Sunday, 8 November 2015

Are there English-speaking countries that have a Civil Code? And are there non-English-speaking countries without a Civil Code?

Working on my taxonomy paper – one of the reviewers doesn’t like the variable on ‘English as one of the official languages’. Now, I’ll use whether countries have a ‘Civil Code’ (including countries with a Code of Obligations but not simply a contract act) as a proxy – based on the thinking that those two variables are fairly well correlated. But there are some differences, based on data for 156 countries:

Civil Code

So, which type of countries are behind the two exceptions?
  • The eight countries with a Civil Code but English language are some of the mixed legal systems, ie English is one of the official languages but there is distinct (sometimes even dominant) civil law influence, eg, Eritrea, Mauritius, Malta, Philippines.
  • The 18 countries without a Civil Code but also without English language are the Nordic countries, a minority of countries from the former Yugoslavia and the Middle East, some mixed legal systems (Israel, Sri Lanka), and some countries which are typically classified as common law one but which don’t have English as an official language any more (eg, Bangladesh, Cyprus, Nepal).

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Comparative Law – 2nd edition? – suggestions?

Just published a bit more than a year ago but I’m in early discussions about the second edition of my Comparative law book.  What shall I change? 

I have some plans – which I won’t disclose here…. but I’d also be very happy to get some comments and suggestions via email

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Academic staff lists of law school websites: what’s mentioned?

Sunday morning empirics - first the results:

(and n)
PhD / Dr mentioned
Ranks mentioned
Order by rank
US (10)
UK (10)
Australia (6)
Canada (3)
Singapore (1)
Hong Kong (1)

Method: I looked at the top 100 universities of the Times Higher ranking, then excluded the non-Anglophone universities and those without a law school, and capped the observations to ten per country (relevant for the UK and the US). Then, I checked the academic staff lists/faculty directories of the law school websites (ie the main list, not further sites which may provide additional information), and counted (i) whether doctorate titles were mentioned, (ii) whether ranks were fully mentioned (Professor, Associate Professor, Lecturer, etc; ie not just Prof or Dr), and (3) whether the website is ordered by those ranks.
   Now to the results of the table (with the >66% fields highlighted): interesting to see a US/UK split in terms of mentioning PhD titles with Singapore and Hong Kong, but not Australia and Canada, following the UK in mentioning them. Ranks are usually mentioned but some exceptions in the UK, Canada and Hong Kong – while in Australia and Singapore it may go further in terms of ordering the staff lists according to rank.
   The question remains: what explains those differences and how should it be done (ie should one emphasise or de-emphasise hierarchies and titles)?

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

What did I do this summer?

This blog post should have been written a while ago, but with the beginning of the academic year there is now no denying the fact that the summer is really over. So what did I do (work wise)? Some talks and event, in reverse order:
Looking at it, it doesn’t seem so much but kept me busy enough. Oh, and the picture is of course Carlos Drummond de Andrade and someone else in Rio.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

The (slight) positive relationship between teaching and research (based on NSS and REF data for law)

Ok, this is not my original idea but inspired by A. Afonso’s calculation for politics departments. Of course, the relationship between teaching and research — and the question of possible synergies or trade-offs — is also a general topic of research in higher education. And, with respect to law, a recent article by Ginsburg and Miles found that under some specifications research and teaching are positively correlated (based on data from the University of Chicago law school).
   My approach was as follows: I took the 66 law units for which data for both research (ie the REF 2014 data) and student satisfaction (ie the NSS 2015) are available. I started with the NSS data on ‘overall satisfaction’ — but the relation between those and the REF data turned out to be flat and insignificant. Thus, the following is based on the NSS teaching scores only (ie disregarding the other categories of the NSS). For the REF I started with the GPA (ie the quality score):

This shows only a slight positive correlation (0.076) which is not statistically significant.
    But there are also a number of other ways of presenting the REF data, eg, considering the number of *s, or just 3 and/or 4*s; and then scaled by the number of staff submitted or the eligible staff, or else just the absolute numbers. 
   The strongest correlation could be identified for the total number of 4*s - ie the 'research power' of law schools based on 4* assessments:

Here the correlation is 0.2534 and significant at the 5 % level. Note that this result, based on a research power indicator, combines two effects as the total number of 4*s is both dependent on the size of the law school and their respective research quality. In the chart it can be seen that the correlation is mainly due to (i) the law schools with the lowest NSS scores also having few 4* assessments and (ii) the law schools with most 4* assessments usually having above average NSS scores.
    Caveat: there are of course good reasons to be sceptical about the REF and the NSS data; but still, as both are based on subjective assessments, there may be some justification in comparing the corresponding data points.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Publications update (on themes of company and comparative law)

Publishers don’t seem to do summer breaks as in the last few weeks a couple of my articles and book chapters have been published ... So here they are:

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Convergence, Legal Origins, and Transplants in Comparative Corporate Law: A Case-Based and Quantitative Analysis (Cabrelli & Siems)

