Juristisches Internetprojekt Saarbrücken

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St. Louis Diary

"16:00 happy hour in the atrium - drinks and snacks provided"


Almost every day during my studies in Germany I have been watching out for such a sign - with no avail. In Saint Louis, however, this is a common thing. The school has several student organizations that are all looking for new members during the first weeks of the semester and that are introducing themselves with a cold beer and a slice of pizza. These social events are a very important part of the academic live. You can meet people, talk about law and whatever else and get the feeling, that the school is not only a place where you study, but an important part of your live.

By the way, I still remember my first day of law studies in Germany: one hundred and fifty law students gathered in a small classroom and the dean welcomed us with the words: "Look to your right, look to your left and you have seen two law students that will never graduate". Maybe that’s the Prussian way to handle things... The different social events, not only happy hours but picnics, sport activities and so forth, go together with the whole policy of the school: to provide the students with the best education possible and to assist them in every way. And it really works: the open door policy of the professors not only benefits the learning but supports the understanding between faculty and students. The library staff is very helpful - even if one is looking for German books with titles apparently no American can pronounce correctly (come on people, Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch is not such a hard word).

Some more facts about the library: Just as the "Seminar" in Germany the library is the heart of the School. It holds more than 530,000 volumes including a large selection of audio and video tapes (legal assistance as well as entertainment), computer assisted learning materials, CD-ROM databases and computer software. In a national ranking of titles held the library ranks 21st and it is the largest library in the state of Missouri. Apart from the several computers with Internet access that are set up all over the library, the school has two computer labs with some twenty Pentium computers each (and one Macintosh for those who really need it). The software installed on the computers includes Internet tools as well as Microsoft Office 2000 applications. In the main lab every computer has an attached DeskJet 500 printer for convenient printing (bring your own paper).

The most important feature though is the Westlaw and Lexis access, every student receives: if you thought, that research is convenient with Juris (a German legal information system), you have not tried Westlaw or Lexis yet. The idea is basically the same: computer assisted research. But Westlaw as well as Lexis do not only provide you with the citation and an abstract of a court decision or an article from a legal journal. Over and above that you can print out the whole decision or article using one of the research laser printers in the lab - no more wasted hours waiting in line for the photocopier or searching that very specific book somebody took from the shelf but never returned. For those who don’t want to use the public computers almost every working place in the library is equipped with an electrical outlet and a network outlet for easy access of the Internet via laptop. Most of the classrooms have the same feature and accordingly many students don’t use pen and paper to take notes but bring their notebook computers.

Later, Nils