by Christine Mingie
Since 1979, American law schools have offered accredited law courses abroad during the summer. Originally, 18 law schools offered 28 different programs overseas – now there are 154 different programs offered by 85 law schools. One of the best summer law programs abroad is the “Vienna Program” offered jointly by Loyola University School of Law and the University of Vienna Juridicum. The American Bar Association, which evaluates courses offered by American law schools overseas called Loyola’s “Vienna Program” first rate. And indeed it is. This summer, during my articles, I studied abroad in Vienna for a month.
The first part of the program was a two-week intensive course on the comparative legal systems and constitutions of Austria, Germany and the United States, which included an in-depth overview of Roman civil law. It was taught by Professor Herbert Hausmaninger, a leading Austrian legal scholar, and Professor Patrick Hugg of Loyola University, the program director. The course included several state visits and guest lectures.
During the first week, we were invited to a private reception and tour of the Austrian Parliament as the guests of Austrian Second President Thomas Prinzhorn. The following week, Austrian Criminal Court of Appeal Judge Dr. Michael Schwab, brought us on a tour of the court that concluded with a class lecture by Dr. Schwab and the President of the Criminal Court of Appeal, Dr. Alois Ramoser. For most of us, though, the highlight of the first part of the program was a private visit to Austria’s Constitutional Court where we met with the country’s chief justice, President Professor Dr. Ludwig Adamovich, for a discussion on comparative constitutional law.
During the second part of the program, students enrolled in seminars on various topics such as European Union law, international copyright law, European Human Rights and business law, taught by Austrian law professors or practitioners. My European Union law course, for example, was taught by two Harvard law grads living in Vienna, practising international corporate law. They brought a wealth of European corporate law experience to the course, unavailable in other summer law programs.
One of the unique aspects of the Vienna Program, compared to other summer law programs, were side trips to Prague, Salzburg and Venice organized by Loyola. After the first week of classes, we travelled to Prague for the weekend, and attended a Monday morning class at Prague’s Charles University. The next weekend, after our final exam in comparative law, we travelled to Salzburg for a weekend rendezvous with students from McGeorge School of Law who were studying International Human Rights with US Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. On Monday, we joined the McGeorge students for a lecture by Justice Kennedy on American constitutional rights. On the final weekend of the program, we travelled to Venice. Unlike the two previous side-trips, there were no classes scheduled in Venice and we were free to enjoy the city without hauling around our legal texts.
The Vienna Program was a phenomenal law school experience. Quite apart from the pleasure of studying in a city as architecturally divine as Vienna and the enormously fun side trips with professors and law students from around the globe, the courses were intellectually challenging and the legal scholarship was superb. As a result of demand from Vienna Program graduates, Loyola plans to offer CLE courses in Vienna for practicing lawyers in the summer of 2003.
For student information on studying law abroad during the summer, visit the Web site of the American Bar Association at www.abanet.org/legaled/studyabroad/abroad.html.
Christine Mingie is a third year law student at UBC.
This article was published in the October 2002 issue of BarTalk. © 2002 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.