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Legal Reasoning Winter Term 2006 / 2007

This is a compulsory module held in the Winter Term 2006 / 2007 for students in their first year of the Masters in Law and Economics. Prof. Drolshammer had overall responsibility for the teaching. Following his absence in the fall term as Visiting Research Professor at Harvard Law School the module has been divided into two parts: one covering general principles taught in the first half of the term by Prof. Ivo Schwander and Dr. Patricia Egli and a more in-depth second part taught by Prof. Drolshammer in the second half of term together with selected visiting professors.

The module focused on the study of legal methodology, a subject traditionally taught in Switzerland with a civil law slant. The teaching here was built upon prior self-study of a substantial package of reading materials that covered the basics of legal methodology.

The general principles section in the first half of term was devoted to the application of the basic knowledge of legal methodology acquired through self-study and to a more in-depth study of certain issues in private and public law through case studies, judgments and selected academic articles.

The in-depth section taught by Prof. Drolshammer dealt with new and additional aspects of developing a more nuanced and broader understanding of legal reasoning, with particular reference to the function, formation, evolution and significance of methodology in various areas of law. Given the insufficient importance attached even in a national legal context to methodology, this part of the module was concerned with according equal and simultaneous importance to issues in specific areas of law, legal cultures and phases of legal development and making students aware of these. For example the function of methodology can vary and be specific depending on the different legal cultures, areas of law, phases of development of an area of law, the different realization of law in various fields of law and different historical and political conditions. One of the aims here was also to arrive at an international understanding of the role of methodology in the formation, application and enforcement of law in changing circumstances.

This broader understanding of methodology was conveyed in respect of different areas of law and legal cultures by visiting professors Prof. Arthur Miller, Harvard Law School, Prof. Dr. Marcel Niggli, University of Freiburg, Prof. Dr. Christine Breining, Universtiy of Zurich, Prof. Dr. Ernst Kramer, University of Basle and Prof. Dr. h.c. Bernd Rüthers, formerly of the University of Konstanz. The discussion that followed these lectures was on the basis of the texts that had been chosen for self-study by the visiting professors and had been included in the selection of readings.

There was also scope to take part in dinners with the visiting professors in small numbers.

Following the alignment of the continental European and Anglo-American academic years as part of the Bologna series of reforms, Professor Drolshammer will in future probably no longer be able to head the teaching of this module in Zurich because of his likely commitment as Visiting Research Professor in the fall term at Harvard University.

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