Since the University of Zurich was founded in 1833, jurisprudence has been an intrinsic part of its identity: besides theology, philosophy, and medicine, the Faculty of Political Sciences was one of the first subject areas at the new Universitas Turicensis. The increasing significance of jurisprudence was sharply emphasized in 1920 when the Faculty of Political Sciences was converted into the Faculty of Law and Political Sciences.
The decision to make law, business, economics, and associated subjects independent of the other faculties in 1969 gave the Faculty an organizational framework by dividing it into a legal and a business and economics department. In 1992, the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Business, Economics, and Informatics emerged from these two departments.
Compared with its present size of over 3,700 students and more than 50 professorial chairs, the Faculty, which numbered five professors and 26 students, was very modest at the outset. Yet with Friedrich Ludwig Keller (1799-1860) and subsequently Johann Caspar Bluntschli (1808-1881), the most important figures in the establishment of modern Swiss jurisprudence, the Faculty had outstanding and influential jurists among its ranks in this early phase. Members of the Faculty also decisively shaped jurisprudence in the 20th century, such as Fritz Fleiner (1867-1937) in administrative law, Zaccaria Giacometti (1893-1970) in constitutional law, or Arthur Meier-Hayoz (1922-2003) in civil law.
However, the history of the Faculty also includes tragic mistakes such as the case of Emilie Kempin-Spyri (1853-1901), who did not receive the venia legendi until 1891, after a long struggle because of her gender (Venia legendi of Emilie Kempin-Spyri). The memory of this failure is as much a part of the Faculty’s present existence as the knowledge of its achievements and successes.
Prof. Dr. Andreas Thier
Chair of Legal History, Ecclesiastical Law, Legal Theory, and Civil Law
The RAI building was awarded the "Chemical Landmark Award" in 2016. Read more about the history of the RAI building and the award ceremony here. For more information, see the Exhibition Poster on the Building History of the Chemical Landmark Rämistrasse (PDF, 14 MB). Building History Chemical Landmark Rämistrasse.