Rethinking Law teaching – Carel Stolker

In a recent book, Rethinking the Law School: Education, Research, Outreach and Governance (Cambridge University Press, 2015) Professor Carel Stolker, now Rector Magnificus of Leiden University and a long-time friend of the Europaeum, offers a journey through law schools across a range of countries, comparing and contrasting the many aspects involved in providing law education in leading European universities, exploring education, research, outreach, and governance.

Professor Stolker, who sat on the Europaeum Academic Policy committee, the Council, and Board of Trustees, tries to find the common values, duties and challenges facing law schools around the globe. He finds that while law teaching, by its nature, tends to think locally, in fact, has many global commonalities in terms of values, duties, challenges, ambitions and hopes. Written from the perspective of a former Dean of a leading Law School, and having served as a deputy judge at the Court of Haarlem and deputy justice at the Court of Appeal of s-Hertogenbosch, the book outlines challenges facing legal education and research. “As you might expect, law features prominently in the book, but its scope is much broader than law alone. I have also tried to extend the subject matter beyond the Netherlands and Europe,” he says. (see here for a full bio of Professor Stolker).

The initial chapters give an overview of law schools worldwide (chapter 1), and an analysis of the ‘essence’ of the law faculty (chapter 3) – with a focus on Leiden’s values. Chapter 2 was added looking at key questions facing universities throughout the world today when he found himself elected Rector. The book though is mostly about education and law covering didactics (chapter 4); so-called final law qualifications Law or What makes a good lawyer? (chapter 5); the nature, method and assessment of legal research (chapter 6), and publication practices of legal experts (chapter 7). Next, outreach (or valorisation) is addressed at length with sections on international legal collaboration and the importance of a legal faculty for the city (chapter 8); questions of how creativity can be nurtured in an academic group (chapter 9); and some philosophical question about responsibility and accountability issues relating to staff, students, alumni or, maybe, nobody? (chapter 10). Finally, administration and management of academic faculty and staff (chapter 11). For more about the book, see here.