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Friedrich K. Kubler, leading scholar on corporations, banking and mass media, dies at age 81

October 25, 2013

Friedrich K. Kubler, emeritus Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a preeminent German scholar in the fields of communications, First Amendment, and corporate law, died October 22 at his home in Germany after a long illness. He was 81.

Kubler was an internationally recognized expert on corporations, banking, and mass media. A prolific scholar, he wrote or co-wrote more than 20 books and monographs, as well as more than 100 articles, in contract and property law; corporations, banking and securities regulation; and mass media and legal theory, many of them comparing American with European legal structures.

Kubler’s textbook on German corporate law went through six editions and was translated into Spanish. He also published a textbook on German mass media law.

“Fritz was one of the kindest, most gracious and beloved colleagues and teachers I have ever known,” said Law School Dean Michael A. Fitts. “He was adored by everyone who knew him and will be greatly missed.”

Robert Mundheim, who was Law School Dean when Kubler joined the faculty in 1985, added: “Fritz possessed the open mind, the intense intellectual interest, instinctive fondness of others, and sense and sensibility which won the admiration and affection of colleagues and students around the world. He was the Law School’s most effective bridge to foreign academic communities.”

“Fritz was a scholar of great range and depth and had a remarkably cosmopolitan, balanced perspective on all issues,” said Richard J. Herring, Jacob Safra Professor International Banking at Wharton, who jointly taught a course with Kubler for MBA and Law School students and collaborated with him on other projects. “Understandably, he was frequently asked to serve on many commissions of wise men. I could always rely on him for sound advice, always delivered with his customary good humor. He will be missed by all who knew him.”

Kubler was member of the American Law Institute and served on the boards of the Deutscher Juristentag (the German equivalent of the American Law Institute) and the German Association of Comparative Law.

He was a Commissioner of the German Interstate Commission for the Regulation of Media Concentration and served on the board of the Hessian Public Service Broadcasting Entity. He was also a member of the European Shadow Financial Regulatory Committee and of the Frankfurt Academy of Sciences.

Born in Reutlingen, Germany, in 1932, Kubler studied law at the Universities of Tubingen, Lausanne, Reading/Berkshire and Bonn. Early in his career he was a law clerk for several courts, administrative agencies, law and accounting firms in and near Stuttgart.

Kubler began his teaching career as a lecturer at the University of Tubingen, where he received his Dr. iur.

In 1976, he was appointed Professor of Law at the University of Frankfurt/Main, where for two decades he directed the Institute for Banking Law and where he founded and co-directed the Institute for Domestic and Foreign Mass Media Law, also serving as Dean of its Law School in 1988-89.

Kubler was a member of the Penn Law faculty from 1985 to his retirement in 2011. He taught courses in international finance, European Union law, corporations, comparative corporate and capital market law, and comparative mass media law. For more than a quarter century, generations of Penn Law students looked to him as a mentor and model of international legal engagement.