Events

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Joint Utrecht/MMG-MPG Workshop on Methods and Research Design in Comparative Constitutional Studies for PhD candidates and post-docs

Utrecht University, School of Law – 15 March 2018

Prof. Ran Hirschl (Toronto/Göttingen/Max Planck Society)
Prof. Elaine Mak (Utrecht)

On Thursday 15 March, the Montaigne Centre at Utrecht University will host a workshop on comparative methods and research design in the field of comparative constitutional law. The key note speaker and main discussant will be Prof. Ran Hirschl, one of the main voices in current academic scholarship in law and political science and the author of inter alia Towards Juristocracy (Harvard University Press, 2004) and Comparative Matters (OUP, 2014).

Selected PhD candidates and post-docs from the UU and from Prof. Hirschl’s group will present their research and receive comments from Prof. Hirschl and from the other participants. Two slots are available for external speakers (see below, call for abstracts).

Confirmed speakers and topics are:

Leonie Huijbers (UU): Process-based fundamental rights review
Erin Jackson (UU): Trust-building between judges in Europe
dr. Erie Tanja (UU): Responsive forms of governance and the effects on the rule of law
Evan Rosevear (Toronto): Comparative social and economic rights jurisprudence
dr. Eugénie Mérieau (Göttingen): Constitutional law and politics in Southeast Asia (Thailand)
dr. Martijn van den Brink (Göttingen): Constitutional law and citizenship at the pan-European level

We invite junior and senior researchers with an interest in the methodology of comparative constitutional law research to participate in this workshop. If you wish to attend, please register with montaignecentrum@uu.nl by 28 February 2018. As places for this event are limited, registrations will be handled on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.

Date and time: 15 March 2018, 9.30-17.00, followed by drinks
Location: UU Law school building, Newtonlaan 201, room 4A.24-30

Programme (further details coming soon):

9.30-10.00 Welcome with coffee and tea
10.00-10.05 Opening by Prof. Elaine Mak
10.05-10.45 Introduction by Prof. Ran Hirschl and Q&A with the audience
10.45-11.45 Two PhD/post-doc presentations and discussion
11.45-12.00 Coffee and tea break
12.00-13.00 Two PhD/post-doc presentations and discussion
13.00-14.00 Lunch
14.00-15.00 Two PhD/post-doc presentations and discussion
15.00-16.00 Two PhD/post-doc presentations and discussion
16.00-16.15 Coffee and tea break
16.15-17.00 Final discussion and conclusions
17.00-18.00 Drinks

More information on Ran Hirschl is available here: http://www.law.utoronto.ca/faculty/hirschl

Call for abstracts for the two final slots in the workshop

Two slots in the workshop have been reserved for PhD candidates or post-docs from outside the Montaigne Centre and Prof. Hirschl’s group. Should you be interested in presenting your research in one of these slots, please contact Prof. Elaine Mak (e.mak@uu.nl) by 23 February 2018. In your e-mail, please include a short abstract of the research project which you’d like to present and indicate the methodological approach for this research (e.g. legal doctrinal analysis, use of methods from the social sciences, etc.). After the closing date, Prof. Hirschl and Prof. Mak will select two abstracts for the presentations.

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Law and Method: Vaardighedenonderwijs en de T-shaped lawyer

Symposium van het tijdschrift Law and Method in samenwerking met Erasmus School of Law

Datum: vrijdag 13 april 2018 van 13.30-17.00 uur
Locatie: Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam (Woudestein campus), Mandeville T3-39

Een goede jurist heeft niet alleen kennis van het recht nodig, maar dient ook te beschikken over de vaardigheden om die kennis in de praktijk te brengen. Over dit uitgangspunt zijn rechtsgeleerden het eens, maar over de invulling en uitwerking in het onderwijs veel minder: wat is de beste manier om juristen vaardigheden bij te brengen? En welke vaardigheden dienen daarbij de nadruk te krijgen? Volgens sommigen wordt van de jurist van de 21e eeuw iets heel anders gevraagd dan vroeger, waardoor hij naast diepgaande kennis van het recht ook een brede interdisciplinaire kennis nodig heeft: de T-shaped lawyer. Anderen betwijfelen of dit werkelijk iets nieuws brengt, en ook of hiermee de rechtenstudent niet overvraagd wordt: is dat allemaal mogelijk in een opleiding van vier jaar?

