlsruhe. These twenty-eight bars are in turn members of the German Federal Bar, which has its seat in Berlin.
In Germany, a lawyer may either practise in a self-employed capacity in his or her own law practice, or as an employed lawyer in a law firm. Alternatively, members of the legal profession may also work as in-house lawyers (Syndikus-anwälte) for commercial businesses or associations.
This chapter focuses on the professional secrecy of self-employed lawyers and lawyers employed by law firms, or working for a law firm on a freelance basis. First, this chapter will provide a general outline of the scope of the duty of professional secrecy and then discuss in greater detail some of the most relevant exemptions from the duty of secrecy.