Just published in American Journal of Comparative Law, vol. 63 (2015), pp. 109-153 (SSRN version available here; related to our book on Comparative Company Law). The abstract reads:
In this Article, we intend to fill a gap in the comparative law literature by adopting a case-based approach to comparative corporate law that highlights the important dimension of specific cases in corporate law matters and how identifiable, but limited issues arising from such case disputes are resolved in different jurisdictions. Our study is based on ten cases used in a wider research project and their solutions in ten countries: eight European countries, the United States, and Japan. We assess the solutions to these cases using quantitative methods of network and cluster analysis. We also seek to enquire whether conceptual differences exist between countries in terms of the source, form, style, and substance of the legal rules which comprise their corporate laws.
   The findings of this assessment are used to evaluate arguments developed in the academic comparative company literature which posit that the existence of fundamental differences in the protection of shareholders across countries reduces the scope for convergence in corporate law systems. The case-based evaluation is also applied to make a contribution towards other influential theories in comparative law, particularly the “legal origins” theorem and the “legal transplants” debate. For example, while we find some evidence of legal transplants, we will show that the notion of legal origins has only limited value in today’s corporate law. Furthermore, the research has a public policy dimension since the existence or absence of differences matters for the question of whether formal harmonization of corporate law in the EU, or further afield, is necessary, desirable, or at all possible.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The out-of-office reply in today’s academia

Summer and holiday! But of course we do check our emails every day (hour?; minute?). It would be careless not to do so: what if you are invited to a great conference in a wonderful location or get the proofs of your article with some embarrassing typos, both with short deadlines.
   But, still, out-of-office replies may be useful to tell the world that now we don’t really want to respond to emails, at least not very quickly. But then how should one phrase it? I looked at a couple of examples that I received recently. Analysing them, there is first the question whether to indicate an alternative point of contact – and second how far to say (claim?) that you really won’t respond to emails:

With alternative contact
Without alternative contact

‘no response’
‘slight delay’
I am currently away from the Law School and will have no access to emails until ... If your query is urgent and relates to …, please contact….

Hi folks. I’m away from the office until …; the Law School Reception is probably the best place to direct questions in my absence.

Thank you for your message. I am currently out of office (… to … ) and may not be able to answer emails immediately. If the matter is urgent please contact …

I am away from the University until … without much access to my email. For urgent matters please contact ..

I am out of office until …. During that time, I shall have access to emails, but may take a bit longer than usual to respond. If you have urgent enquiries about … please contact ...
Thank you for your email. I am away until … and I will get back to you as soon as possible thereafter.

During … I am not able to read your email immediately. Your email message will be saved and I will get back to you after my return. In urgent matters please text me at ... 

I am currently out of office and might not be able to respond your emails till …. I will contact you as soon as I can.

Thank you for your email. From .. to .. I will be away from my office with intermittent access to e-mails. I will try to respond to your correspondence as soon as possible.

Thank you for your message. I am currently away on a trip to ... I have less frequent access to email than normal, so there is likely to be a delay in my response to you.

Does this tell us anything interesting? Well, circumstances may be different but also personalities – so do you want to delegate or not? And do you want to create the impression that you’re always ready to work if something urgent comes up, or do you want to tell the world that it should manage for a few weeks without you...?

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Crowdfunding legal scholarship?

ICLA simple google search shows a lively discussion about crowdfunding academic research. Some universities have also developed platforms that aim for crowdfunding research, presumably first Deakin University in Australia and recently SOAS in London.
   Could such crowdfunding also work for legal scholarship? A sceptic may say that crowdfunding is more likely to be relevant for other research: for example, medical breakthroughs, technological interventions and innovative artistic works – all with the potential of attracting funding from the general public.
   But perhaps there can be circumstances where legal scholarship could attract crowdfunding – here some Sunday morning ideas:
  • Donation-based crowdfunding could work for ‘sexy’ legal research, for example, if it can be linked to politically relevant topics (religious extremism, gun control, the EU etc) or if it has a cultural, philosophical or even artistic dimension that make it of interest to the public (eg, crime fiction and law; artworks displaying injustice).
  • Loan-based crowdfunding would need to appeal to investors expecting a return. This could work for legal research where the researcher knows that he/she can expect future income streams but needs resources to conduct this project. For example, someone – a public body, a law firm, a company etc – asks the researcher to produce a report on a particular legal issue but payment will only be with the delivery of the report: so here the crowdfunding would enable the researcher to go on unpaid leave for some time, to appoint assistants etc.
  • Equity-based crowdfunding (and related forms of crowdinvestment) would appeal to investors who aim for a return but are aware of the risks of the investment. This may work for some conventional legal research, for example, the aim to write a popular textbook (where external funding is often not available and universities may be unwilling to grant research leave). So, crowdfunding may again provide the time by way of unpaid leave, buyouts etc to get the book written; then, the funders would participate in the future income streams of the book (while the author should also retain some of the income in order to keep an incentive to produce good work).