Let us go back to when everything started: in the autumn of 2000, it was ground-breaking to found a privately financed law school in Germany that was inspired by the American model. However, with today's hindsight, it is clear that broadening the focus of legal training in Germany by introducing international subjects and a curriculum with a mandatory study period abroad was long overdue. A fledgling law school might not have seemed like an obvious partner to established academic players, so building a stable international network to meet these objectives was a challenge for everyone involved.
"After the law school opened, it had to contend with two major tasks. It had to enter into cooperation agreements so that the students of its first year could spend a trimester abroad in 2002. Concurrently, it had to develop an attractive academic program in English for visiting partner-university students, as it was clear from the very beginning that integrating them into the bachelor program would not make sense for linguistic and content-related reasons," Kasia Kwietniewska explains. Having worked for the International Office since 2002, initially as a staff member and since 2008 as the department's head, she has sent more than 1,800 German students abroad and welcomed more than 1,600 international students to Bucerius Law School. "We were pioneers, and so were our four first partners. The University of Michigan in the USA, with whom we entered into the very first student-mobility agreement in December 2000, was one of them. Some months later the number had already risen to 30," Kasia Kwietniewska recalls.
Thus, two years later, the students who had enrolled in the first year could go abroad, and 67 students from 32 universities in 9 different countries came to Hamburg to participate in the first international exchange program on International Comparative Business Law.
Establishing a worldwide network
Thanks to the founding dean Professor Dr. Dr. Hein Kötz it was possible to build a partner network in such short time. The renowned comparative law scholar had formed contacts all over the world and successfully sparked their enthusiasm for our young law school. It was also his achievement to place the focus of the program for visiting students on international and, above all, on comparative business law. True to the style of this era, the first cooperation requests were made in handwritten letters; if you retrieve the contractual paperwork from the archives, it still emits the tobacco scent that the passionate pipe smoker had left behind. In the age of digitalisation, the pre-contractual process may not be that personal, but it is faster and indeed easier. The days when Bucerius Law School was the only one "knocking on doors" are long gone; nowadays the law school receives cooperation requests on an equally frequent basis from all over the world.