How to get legal advice or representation in court if you have limited means or a low income.

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Here's how to go about consulting a lawyer if your means are limited, you are not a member of a trade union (Gewerkschaft) and you do not have legal costs insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherung)...


Make an appointment to see a Rechtspfleger (paralegal) at the Rechtsantragstelle located at the Amtsgericht responsible (see link below) for the city in which you are registered. In urgent cases you can go without an appointment but you should show up early and be prepared to wait.


Apply there for a Beratungshilfeschein (a voucher covering all but 15 Euros of a lawyer's initial consultation fee). When you go there you will need to bring a number of *documents (including a prepared application form Antragsformular) with you in order for the paralegal to be able to accept your application and issue a Beratungshilfeschein.


Make an appointment to meet with a(n English-speaking) lawyer who is a specialist in the correct field of law (Strafrecht, Mietrecht, Vertragsrecht, etc..) and allow him or her to advise you about the form the process should take.


Once they've reviewed your case they will probably recommend you to engage them formally as your legal counsel so that they can then prepare and submit papers on your behalf.


They will need you to sign a couple of forms to appoint them as counsel (Mandat) with power of attorney with you as their client (Mandant ) and an application form for legal aid (Prozesskostenhilfe  PKH) so they can then apply to the court for further assistance with court process costs on your behalf.


* This English-language PDF describes the documentary requirements for courts in Bavaria but the conditions for courts in most of Germany are practically the same.

Beratungshilfe : Legal Advice assistance - What to bring wrt your case and info on income, outgoings, savings, etc.. Amtsgericht Muenchen (PDF)


It is however possible for a Rechtsanwalt/in to submit an application for Beratungshilfe directly to the court on your behalf. In legal aid matters you are thus free immediately - even without a legal aid certificate - to contact a lawyer who has a responsibility under § 49a BRAO (Bundesrechtsanwaltsordnung) to grant legal aid. The application for legal aid is submitted in this case directly by the lawyer in the district court.

The disadvantages in doing so are that

a.) without a Beratungshilfeschein you may eventually have to pay more than 15 Euros for your initial meeting and

b.) a fair part of the time they had scheduled for your initial advisory meeting will be taken up with verifying your input on the Antragsformular.

Therefore it is advisable to;


download from (e.g.) the Amtsgericht Heidelberg - Formulare page the application forms

1) Beratungshilfe Antrag,

2) Beratungshilfe Antrag auf Zahlung der Vergütung,

3) Prozess- und Verfahrenskostenhilfe Formular zur Erklärung über die persönliche und wirtschaftliche Verhältnisse and the

4) Beratungshilfe Hinweise and Prozess- und Verfahrenskostenhilfe Hinweise PDFs and READ the Hinweise (advice)


Then fill out, as far as you can, the application forms before going to your lawyer.


Take with you all documents as per the 'Erforderliche Unterlage' listed in the Hinweise.

Those documents are generally:
Identity card or passport with personal registration certificate (Melde- bescheinigung/bestätigung)
Proof of income (e.g. last 3 months pay statements, BaFöG, ALG II Bescheide, etc.)
Rent contract
Bank statements for the last three months
Evidence of regular ongoing payment obligations and any special debits/charges
Documents relating to your legal problem (eg letters or notices to and/or from a civil opponent, a court, the police, public prosecutor, etc., etc..)

To find an English-speaking lawyer use the  Extended Search (for Lawyers in Germany) : DAV - German Lawyers Society search tool and fill out the boxes according to the tips on this screenshot.



These 2 articles may help you understand the billing practices of lawyers in Germany better;

Attorney fees under German law: a courtesy summary for English speakers and/or expats living in Germany

Lawyer's fees and costs in Germany


Verfahrenswert (more commonly used in Familienrecht), Streitwert or Gegenstandswert = a value governed by the circumstances as a basis upon which the lawyers fees are to be calculated according to the RVG - Rechtsanwalt Verguetungs Gesetz: Lawyers Fees Act * which replaced the former BRAGO [Bundesrechtsanwaelte Gebuehrenordnung] law).


The laws governing the charging of lawyer's fees and costs and express them mostly in the form of factors (e.g.: 0,5 or 1,3 or 2,1 or 3,5 etc.) set according to the specific activity undertaken and for which a client may be billed.


