Academic Learning in Law

Academic Learning in Law

Theoretical Positions, Teaching Experiments and Learning Experiences

Edited by Bart van Klink and Ubaldus de Vries

This timely book calls for a critical re-evaluation of university legal education, with the particular aim of strengthening its academic nature. It emphasizes lecturers’ responsibility to challenge the assumptions students have about law, and the importance of putting law in a theoretical and social context that allows for critical reflection and sceptical detachment. In addition, the book reports upon teaching experiences and innovations, offering tools for teachers to strengthen the academic nature of legal education.

Chapter 10: For a new and more diverse comparative legal education

Sabrina Germain

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


Comparative law became a part of American law schools and European law faculties’ curriculums shortly after the Second World War. Its expansion and its rise as a standalone course were due in part to the success of the 1937 Round Table of Comparative Law of the Association of American law schools where the province of the subject-matter and the methods of teaching had been abundantly discussed. In the aftermath of the war, many scholars felt compelled to write on the merits of comparative law, its importance as a research topic, and its role in the education of young legal minds and future practitioners. Unfortunately, the usual absence of a defined legal corpus and the reference in a vague sense to ‘any juristic activity which pays attention to one or more law [sic] or system of laws’as comparative law has led American and European law students to perceive courses in comparative law as superfluous rather than indispensable. Indeed, comparative law does not constitute a branch of law in itself. There are no rules of comparative law nor does it constitute a body of law compromising normative prescriptions. This may explain why a variety of courses and programs labeled as ‘comparative law’ in American law schools and European faculties widely differ in their content and delivery. For the purpose of this contribution I chose to focus on comparative law as a topic ‘going beyond mere knowledge of foreign rules, [broadening] the understanding of how legal rules work in context’.

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