20 Highlights from 20 Years of Legal Research

Bucerius Law School is an academic university where the concept of the unity of research and teaching is truly implemented. Here are twenty milestones from our first twenty years, that marked the way towards our current research profile: from the appointment of the first five professors to the upcoming 500th doctorate.

Announcement of the first professorships


In May 2000, the first five professors are appointed to Bucerius Law School:

  • Prof. Dr. Thomas Rönnau
    Chair of Criminal Law I – Criminal Law, Criminal Business Law and Law of Criminal Procedure
  • Prof. Dr. Hanno Merkt
    Alfred-Krupp Chair of German, Foreign and International Private and Commercial Law
  • Prof. Dr. Doris König
    Chair of Public Law, General Administrative Law, International and European Law
  • Prof. Dr. Christian Armbrüster
    Chair of Private Law I
  • Prof. Dr. Axel Kämmerer
    Chair of Public Law I – Public Law, Public International and European Law

Twenty years later, the faculty of Bucerius Law School consists of 21 full-time professors, 16 of whom hold chairs. In addition, there are eight affiliate professors and seven honorary professors. Students are actively involved in the appointment process by evaluating sample lectures.

Opening of the first research institute


In September 2001, Bucerius Law School opens its first research institute: The Institute for Foundation Law and the Law of Non-Profit Organizations.

Five other research institutes and centers follow in the years after:

The internationalization efforts in the field of teaching expand in the following years to include the field of research. Foreign language publications and international research stays, as well as research visits for incoming scholars are promoted. Bucerius Law School and its research institutes adopt a pioneering role in the internationalization of legal research in Germany.

First completed doctorate


Almost three years after opening its doors, Bucerius Law School awards its first doctorate. Anne Schöning has written a doctoral thesis on "The Private Benefit of Foundations in German and Spanish Civil Law" as a research assistant at the Institute for Foundation Law and the Law of Non-Profit Organizations. The thesis is evaluated with magna cum laude.

Appointment of Professor Karsten Schmidt as Dean


Vice Dean Karsten Schmidt takes over the Dean's office from Hein Kötz. According to his own assessment, Schmidt "slid" into the office although he, as an executive board member of ZEIT Foundation (Bucerius Law School's main donor) and co-founder of the Law School, always wanted to avoid being on both the donor and recipient side. The art of conducting serious business in a positive and team-oriented manner marks his style of leadership. Internationalization is being further advanced. Schmidt holds the office until 2012.

Completion of first postdoctoral thesis


In December 2006, Bucerius Law School celebrates its first postdoctoral thesis: Dr. Mario Martini successfully completes his habilitation with the topic "The Market in the Sovereign Distribution System – Possibilities and Limits of a Market Controlled Public Distribution System". Today he holds the Chair of Public Administration, Public Law, Administrative Law and European Law at the German University of Administrative Sciences in Speyer.

Since 2006, an additional 15 habilitations have been successfully completed at Bucerius Law School.

Opening of the new library


Research finds a sanctuary: the library building, created by the architectural firm MPP Meding Plan + Projekt, blends harmoniously into the campus and its glassy facade highlights the tradition of the existing greenhouses in the surrounding Planten un Blomen park. With over500 work spaces, the airy and spacious Hengeler Mueller Library offers ample capacity for research work.

Publication of the first Bucerius Law Journal


The first issue of the Bucerius Law Journal is published in spring. It is the result of a student initiative and is based on the model of law journals at US universities and includes German as well as occasional foreign language publications.

The editorial team consists exclusively of students, research assistants and graduates of Bucerius Law School. The editorial team is supported by a scientific advisory board of professors. Henceforth, the journal will be published twice a year.

See most recent edition

Accreditation of the German Science Council


The German Science Council grants Bucerius Law School institutional accreditation. In its assessment, it states: "In the eight years since its founding in 2000, Bucerius Law School in Hamburg has developed a distinctive profile characterized by an academic focus on business law with an international orientation. The school's academic productivity measures up to that of any German law faculty". The second institutional accreditation is granted in 2018.

Appointment of the first affiliate and honorary professors


In 2008, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Reinhard Zimmermann FBA FRSE, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law, is appointed the first Affiliate Professor. Dr. Christoph H. Seibt, LL.M., Partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, becomes the first Honorary Professor.

These appointments underscore Bucerius Law School's profile as an academically ambitious university with a focus on international law, which fosters connections between science and practice as a reciprocal exchange.


First honorary doctorate


Professor Richard M. Buxbaum, Berkeley School of Law, becomes the first honorary doctor of Bucerius Law School. As a member of the founding committee, he provided the school with advice and support in its early years.

In November 2014 Professor Dr. Peter Hay, Atlanta Emory University School of Law, is awarded the second honorary doctorate.


