Hartmut Kahl '07

June 7, 2007Duke Law News

Interview with


Name: Hartmut Kahl
LLM 2007
Home: Germany
Law School: University of Leipzig




  1. Where is home? What is it famous for?
    I grew up in a quiet small village in the Ore Mountains (southern East Germany) which still is home for me whenever I visit my parents there for a couple of days. Though my roots are tied to the City of Leipzig where I lived for the last six years and went to law school. Leipzig hosts one of Europe's major book fairs and is famous for its 600 year old university. The composers Bach, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and Schumann lived and worked there. A few years ago Leipzig applied desperately to host the Olympic Games of 2012.
  2. You have a strong music background and are now a member of the Duke Chapel Choir, could you share us with some experience at the Chapel Choir?
    Singing in the Duke Chapel Choir twice a week is a great opportunity to recharge the batteries and get in touch with people beyond law school. I appreciate the unique sense of community, the wide range of the repertoire and the pretty high standard of professionalism. The performance of Handel's Messiah and our latest concert tour to Spain belong definitely to the most remarkable experiences during my year at Duke. I made a lot of friends among the Duke students, employees and Durham residents who sing there and know for sure that I will miss the Chapel's sound and spirit.
  3. What made you decide to go to law school? Why did you choose to pursue an LLM at Duke?
    First and foremost I wanted to feed my personal and professional independence by studying international and comparative law in the U.S. I believe the ever growing recognition and reputation of the Duke LLM program in Europe enhances one's chances to end up in the desired field of working once.
  4. What do you like most about Duke so far?
    The opportunity to choose among the wide selection of courses and the way how the professors care for the individual student give you the feeling to have access to all the knowledge available on this campus. At the same time Duke brings people from all other the world together with whom you can build lifelong friendships and networks.
  5. What is your plan after graduation?
    I will pursue my second German law degree after finishing my dissertation.
  6. We’ve been told repeatedly that it takes so long to train a lawyer in Germany. Could you summarize the education and practical training one has to go through to become a German lawyer?
    Since Germany has no college system you attend law school right after highschool where you are trained for at least four years in legal theory and statutory interpretation. Having finished this academical education you have to pass your first Bar Exam which is supervised and sponsored by the Department of Justice.
    After another two years of internships and clerkships in the judiciary, advocacy, and public administration as a so-called “Referendar” you are eligible for the second and final state sponsored Bar Exam which entitles you to work as a licenced lawyer.
  7. What advice will you give to international students studying in American law schools?
    In the United States law is not just a normative framework but a mirror of society. So my advice is to be updated in major political, economic and social developments. Sometimes it is just amazing to see the impact of last week`s class topic on reality when you have a look in the newspaper. Take advantage of the way how the classes are taught and sharpen your skills and mind by making each claim and argument as convincing as possible. Last but not least, be prepared to read a lot due to your schedule.
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