Tanja Barton
  • Theme Law (climate protection law, new energy law, agricultural and environmental law, commercial law)

Prof. Dr. iur. Tanja Barton

What fascinates you about being an HAW professor?

Definitely working with young people! Accompanying students in a very peculiar phase of life, in a professional and personal way, fascinates me anew every semester.

For the first time, students can freely decide what they want to study and where, move out of home, organise their own lives, shape their future independently, and get to know many new people and influences. These are very unique times in life that leave their mark. I think it's great to be a part of the HSWT "university family" with all its opportunities! My job is to give them input in the field of law that they will benefit from for even longer - as a lawyer and a human being. That is definitely a fascinating task!

What do you particularly appreciate about the HSWT?

"More than studying, shaping the future!" - that was and is our best advertising claim (and much more) from my point of view. That's what HSWT is all about. That's what life is about. That is our mission.

The consistent focus on the "green subjects", the spacious "green campus", the family atmosphere and the human factor at the centre. For this, we stand up every day.

The challenges of the future are vast. Sometimes they seem overwhelming. The Corona pandemic is a current example. In addition, we are concerned with climate change, environmental protection, world nutrition, species protection and water supply - to name just a few. It takes a University of applied sciences like HSWT to recognise this.

With our orientation, we tackle THE future issues of our time: competently, scientifically and practically. At HSWT, studying is not for its purpose but rather for "shaping the future". At the end of their studies, students should be "fit" to contribute professionally and privately, to solve urgent problems and to master challenges - because Greta Thunberg is not the only one who rightly says: "Change is coming - whether we like it or not".

What was your personal path to the HAW professorship? Where did you gain practical experience outside the University of applied sciences?

I came to the HAWT in the winter semester of 2011/12 as a mother of two small children and after seven years as a lawyer in the life sciences sector in Munich's largest law firm with around 150 lawyers. My time as a lawyer was very captivating, and I am still in excellent and close contact with my former "law firm", a German-British-American law firm in Munich.

Before that, I worked as a research assistant at the "Institute for Environmental and Technical Law" at the University of Trier and wrote my doctoral thesis on "Biopatents". I spent my legal traineeship at the Higher Regional Court of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg with stations at the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs and, among others, the European Patent Office in Munich.

In addition to my law studies in Germany's oldest city, Trier on the Moselle, I also completed the Fachspezifische Fremdsprachenausbildung für Juristen (FFA) in Anglo-American and French law with numerous native-speaking lecturers from the European Court of Justice and other institutions and companies in Luxembourg.

I have always been interested in international contacts and have, for example, studied for a year in Orléans/France with Erasmus and gained numerous experiences abroad, including in Brussels, USA, France, Luxembourg and most recently in 2016 together with my family during my internship semester in Singapore.

What challenges have you successfully mastered during your time as a professor?

A little joke in advance: an endless number of meetings in self-administration of the University of Applied Sciences (I have been an elected member of the faculty council for a good ten years, was already programme director of the Bachelor's programme "Management of Renewable Energies" for five years, and much more). I think everyone involved in self-administration of the University of Applied Sciences knows what I mean ...

But now to other challenges. My very broadly based professorship of law is definitely one of these challenges. As the only female lawyer at the Faculty AE, I am responsible for all legal majors and minors in all three Bachelor's and two Master's programmes. It ranges from commercial law, renewable energy law and "climate protection law" in the international and European field to agricultural and environmental law and subsidiary subjects such as trademark and competition law or consumer protection law in the food sector.

A former colleague from a large law firm once said when looking at my range of subjects: "My goodness, you cover the topics of 5 specialist lawyers at the same time! Even if you can set priorities and don't have to reinvent the wheel all the time, it is a great challenge to always "stay on the ball" and be up-to-date with this large range of subjects. I am happy to take on this challenge. Admittedly, it was very tough in the first two years, but now things are "running smoothly", and I think I'm doing an excellent job.

Another challenge is doubtless the "multitasking" and the many different roles in life between family and work. Here I can only advise every woman and mother to build a good functioning network - and of course, with children (especially several children) - it doesn't work without a partner equally committed to them. In our home, everyone helps to ensure things "run smoothly" - and that is a good experience. I think a lot of education by both parents and raising children to be independent.

I think the creativity and freedom of the profession of university professor also bring a lot to mastering challenges of everyday life. Working in the private sector, but also in a "normal" public authority, often means being much more bound to predefined processes and routines and thus more "external determination" compared to a professorship. The freedom in the work process is unpretentiously very high here, both professionally and organisationally. I have always worked a lot for the job I enjoy, whether at the university, in a large law firm or at the HSWT - but of course I prefer to be as independent and self-determined as possible. That doesn't exclude a healthy work-life-balance, but rather explicitly includes it.

What is your most important recommendation to women interested in this profession?

Most important: As a woman, at last stop "stacking the deck" and focusing on your own "blind spots". Nobody is perfect! Instead: Focus on your own talents, skills and goals! I never had the thought that I couldn't achieve something professionally only because I also wanted to get married, have a family and be a mother. And that is also good. However, I have often heard that differently, especially from older female colleagues and friends, in my life. In this respect, I am perhaps the representative of a new generation.

My personal recommendation: do what you really want to do; be self-confident, be good at your job (mostly automatically if conditions 1 and 2 are fulfilled ...); don't let it get you down; don't be too hard on yourself; stay curious, learn conflict management, deal with setbacks constructively; "soft on people, hard on facts"; stay undaunted, don't forget your sense of humour - and develop sustainably!

In this spirit: Welcome to our University of applied sciences, the HSWT! Being an HAW professor is a great job and a strong vocation. You can move a lot!