Saturday, 24 July 2010

A puzzling statement about law professors

I’m just reading David S. Clark, ‘The Organization of Lawyers and Judges’ in the International Encyclopedia of Comparative Law (Vol. 16; Ch 3; 2002). He writes in para 56 that 
“in Common Law countries (...) most full-time professors think of themselves mainly as teachers rather than scholars” (no references provided). 
Well, it’s Saturday afternoon and I’m in the SOAS library in London doing research! Indeed, such a statement may have been valid 50 years ago but today it’s clearly outdated. And comparing the UK and Germany I would say that in the UK there is now a stronger focus on research (being the - positive - result of the frequent research assessment exercises), whereas German law professors have a considerably higher teaching load.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

A nasty quote on law conferences

“Like most international congresses, these are valuable primarily for the opportunities to meet people and see friends. What the organisers call the ‘scientific programme’ is almost always a debacle” (John Merryman as cited in Riles (ed.), Rethinking the Masters of Comparative Law, 2001, p. 120 note 101).
I have been to this kind of conferences but I don’t think that this is an entirely fair statement any more. Actually, it may be a generational question. To explain, in law it used to be common that you just wrote a paper and then immediately submitted it to a journal for publication. That’s different in other social sciences where, before submitting it to journals, you present the paper at various conferences in order to get feedback (see only the first footnotes of journal articles in economics, finance etc). I would say that in the last few decades legal research – in particular when it has an interdisciplinary dimension – is moving into the same direction. So, gradually, academic conferences should become more meaningful ... though sometimes presentations can still be ‘a debacle’.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Jokes about law professors prohibited!

As part of my new project on comparative law I'm reading (or re-reading) a couple of comparative law books. I'm planning to post a few quotes from these books in the following weeks. So here's the first one:

"The main compilation of Justinian was called the Digest or the Pandects (....). When it was finished, it was very finished. Justinian prohibited all further comment on it; (Fn) Justinian also solemnly prohibited making jokes about law professors who would come to teach it, though sanctions were not set out" (Glenn, Legal Traditions of the World, 2nd ed, pp. 130-1 with further references)

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Sharp decline: "English law" in Harvard Law Review

Following the previous post, the same exercise for "English law". As one would have expected, US law is becoming more and more independent of its English origins (PS: the 1890s data may be a bit misleading since the Harvard Law Review had presumably less issues/pages than in the 20th century).

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Up and down: “German law” in Harvard Law Review

Just a simple counting exercise. Does it mean anything? Well, in the first part of the 20th century continental European legal ideas were highly influential in the US, which, interestingly, did not stop in the 1930s. In the 1940s to 60s the numbers remained relatively high, presumably due to the academics who had to leave Germany for the US in the late 1930s. Then, German law became less interesting with only a slight improvement in the noughties.