Each academic culture has its own customs and rituals. In German public law, the annual meeting of public law professors is much more than a conference. Together with their Swiss and Austrian counterparts, German public law professors have met annually since 1922 (with the exception of 1932-48) to discuss contributions carefully prepared and presented by selective speakers, which are meticulously analyzed by their audience. Failure in the eyes of colleagues may ruin an academic career, although participants report that the traditional rigidity has been eased in recent years. Given the prestige and exclusivity of the meeting, it is not surprising that it was copied by Germany's university assistants in public law, who under the German university system often have to wait until the end of their thirties to step out from the shadow of their “academic fathers” and obtain professional independence as professors in their own right. Thus, “young” German public law assistants – in partnership with their Austrian and Swiss counterparts – have also been meeting regularly over the past 45 years to debate various topics of public law and position themselves within the aspiring next generation of public lawyers; and the 2005 meeting in the Westphalian city of Bielefeld signals that the debate on German public law will indeed be enriched by some promising new scholars.