The Law Department at the University of Osnabrück is one of the youngest law schools in Germany. In the winter semester of 1980/81, the school opened its doors for 140 students.
Instead of a fully equipped library, the department initially made do with the reference books held by individual professors. However, the school was soon able to implement an extensive reference acquisition program, and 10 years later there were over 100,000 books on the shelves. Today this number has ballooned to about 330,000 volumes, which can be found in the departmental library, as well the individual institute libraries within the school. Additionally, students now have online access to legal databases, with the departmental and institute libraries offering a total of more than 650 workstations.
From the very beginning, the department cultivated its own profile. Particular emphasis was placed on teaching business law and economics, a mid-degree examination (Zwischenprüfung) was introduced, which was ground breaking at the time, and theory and practice were combined by involving practitioners in teaching.
The department soon formed academic specializations (Schwerpunkte) in the form of institutes. Early on the school saw for formation of the Institute for European Law (1985 - Prof. Dr. Rengeling), the Institute for Finance and Tax Law (1987 - Prof. Dr. Mössner), the Institute for Private International Law and Comparative Law (1987 - Prof. Dr. von Bar), the Institute for Municipal Law (1989 - Prof. Dr. Ipsen), the Institute for Procedural Law (1990 - Prof. Dr. Schilken), the Institute for Commercial and Business Law (1990 - Prof. Dr. Baums), the Institute for Business Criminal Law (Prof. Dr. Ransiek).
This specialization was supplemented by the introduction of new degree programs. First, the Magister Legum (LL.M.) was established for foreign graduates. This was followed by the LL.M. Tax Law (until 2020) and the LL.M. Business Criminal Law (until 2020) as well as the LL.B. Business Law.
The esteem in which the department is held has also been reflected in the number of academic associations who have held their annual conferences in Osnabrück. In 1997, for example, the department hosted the annual conference of the German Teachers of Constitutional Law. This was followed in 2006 by the conference of the German Society of Tax Law followed, in 2007 the German Association of Teachers of Criminal Law, and in 2008 the conference of Teachers of Civil Procedure.
The original number of 13 professorships has now been increased to 20 (1.4.2022), regularly employing around 60 graduate research and teaching assistants. With approximately 2,200 students, this results in an extremely favorable instructor/student ratio.
On November 5, 2005, a ceremony was held in Osnabrück Castle in celebration of the department's 25th anniversary. Keynote speaker was the then Lower Saxony Minister President and later Federal President Christian Wulff, who had begun his law studies in Osnabrück in the winter semester of 1980/81 and was one of the school's first graduates.
Today the department, with its focus on business and European law, is organized into four institutes: the European Legal Studies Institute, the Institute for Company and Business Law, the Institute for Constitutional, Administrative and Business Law, and the Institute for Commercial Criminal Law. The study of the digitization of law and jurisprudence also complements the department's offerings across disciplines and institutes. This is reflected not least in the fact that a new focus area Digital Law was established for the winter semester 2021/22.
Due to the Corona pandemic, the department's 40th anniversary celebration was unfortunately canceled. In its place, the professors and emeriti of the department prepared an anniversary publication, for which they wrote partly very personal contributions under the motto "What I am reflecting on at the moment". The publication also contains, for the first time, a complete list of all doctorates completed in the department.
In addition, the alumni association OsnaLex e.V. was founded in 2020 to serve as a forum for graduates, friends, and supporters of the Department of Law and to facilitate post-graduate networking.
Over the course of its existence, the Department of Law at the University of Osnabrück has been the training ground for more than 5,000 law graduates. In addition, more than 800 doctoral students have obtained a doctor iuris, and 19 post-doctoral dissertations (Habilitationen) have been successfully completed. Since the winter semester of 2021/2022, doctoral students in the department have also had the opportunity to combine their dissertation work with the new Doctoral Program in Law.