Reader question: Is Pforzheim city councilor Oana Krichbaum really a lawyer?

20 May 2023

Pforzheim. Lawyer - that's what it says on the announcement of the nominations for the election of city councilors in 2019. And that's behind the name of Oana Krichbaum. She is also referred to as such on the website of her Berlin employer. But is the wife of the CDU member of the Bundestag and European policy spokesman for the CDU/CSU parliamentary group Gunther Krichbaum even allowed to call herself that? That's what a PZ-news reader who doesn't want to be named asks.

The answer from the Berlin Bar Association, where Oana Krichbaum is registered, is clear: no. The lawyer has been licensed since May 2011 and is also listed in the Federal Bar Association's nationwide official list of lawyers - but as an "Advocat". The reason for this can be found in the law on the activities of European lawyers in Germany (EuRAG). This regulates the conditions under which lawyers from EU countries and Switzerland are allowed to work in Germany. It states, among other things, that European lawyers must use the professional title of their country of origin. In the case of Krichbaum, who studied in Romania, this is the designation “Advocat”.

When confronted with this legal situation, the Pforzheim city councilor was initially surprised, but after a period of reflection she commented in detail. She first clarifies that her application for admission to the Stuttgart Bar Association as a resident European lawyer was submitted in April 2011. In the application, the National Association of Bar Associations of Romania (Uniunea Nationala a Barourilor din Romania) confirmed that she had "acquired the status of a lawyer" and was "registered with the Bucharest Bar Association on July 3, 1991," she quotes. This means that she is “authorized to practice the profession of lawyer in accordance with Law 51/1995 on the organization and practice of the legal profession,” she clarifies. Krichbaum explains that she is not allowed to negotiate in German courts and is therefore only active in an advisory capacity.

Krichbaum then describes the dilemma with the legislation. On the one hand, there are the names from Greece, Croatia or Iceland that “need more translation” (Dikigoros, Odvjetnik/Odvjetnica and Lögmaur), says Krichbaum. On the other hand, the term “lawyer” applies in Liechtenstein or Austria. “This alone makes it clear that there is no 'ranking' within the terms, but that they are placed next to each other on an equal footing,” emphasizes Krichbaum.

“In everyday use, every lawyer from a state in the European Union will say that he is a lawyer,” Oana Krichbaum.

Conversely, the same thing would also be said about him - if only because the terms that existed in the countries of origin appeared “sometimes simply incomprehensible” in another language area. That's why hardly anyone in public reporting would speak - fictitiously - of an Ügyved Szabó, but rather of a lawyer Szabó (in the Hungarian case), says Krichbaum. “In my opinion, anything else would contradict the reality of life,” she makes clear. In legal transactions, this is more formal, as you have to state the professional organization to which you belong in your country of origin. “Personally, I don’t know that a client has ever complained that I didn’t communicate this openly,” said Krichbaum. However, she asked her company to adjust the entry on the website.