In deze bijeenkomst betrekken we deze discussie op vaardighedenonderwijs: welke vaardigheden heeft een jurist nodig en hoe kunnen rechtenstudenten die het beste leren?

Het eerste thema van de bijeenkomst betreft de inhoud en plaats van vaardighedenonderwijs. Moet de nadruk liggen op juridische vaardigheden of academische vaardigheden, of dienen beide tegelijkertijd te worden onderwezen? Welke juridische vaardigheden zijn in de huidige tijd vooral van belang en zijn daar nieuwe vaardigheden bijgekomen? Wat is daarin de plaats van interdisciplinariteit? Is het beter om deze vaardigheden aan te bieden binnen de kennisgerichte vakken, of is een apart vaardighedentraject effectiever?

Het tweede thema is de didactiek van het vaardighedenonderwijs: wat zijn goede manieren om studenten te leren analyseren, kritisch oordelen, schrijven of onderzoeken? Wat kunnen online middelen bijdragen aan goed vaardighedenonderwijs?

Wij nodigen u uit om hierover ervaringen en meningen te komen delen. Er is ruimte voor korte presentaties (10 minuten) van best practices en plannen en voor innovatieve en conservatieve ideeën over goed vaardighedenonderwijs. Wilt u aan ons aangeven of u over het eerste thema of het tweede thema wilt spreken?

Deelname met of zonder presentatie is mogelijk. Graag aanmelden bij het secretariaat Publiekrecht en STeM (Wies Dam en Yvette van Naarden) op pubstem@law.eur.nl, voor 30 maart 2018. Neem voor inhoudelijke vragen contact op met Sanne Taekema (taekema@law.eur.nl).

Overview

Overview Legal Methods Courses Canada

Alberta

University of Alberta, Edmonton
Jurisprudence: Advanced Legal Methods

University of Calgary, Calgary
Advanced Legal Research
Graduate Seminar in Legal Research and Methodology (see previous link)

British Columbia

Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops
Fundamental Legal Skills
Advanced Legal Research (see previous link)

University of British Columbia, Vancouver
Methodologies in Law and Policy

University of Victoria, Victoria
Graduate Seminar in Applied Legal Methodology

Manitoba

University of Manitoba, Winnipeg
Legal Methods
Graduate Legal Research and Theory

Ontario

University of Toronto, Toronto
Advanced Legal Research, Analysis and Writing

Saskatchewan

University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon
Legal Research and Writing

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Overview Legal Methods Courses United Kingdom

University of Aberdeen
Legal Method
Introduction to Legal Theory

University of Birmingham
LLB Legal Skills and Methods

University of Cambridge
Legal Skills and Methodology

University of East Anglia – Norwich
Legal Method, Skills and Reasoning (1st year)
Voor elke LLM: Legal Skills and Reasoning (see example)

Edg Hill University – Ormskirk
Year One: Legal Methods and Systems
Year Three: Optional Course – Jurisprudence (see previous link)

University of Edinburgh
Legal Theory Research Group (for instance, a workshop The Methodology of Legal Philosophy was held by this group in 2015)
Undergraduate Course: Critical Legal Thinking (obligatory first year course)
Advanced Legal Methods (obligatory for the Honours programme)

University of Glasgow
Advanced Legal Methods 1A

University of Huddersfield
Professional Skills and Legal Method

University of Leeds
Year 2: Researching Law

Leeds Metropolitan University
English Legal System, method and Skills

University of Liverpool
English Legal System and Legal Skills

University of Londen
Legal System and method (in de link p. 17)

