When did you first set foot on campus?
I got to know Bucerius in the fall of 1998 when I started working as a research associate for our (now) Honorary President Karsten Schmidt at the University of Bonn. Of course, our institution was not much more than an idea at that time. Thus, I first set foot on campus on the day of Bucerius Law School’s foundation in October 2000. It looked way different back then…
What roles have you had since joining the Law School community?
In the very beginning—still in my solicitor traineeship (Referendar)—I was a tutor (Kleingruppenleiter). After my time in the US at Yale Law School, I returned to Hamburg and became an assistant professor (Wissenschaftlicher Assistent), extensively teaching in the LL.B. exam preparation program. Following the establishment of our International Exchange Program and, a few years later, the Master of Law and Business Program, I regularly gave lectures in these programs as well as in our Summer Programs. Since 2011, I am in charge of coordinating our cooperation with WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, and since 2016, I also serve as the Program Director Law in our master’s program.
Are you in touch with program alumni? Could you share an anecdote about someone who touched you during your tenure at BLS?
It is exciting to see what has become of our graduates since their law school days. Indeed, I am in touch with a good number of them. In fact, I even co-authored a book with one of the participants of the International Exchange Program, and I feel like I have met alumni even in the most remote places on earth. I think there are quite a few anecdotes, however, attending the wedding ceremony of a Slovene graduate who married a girl from Sicily—that certainly belongs to the most cheerful experiences.
You lead courses with students at very different points in their academic and professional careers. Isn’t that challenging?
I think a good lecturer should be able to explain complicated matters to different audiences. This is certainly challenging, but I think it first and foremost diversifies your personal teaching experience. Indeed, it is a different task to acquaint first-year students with the basics of, say, the law of obligations compared to holding a lecture on insolvency law for more advanced students or leading a unit in the exam preparation program. And teaching in the international programs is again something else: it’s not only about lecturing in another language, it’s about being confronted with totally different questions as the participants have been educated in other jurisdictions or have a business background and thus oftentimes address problems from another perspective.
You just mentioned teaching in international programs. That must be difficult as you’re obliged to make material accessible to students from rather diverse backgrounds—speaking here to culture, legal training systems, legal regimes, etc.
Absolutely. This is a task to be mastered, but it’s also good fun and offers variety. The benefit of this sort of classroom atmosphere is that you, as a lecturer, continue to learn all the time. Some difficult dogmatic problems in the German legal system have surprisingly straight-forward solutions in other jurisdictions. Sometimes a businessperson addresses a topic for which one believed it has a clear answer in German law. But then one has to ask oneself about the economic rationale of the legal solution in order to give a convincing answer. In addition to all that, one has to deal with different cultures and expectations. In some countries, students are not very familiar with asking questions in the classroom or actually solving cases and actively interpreting statutes. At the same time, these students might be extremely good in distinguishing the facts of cases or addressing social, economic or philosophical questions of the law and legal policy. I think having myself studied (and lectured) in the US, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, etc., has helped me quite a bit to balance the sometimes truly diverse expectations of the participants of our international programs.