*See also the NEW English translation > Law on the Remuneration of Attorneys - Index (Gesetz über die Vergütung der Rechtsanwältinnen und Rechtsanwälte - RVG) paying attention to Appendix 1 for a table of Gegenstand/Streitwert values and Appendix 2 for the numerical list of work types and their multiplication factors.


Note also that various Sections of the text of the law and the related items in Appendix 2 refer only to certain fields of law (e.g. civil,criminal, tax, social insurance and unemployment, etc.)


You may be able to work out an approximate cost:risk calculation or you can ask your lawyer to do so in advance (bearing in mind his time taken to do so is billable too).

Some further clues:

Gegenstandswert, Streitwert, Verfahrenswert - Scale of Costs

DAV - Kostenrechner | German Lawyers Society - Fees Costs Calculator - Court Disputes

Anwaltskostenrechner - Anwaltsvergütung sofort berechnen


In a disputed case those costs apply to the lawyers representing both parties. Usually courts order the losing party to assume their opponent's costs so that amount could double.


However it should not be assumed that such awards of costs are made automatically.


German courts, whilst dealing with each case on it's individual merits, tend to be very open to legal arguments based on constitutionality, case history, academic expert opinion and, to a certain degree, principles of fairness.


German lawyers should be expected to argue over much of the procedural matters from selection of judge to division of costs.


I've linked to English translations where possible - otherwise - try your luck with's Yoda-English* for small excerpts of the laws or complete webpage URLs. 

*see NEWS far below!


Code of Civil Procedure | ZPO in English  <--Title 7 Section 114 – 12X covers the basics of PKH  ZPO | Index | Text in German


German Civil Code BGB - Index


German Civil Code BGB | Full Text HTML


Introductory Act to the German Civil Code (EGBGB) <--for cross-references between the BGB & the EGBGB


BerHG - Gesetz über Rechtsberatung und Vertretung für Bürger mit geringem Einkommen



German Criminal (or Penal) Code - StGB - English translation


StPO German Code of Criminal Procedure - Index


List of Laws available in English Translation


Most of the following sources of legal information are primarily intended to serve the legal profession and people working in civil administration but, if you are resourceful and dogged in your navigation and can stay awake long enough when reading them, you may find some key arguments buried amongst them.


Internationale Rechtshilfe Online - NRW: International Legal Cooperation - Civil & Commercial Trade Law - Official Databank


Justizportal des Bundes und der Länder: German Federal & States Electronic Legal Communication (Courts & Authorities) English page


Justizportal des Bundes und der Länder: Federal and State Courts: Standard Forms and Applications


d e j u r e . o r g : German Legal Databank - Laws, Acts, Judgements, References, Quotations, Information, Research Tools,


juris - Das Rechtsportal: Index of Legislation in Germany (German) German Legal Acronyms & Titles of German Laws and Acts Collection of German Legal Weblinks


juris - Das Rechtsportal: Index of Legislation in Germany (German)


Address Finder for German Courts (example set for "Landgerichten in Hessen" - Please use site navigation to suit your needs)

NB: Most of the above information has been accumulated over several years and some may even have been specific to other individual's needs.


That said I have revised and edited it from time to time (to the degree my abilities and free time allowed) in the hope it may serve as a generic source to whomever may have need of it.


If any of the above links have become broken or dead please try looking for the article (by title or key words) using the local site search and sitemap of the original host website.


If that fails to help then copy/paste the title or a snippet of the text into (!!! NB use the German .de!!!) .


Future TTers WILL no doubt appreciate the posting of any updated current links you may find. Thanks!


NEWS: is a swifter and smoother translator than


Any questions?


There'll be a test on this tomorrow (whatever day today is!)



Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and none of the above purports to be legal advice. In Germany only qualified Juristen or Rechtsanwaelte are authorized to give legal advice.


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Thanks to the admins/mods for pinning this topic! :)


As mentioned above all TTers are welcome to add any updated links or other practical and related info.


However you should not post any questions related to your, or your friend's, personal legal problem here.


If you do so they will be ignored until the mods have time to merge them with a suitable existing topic or post them as the OP of a new topic.


Consequently it would also be appreciated if established members spotting any such examples reported, but did not respond to, them.


Thanks in anticipation of your cooperation.




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