University of Manchester
Jurisprudence

University of Middlesex – Londen
Year 1: Legal Method

University of Newcastle
Legal Institutions and Method

University of Nottingham
Year One: Understandig Law

University of Oxford
Theory & Methods Course

Queen’s University Belfast
Juris Doctor Programma – Year 1: Legal Methods and Skills, Year 2: Research Methodologies
LLB Programma – Year 1: Legal Methods and Skills

University of Salford
Year 1: English Legal Process & Research Skills

University of Stirling
The Centre for Transnational Legal Methods
Legal Research Methods

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Overview Legal Methods Courses United States of America

 Alabama

University of Alabama
Legal Research/Writing I
Legal Research Advanced

Alaska

University of Alaska Anchorage – Anchorage
Legal Research, Analysis, and Writing

Arizona

Arizona State University (Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law)
Legal Method & Writing

Californië

Pepperdine University – Malibu
Legal Research and Writing

Santa Clara University – Santa Clara
Advanced Legal Research

University of Southern California – Los Angeles
Legal research

Colorado

University of Colorado
Foundations of Legal Research
Advanced Legal Research

Connecticut

Yale – New Haven
Advanced Legal Research: Methods and Sources
Research Methods in American Legal History (see previous link)

Florida

University of Miami – Coral Gables
Legal Research Techniques

Georgia

Emory University – Atlanta
Advanced Legal Research

Georgia State University – Atlanta
Research Methods in Law

Illinois

Nothern Illinois University – DeKalb
Legal Methods

University of Chicago
Legal Research

Indiana

University of Notre Dame – South Bend
Legal Research
LL.M. Legal Research, Writing & Analysis (see previous link)

Valparaiso University – Valparaiso
Legal Methods

Kansas

University of Kansas – Lawrence
Lawyering Skills I
Topics in Advanced Legal Research (see previous link)
Legal Research (see previous link)

Kentucky

University of Louisville (Louis D. Brandeis School of Law)
Advanced Legal Research

New York

Columbia University
Legal Methods

Ohio

Ohio Northern University
Legal Research and Writing I

University of Cincinnati College of Law
Advanced Legal Research: Methods & Applications

Oklahoma

Oklahomoa City University School of Law
Legal Method: An Introduction to the Anglo-American Legal System and Reading for the Legal Profession

Pennsylvania

Drexel University College of Law
Legal Methods I & II

Texas

Texas A&M University School of Law
Legal Analysis, Research & Writing I & II

Washington DC
The George Washington University
Advanced Legal Research

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Overview Legal Methods Courses the Netherlands

Universiteit Leiden
BA1: Methoden & Technieken van de Rechtswetenschap
Master Encyclopedie & Filosofie van het Recht: Privatissimum Rechtsmethodologie

Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA)
BA1: Theorie en praktijk onderzoeksmethoden

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)
BA1: Juridische Vaardigheden
Master Philosophy of Law and Government: Methoden van de Rechtswetenschap

Universiteit Utrecht
Geen vakken, wel een medewerker gespecialiseerd in rechtsfilosofie en rechtsmethodologie (prof. dr. Van Bockel)

Universiteit Tilburg
Research Master: Methods of Legal Research

Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
BA1: Juridische Onderzoeksvaardigheden 1
BA2: Juridische Onderzoeksvaardigheden 2
Master Rechtswetenschappelijk Onderzoek: Wetenschapsleer

Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
BA1 Academische Vaardigheden
Onderzoeksmaster Onderneming & Recht: Rechtsmethodologie
Onderzoeksmaster Publiekrecht: Rechtsmethodologie

Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam
Researchmaster: Wetenschapsleer
Vak bij diverse masters: Legal Theory and Methods

Maastricht University
BA2: Onderzoeksmethoden

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Climbing Bloom’s Stairway: The Case of Kevin Brooks

Arie-jan Kwak

We need to talk about Kevin. I am not referring to the 2011 movie by Lynne Ramsay but to Kevin Brooks, one of the main figures in The Paper Chase. This successful film by James Bridges, followed by an even more successful television series, was based on a novel by Jay Osborn jr., a novel he wrote when he was a student at Harvard Law school. Especially Professor Kingsfield, a Oscar-winning role by John Houseman, makes a lasting impression. As he explains in the first class of the year Kingsfield teaches contract law using the ‘Socratic method’, and the class-room interrogations by Kingsfield are among the most powerful scenes in this classic movie. Kevin Brooks is one of the first year law students in Kingsfield’s class, his story is a particularly tragic one.