Founding of Bucerius Law School Press


Bucerius Law School Press is the school's very own publication platform. With its founding, Bucerius Law School provides a further impulse in the publication of innovative ideas and research results. The aim is to rapidly enrich the academic discourse in hybrid form with digital publishing models. Open Access guarantees maximum visibility and dissemination of the work. Martin Vorberg, founder of the publishing house: "We stand for Open Access because it is the ideal way to disseminate scientific information. Simply put, the work on which a doctoral student has been working for two to eight years is available worldwide and free of charge within two hours."

Interview with Martin Vorberg about Bucerius Law School Press


Appointment of Professor Dr. Doris König as the first female Dean of Bucerius Law School


Change in top management: After eight years, Professor Doris König, previously Chair of Public Law, General Political Science, International and European Law, takes over the Dean's office from Professor Karsten Schmidt and moves into the newly created position, the Claussen Simon Endowed Chair of International Law. Professor König has known Bucerius Law School since its founding and continues to lead the school on its successful path in the spirit of Gerd Bucerius, up until her appointment as a judge on the German Federal Constitutional Court in 2014.

Professor Katharina Boele-Woelki appointed Dean


The Board of Trustees at Bucerius Law School appoints Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Katharina Boele-Woelki as Dean. The law professor, who has previously been working at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, replaces provisional head and Vice Dean Professor Dr. Karsten Thorn.

According to the new Dean, the success story and pioneering role of Bucerius Law School is both an obligation and an incentive. The goal is to position the school as a driving force in the further development of international, innovative, legal research and teaching.


Appointment of the first Alumnus as Professor


Bucerius alumn Benjamin Raue, who started his studies at Bucerius Law School in 2002, takes over the Chair for Civil Law, Intellectual Property and Information Society Law at the University of Trier in August 2016 and rebuilds the position. After studying at Bucerius Law School, he received his doctorate from the University of Kiel. His research interests and focal points include Internet law and questions surrounding digital networking.

Foundation of the Center for Doctoral and Post-Doctoral Studies


When the reform of the German doctoral system comes into force, a new center is founded at Bucerius Law School. It is tasked with organizing and accompanying the academic work of doctoral and post-doctoral candidates and promotes exchange among young legal scholars.  

One year later, it is renamed the "Center for Academic Qualification" (Zentrum für wissenschaftliche Qualifikation - ZQ). The ZQ is the point of contact for all matters concerning the doctoral and post-doctoral process, develops the doctoral program further and acts as both a driving source and consultancy.

Publication of the first “Bucerius” research magazine


The opposite of a classic research report: With the biennial research magazine "Bucerius", the school now presents its research fields in an attractive and modern layout. The magazine reflects the research profile and is intended to invite exchange and cooperation at a high academic level.

To the research magazines



Start of Joachim Herz U.S. Exchange Program for Young Legal Scholars


New opportunities for young scholars: together with Bucerius Law School, the Joachim Herz Foundation launches the transatlantic exchange program "Joachim Herz U.S. Exchange Program at Bucerius Law School for Young Legal Scholars".

Doctoral students, post-doctoral students and junior professors at Bucerius Law School, as well as young scholars (Ph.D., JSD and Tenure Track Lecturers) from selected U.S. partner universities, have the opportunity to receive funding for a research stay at a foreign university. Comparative and international legal topics are the focus of this program.

First-time award of the doctoral prize


The doctoral prize is donated by the law firm Noerr LLP with an endowment of 3,000 euros. With the endowment of the doctoral prize, Noerr aims to promote academic excellence and encourage young lawyers to deal with legal and social issues in an academic manner.

The previous award winners are:

  • Dr. Anika Klafki (2017)
    “Risk and Law - Risks and Disasters in the Conflict Area between Effectiveness, Democratic Legitimacy and Rule of Law Principles using the Example of Pandemics”
  • Dr. Corinna Coupette (2018)
    " Legal network research. Modelling, quantification and visualization of relational data in law”

The extraordinary achievements of our young scientists are also recognized and honored by third parties: In 2019, Dr. Tino Frieling receives the Science Prize of the German Bundestag for his dissertation "Will of the legislator and legislative materials – Case groups of binding resolutions of will” published in 2017.


Start of the Interdisciplinary Program for Legal Research


A new program is launched to strengthen interdisciplinary research at Bucerius Law School. Over the past decades, legal research has developed further with the inclusion of neighboring disciplines. Important research results have emerged because legal scholars use analytical and empirical methods, central concepts and research results of neighboring disciplines.

The Interdisciplinary Legal Research Program offers opportunities such as hosting international guests for research purposes, workshops and lecture series as well as support for post-doctoral students.

500th doctorate


On October 21, 2020, the 500th doctoral exam was held at Bucerius Law School. We congratulate the candidate Kilian Wegner on the successful completion of his doctoral studies! Currently, there are 260 doctoral procedures taking place at Bucerius Law School.


Subscribe to our International Academic Newsletter and receive information about our international activities in the field of legal research.

20 Years Bucerius Law School

20 Years Bucerius Law School