The Mind and Method of the Legal Academic

The Mind and Method of the Legal Academic

Jan M. Smits

Jan Smits assesses the recent turn away from doctrinal research towards a more empirical and theoretical way of legal investigation and offers a fresh perspective on what it is that legal academics should deal with and how they should do it. The book also considers the consequences which follow for the organization of the legal discipline by universities and uses this context to discuss the key questions of the internationalization of law schools, quality assessments, legal education and the research culture.

Preface

Jan M. Smits

Subjects: law - academic, comparative law, legal philosophy, legal theory, research methods in law

Extract

This book deals with the aims, methods and organization of legal scholarship. This theme has received a lot of attention in the last few years but the primary goal of this work is not to offer an elaborate overview of these recent discussions, which have taken place in various countries. Instead, the following pages offer a – sometimes personally inspired – essay on the diverse aspects of doing academic work in the field of law. The core of the argument is that legal science should primarily deal with the ‘ought’ question: ‘What is it that people and organizations are legally obliged to do?’ This question cannot be answered by mere reference to national legislation or case law, but should always be based on arguments derived from other sources. This makes the legal discipline a highly international one: it does not deal with the positive law of one or more jurisdictions, but with what is law in general. The many conclusions that follow from this abstract summary will be discussed in much detail in this book. It deals with questions such as, ‘What is the core of the legal approach?’ and, ‘To what extent does the law meet the requirements of an academic discipline?’ and addresses the organization and assessment of legal research and the importance of debate. It was a pleasure to write this book. Having worked in various law schools in the past twenty years, I felt the need to proffer my own views of legal scholarship. This...