Soon after school starts Kevin Brooks joins a study group. The participators divide the subjects among each other to make summaries, and they discuss the various topics, all to prepare for the exams at the end of the academic year. Although he works very hard, things are not going well for Kevin, and during the year he gets more and more nervous. Kevin is under is under a lot of pressure: his wife is expecting a baby, and his wealthy father in law pays for his education, so failure is no option. However, he flunks all the practice exams. Furthermore, Kevin also fails to finish and share the outlines assigned to him, repeatedly claiming that they are almost ready. Just before the final exams Kevin collapses and does an attempt at suicide. The attempt is unsuccessful but it does spell the end of his time at Harvard. When he is gone, his fellow-students discover that the promised outlines are non-existent.

We are given hints at what is wrong with Kevin, at why he fails in law school. In an especially engaging class-room scene Kevin is interrogated by Kingsfield and, in an effort to divert the attention from the fact that he does not know the answer to Kingfield’s questions, Kevin tells the professor that he has a photographic memory. Kevin seems to be rather proud of this ability, but Kingsfield is not impressed: “A photographic memory is of absolutely no use to you Mr. Brooks without the ability to analyze that vast mass of facts between your ears.” Kingsfield’s remark is spot on, the ability to analyze seems to be exactly what Kevin lacks. Indeed, he may able to produce the right ‘photo’ at the right moment and, so to speak, read it aloud, but he is unable to truly understand, let alone analyze, this picture before his mind’s eye. His knowledge is therefore very literal and (therefore) highly superficial.

One is reminded of a scene in another movie. In Rain Main (1988) Dustin Hoffman plays what is sometimes called an idiot-savant: a severely autistic man who is at the same time incredibly knowledgeable on a certain subjects. His younger brother Charlie (Tom Cruise) takes Raymond on a tour but Charlie loses sight of Raymond in the middle of a town somewhere. Raymond walks around alone and decides to cross the street at a pedestrian crossing. When he is halfway the light changes from ‘walk’ to ‘don’t walk’. Raymond may be autistic but he knows how to read and therefore stops walking in the middle of the street. When the light turns green for the cars that are waiting for the crossing, the drivers are confronted with a man standing in front of the row of cars staring at a traffic light. Before things really get out of hand, Charlie finds his brother and pushes him of the crossing on to the pavement. It said don’t walk, Raymond says, it said don’t walk.

Kevin and Raymond can read, but they don’t seem to truly understand. You do not get into Harvard law school when you are severely autistic of course, but on a different level the problem seems very similar: they both remain stuck at the first step of Bloom’s famous pyramid. They are able to reproduce the literal phrases they see or hear – indeed Raymond’s knowledge on certain subjects is mind blowing – and they understand its literal meaning, but they are both somehow unable to read between the lines.

We all know that when you are in the middle of the crossing ‘don’t walk’ means ‘run’! Everybody who sees the bigger picture here, and everybody who knows the purpose these traffic lights serve in the larger context of traffic regulation and policies, understands this. This is the second step on Bloom’s pyramidal ‘stairway’: understanding. Both Kevin and Raymond fail to truly understand what they are dealing with; and that is also exactly why Kevin is unable to produce the outlines he promised. Kevin is unable to relate the bits and pieces of information in his head to a bigger picture; a bigger picture which includes the general purposes, values and policies that are served by the law. Only such an understanding of such purposes can help to distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant aspects of a case. Poor Kevin. He cannot distinguish the incidental from the essential, every detail seems equally important to him.

