C.V. | Max Planck Research Group | Publications

Research Interests
Private Law; international sales law; consumer law; comparative law; cultural diversity; law and society; legal anthropology; legal methodology; jurisprudence and legal theory; legal education

Research Area(s)
Europe (especially: EU, Germany, and Switzerland)


Mareike Schmidt studied law in Würzburg and Berlin (Humboldt University) and passed her First State Exam in 2007 with a specialization in private international law and comparative law. She then studied at Tsinghua University in Beijing, obtaining an LL.M. in Chinese Law and winning the Best Thesis Award for her thesis, ‘Compensation Standard for Urban Demolition and Resettlement’ (2008).

From 2008 to 2012, Schmidt worked as a research assistant for Professor Ingeborg Schwenzer at the University of Basel, Switzerland. During that time, she taught Swiss Law of Obligations and worked on her dissertation, entitled ‘Produktrückruf und Regress’ (Product Recall and Recourse), obtaining her doctorate (Dr. iur.) in 2012 with highest honours (summa cum laude). This comparative study on product liability law and law of obligations won the Professor Walther Hug Award in 2013.

Driven by her interest in improving legal education through research and practice in legal pedagogy, in 2012 Schmidt took up a postdoctoral position at the Center for Legal Education at the University of Hamburg, which she held until 2015. From 2013 to 2016 she did her legal traineeship (Referendariat) with the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court Hamburg, with clerkships at, among other places, the German Embassy in Pretoria and the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (German Development Corporation – GIZ) in Tbilisi. She passed her Second State Exam in 2016.

In 2016, Schmidt was appointed Juniorprofessur für Zivilrecht und rechtswissenschaftliche Fachdidaktik (Assistant Professor of Private Law and Legal Education) at the University of Hamburg. In the winter term 2021/2022, she was a Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities ‘Law as Culture’ in Bonn. From September to December 2023, Schmidt held a position funded by the Volkswagen Foundation at the University of Hamburg, working on the project ‘Change in and Through Law – Digital Transformation and Climate Change’. This ongoing project is being carried out in collaboration with Professor Roland Broemel (University of Frankfurt) and Professor Angela Schwerdtfeger (University of Göttingen).

For the past several years, Schmidt’s main research interest has been the role of cultural diversity in core areas of private law, which forms the basis of her Habilitation project, supervised by Professor Reinhard Bork (University of Hamburg) and Professor Ralf Michaels (MPI for Comparative and International Private Law/University of Hamburg). In this project, she combines an expansive study of case law with foundational and doctrinal approaches to law. Building on this research, Schmidt has been appointed Head of a Max Planck Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Department Law & Anthropology, in Halle (Saale) in 2024. The working group’s project, ‘Contract Law’s Cultural Embeddedness’, will further explore aspects of culture in law, specifically contract law, and combine theoretical and empirical research to this end.

Promoting the use of empirical research – particularly of a qualitative nature – in law, its application, and its effects is a central concern of Schmidt’s work, which she also advances as co-editor of the blog Rechts|Empirie (‘Law’s Empirics’). She is also a dedicated teacher in her fields of research and has been awarded teaching prizes at the University of Basel (2011) and the University of Hamburg (2017 and 2018). She has been a co-editor of the only German-language journal on legal education, Zeitschrift für Didaktik der Rechtswissenschaft (ZDRW), since 2022.

Why Law & Anthropology?

In a culturally diverse society, the discipline of social anthropology opens up crucial perspectives on the intricate relationship between culture and its impact on individuals’ lives. This knowledge is invaluable to both legal scholarship and the pursuit of an inclusive application of the law. Concurrently, the field of legal anthropology has long delved into the complex interplay of diverse normative systems, offering considerable inspiration to legal theory. Furthermore, the integration of anthropological methods into socio-legal research enhances our comprehension of how law is executed by professional actors, facilitating a more nuanced understanding of its practical application.

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