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The Mind and Method of the Legal Academic

Jan M. Smits, Professor of European Private Law, Faculty of Law, Maastricht University, Netherlands
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.
Extent: 192 pp
Hardback Price: $112.00 Web: $100.80
Publication Date: 2012
ISBN: 978 0 85793 654 7
Availability: In Stock
Paperback Price: $35.00 Web: $28.00
Publication Date: 2013
ISBN: 978 1 78254 038 0
Availability: In Stock
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  • Law - Academic
  • Comparative Law
  • Legal Philosophy
  • Legal Theory
  • Research Methods in Law
In a context of changing times and current debate, this highly topical book discusses the aims, methods and organization of legal scholarship.

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.

Being the first book to address the aim and goals of legal scholarship in an international context, this insightful study will appeal to academics, graduate students, researchers and policymakers in higher education.
‘Jan Smits has long been one of the most interesting and original authors on European private law theory. Now he offers his views on legal scholarship, and they are as original as they are thought-provoking. His plea for a legal scholarship that maintains its identity vis-à-vis neighboring disciplines without collapsing into doctrinairism is bound to yield lively discussions – and hopefully will help re-establish a proper place for legal scholarship, in Europe and beyond.’
– Ralf Michaels, Duke University, US

‘The Mind and Method of the Legal Academic is a valuable contribution to the discussion on legal methodology and legal theory, which offers an acute insight in contemporary academic discussions. Smits provides us with fresh ideas as to the (non)importance of social sciences for law, comparative law and what makes an academic discipline. He does so in a clear style and barely hundred pages text. It therefore can be highly recommended to all students of jurisprudence.’
– Ewoud Hondius, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands

‘A wonderful little book which explains to newcomers and old hands alike what legal academics are doing, how they are doing it, how they ought to be doing it, what kind of research environment they would need, and how all this should affect their teaching. Smits brings comparative and interdisciplinary approaches home to the core of scholarly legal work.’
– Gerhard Dannemann, Centre for British Studies, Berlin, Germany

‘This book is a wide-ranging and bold exploration of the nature of legal scholarship. Lucid and learned, Smits draws upon a variety of sources to recommend a multi-faceted approach to the normative dimension of law. As such, it provides a theoretical base for comparative law but also for any inquiry into what law or legal principle is appropriate for a given problem or situation. All those engaged in critically examining the law will benefit from its insights.’
– Anthony Ogus, Professor Emeritus, University of Manchester, UK and Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands

‘Academic debate over law and legal scholarship has placed legal research and legal education under pressure. Jan Smits’ book is intellectual self-defence of legal scholarship tailored for the needs of tomorrow. The Mind and Method of the Legal Academic is fluid, creative and original. Makes wonderful reading for those who are concerned about the future of legal research and legal education in a globalized world.’
– Jaakko Husa, University of Lapland, Finland
Contents: Preface Introduction: A Discipline in Crisis? 1. Legal Science: A Typology 2. The Homo Juridicus: Towards a Redefinition of Normative Legal Science 3. Methodology of Normative Legal Science 4. Organization of the Legal-academic Discourse Synopsis References Index