The Paper Chase scenes illustrate that understanding requires the ability to locate a particular bit of information in a larger context of general knowledge and experience. And if you do not see the purpose of it all, the use of the information offered, there is not a chance that you are able to apply the knowledge (the third step on Bloom’s pyramidal stairs) or “to analyze that vast mass of facts between your ears”(Bloom’s fourth step) which is, of course, an essential legal skill. Kingsfield prides himself in teaching exactly this. “You come in here with a skull full of mush, and you leave thinking like a lawyer,” he tells his students during their first day at law school. The Socratic method (or ‘case method’) is supposed to help the student climb the stairs from mere learning by rote and reproduction to the analysis of the legal materials. Whether Kingsfield truly succeeds in this is another matter, but his Socratic teaching style makes very good television indeed.

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Engaging Students
Bridging the gap between abstract law and concrete life events

Bald de Vries 

Imagining, hesitating, memorising through metaphors 

One thing that strikes me as a lecturer in law, is the distance between the abstract law and real-life events. Usually we present students with a set of facts, from which they have to distill the legal issue, translated into a question which they seek to answer based upon the law they study in the given course, be it contract law, administrative law or criminal law.

For students, the case study method, although based on facts, makes the law an abstract entity. There is a distance, indeed, and students merely engage in the legal analysis, not concerned with the correlation of law and life. We do not train students to bridge this gap and create in them a sense of empathy and ethical awareness when they engage in addressing legal questions. I say this, as law and legal problems stem from or based in real life trauma, of all sorts, chilling events.

It is this what struck me at the joined meeting of the Dutch Socio-Legal Studies Association and the Dutch Association for the Philosophy of Law, held on Friday 3 November in Utrecht. The theme of this meeting was in exploring new perspectives on active learning and teaching in legal education, from the perspective of jurisprudence and socio-legal studies.

The background to organising the theme is that the field of legal education is changing. On the one hand we see the development of new ‘supra’ legal programmes, in which law is combined with other disciplines, like economy, politics, philosophy and the like. On the other hand, we see new kinds of courses in existing programmes, such as courses like ‘law, society and justice’, or courses such as ‘perspectives on law’ and ‘ law and human behaviour’.

But what is striking, in my opinion, is that these developments see the study of law as instrumental and outward-looking, geared towards preparing students for practicing the law as an abstract entity. But this is insufficient. There is in inward looking aspect of the study of law. Indeed, these developments pose a variety of questions, pertaining to the status of ‘traditional’ jurisprudence and sociology of law courses. How can we engage students in thinking about the law fundamentally, both philosophically and sociologically? How to bridge the distance between the (perceived) abstract nature our disciplines and the imagination of our students?

Maksymilian del Mar addressed this fundamental question in a fundamental way, in his keynote address, setting the scene for the day. He stressed the importance of using metaphors and artefacts in order to allow the suspension of judgment. It enables, first, to submerge in the facts of a case and, second, to confront one’s prejudices and assumptions. This reflexivity strengthens, in the end, the legal judgment of students, as they realise the impact of law and the facts beneath it. It enables them to live the scenario the parties (real people) actually experienced.

This message translated in a variety of workshops in which lecturers showed how to engage and challenge students in thinking about law. Our Turkish guest lecturer, for example, confronts students with their prejudices about detainees in bringing them into contact with them. She uses the metaphor of the mirror first, challenging them to inspect what they see and don't see in the mirror, before confronting them with prisoners - teaching them both. The task is to explore to see the person and consider whether justice is done, or not. In other words, what Gülriz Uygur points to is the importance of ethical responsibility and the ability to emphatise.

In a way, Uygur’s point relates to the importance of observation and imagination. Law has an impact on social life and social life has an impact on law. Our students should be aware, already in their studies, that they carry responsibility - that they will be engaged in making decisions that impact upon the lives of people. Our type of courses can open up our students and contribute to the inward looking aspect of studying law, call it Bildung

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