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An Interview with Johannes Jäger, Foreign Law Intern

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Today’s interview is with Johannes Jäger, a foreign law intern at the Global Legal Research DirectorateLaw Library of Congress

Describe your background.

I come from the Eifel, which is a region in the westernmost part of Germany, near the Belgian and Dutch borders. After graduating from high school in the picturesque town of Bad Münstereifel, I served in the military as a conscript, then enlisted for a second year and completed the reserve officers’ training in the German Army. This enabled me to discover and explore my own country, because the military sent me to several other regions and cities like Dresden and Munich. I also participated in multi-national NATO exercises and in exchanges with our allies, for example the French armed forces.

What is your academic/professional history?

Johannes Jäger. Photo courtesy of Johannes Jäger.

My academic studies led me to four universities, beginning at the University of Bonn, the former West German capital. After a study abroad program in Lausanne in the heart of the breathtaking Lake Geneva region where I studied Swiss, French, German and international law, as well as French language and culture, I finished my law studies in Würzburg, Germany, Bavaria’s wine region. I graduated from law school and passed my First State Exam, and received a certificate in common law studies and a certificate for accompanying studies in European law (with the title of “Europajurist (European Jurist)”). Since then I have been working on a PhD thesis on the organization of political parties in the United Kingdom (UK) with a special focus on intra-party democracy and the selection of party leaders. I also stayed one semester at the University of Exeter (UK) to conduct further research on that topic. Besides working on my doctoral thesis, I have gained experience as a research assistant at the universities of Würzburg and Frankfurt, and in two major law firms in Frankfurt.

How would you describe your job to other people?

At the Law Library of Congress, I support the specialist for German-speaking jurisdictions, Dr. Jenny Gesley, by conducting research and drafting memos on a wide range of legal topics, from administrative law to zoning law. The foreign law specialists receive inquiries from Congress, executive agencies of the U.S. government, and courts, but also from private persons and companies.

I’m very grateful that the expert for French-speaking jurisdictions, Nicolas Boring, also invited me to help him with his research, so that I can use and improve my knowledge in French law and that of other French-speaking jurisdictions.

Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?

The first time I heard about the foreign, comparative, and international law department at the Law Library of Congress was during my time in Würzburg where one of my academic teachers, Dr. Karin Linhart, told me about this unique institution; it is the biggest law library in the world and a legal research facility always at the forefront of progress and process and at the intersection to politics.

I have been actively involved in politics since my formative years as a member of the (Young) Christian Democratic Union party in my home county, my region, and the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. In addition to that, I interned at the European Parliament in Brussels and the German Bundestag in Berlin during my studies. I always strive to learn more about parliamentary work and the law-making process in Germany, the European Union, and other countries.

The internship at the Law Library of Congress enables me to connect my legal and political interests. It aligns perfectly with my future career goals, because I could imagine working as a legal expert closely connected to the political world.

What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?

Recently I learned that the Library of Congress holds a copy of the Koran that was originally owned by Thomas Jefferson. The first Muslim Congressman, Rep. Keith Ellison, swore his ceremonial oath upon this very copy of the Koran a few years ago.

What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

As a young teenager I was very much into Star Trek, especially the Original Series, Next Generation, and Deep Space 9. Although I don’t really speak Klingon, I understand at least a few words.

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