Lecture Hall and Courtroom Combined

10 10 2008
Innovations in law education at Heidelberg University – Ceremony to mark the opening of the Manfred Lautenschläger Lecture Hall
Happy faces at Heidelberg University’s Department of Law! In mid-October the Manfred Lautenschläger Lecture Hall was officially opened at a ceremony to mark the occasion featuring musical items and a variety of speakers. A generous donation from honorary senator Manfred Lautenschläger has provided the Faculty with an attractive, modern lecture hall that has been completed in time for the beginning of the winter term. As the lecture hall is modelled on the layout of a courtroom, the students can use it to simulate legal proceedings and practise their skills in so-called moot courts.

In their welcoming addresses vice-Rector Professor Thomas Pfeiffer and Dean Professor Christian Baldus enumerated the innovations recently introduced in law education at Heidelberg University and explained why the University owes a special debt of gratitude to its benefactor and honorary senator Manfred Lautenschläger. Subsequently, Professor Burkhard Hess, who was Dean in the period when the new hall took shape, spoke on the subject of “Moot Courts in Law Education”. Here, he said, the students learned things that had been formerly somewhat neglected on the teaching side but were none the less essential for their later professional activities: communication skills and powers of persuasion. Up to fairly recently the focus in law education had been on the judge’s perspective, but in moot courts the students had a variety of roles to play and this was an excellent preparation for those intending to become attorneys.

Study Dean Professor Ute Mager emphasised that the Heidelberg Faculty of Law attached major importance to the practical side of law education. For over ten years now attorneys have been involved in all classes laid on by the Faculty and every semester there are competitions motivating the students to refine their argumentation and negotiation skills.

The Lautenschläger Lecture Hall supplies the students with an ideal location for practising such skills. Professor Burkhard Hess said that the Faculty was “proud of the students’ wholehearted participation in national and international competitions and the outstanding success they have achieved in such contests.” Student teams from Heidelberg regularly do extremely well in moot court competitions all over the world focusing on international commercial arbitration (William Vis Moot), international law (Jessup Moot), European law and mediation. These competitions are all conducted in English. The Heidelberg students have been equally successful in national competitions of this kind, including those on tax law and the “el§a” moot courts.

Manfred  Lautenschläger (front) at the opening ceremony for the lecture hall named after him. In the background former Dean Prof. Hess, Study Dean Prof. Mager, present Dean Prof. Baldus and vice-Rector Prof. Pfeiffer (l. to r.).  
Manfred Lautenschläger (front) at the opening ceremony for the lecture hall named after him. In the background former Dean Prof. Hess, Study Dean Prof. Mager, present Dean Prof. Baldus and vice-Rector Prof. Pfeiffer (l. to r.).
Photo: Stefan Kresin

Rüdiger Trager of the architecture bureau Ap88, which was entrusted with the task of converting the venue for its new purpose, outlined the ideas behind the design of the Manfred Lautenschläger Lecture Hall and dwelt on the charm of the former Hotel Victoria in which the Department of Law is housed. He also indicated the considerable challenges involved in integrating the new, superbly equipped lecture hall into the existing ensemble.

Although he was the central figure of the ceremony, Manfred Lautenschläger, the generous donor, modestly took a back seat during the proceedings and only addressed the assembly right at the end. “It is a great pleasure to spend money on a good cause and to see how this place has changed,” he said, going on to add that these new developments made him feel like enrolling for the law course all over again, as he had done 40 years ago. He expressed his gratitude to the Faculty for teaching him a way of thinking that had stood him in good stead to the present day.

Please address any inquiries to
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Public Information Officer
Heidelberg University
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317

Irene Thewalt
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317
Editor: Email
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