University of Edinburgh Law School
|Head of School||Professor Richard Sparks|
|Affiliations||Part of the College of Humanities and Social Science|
The University of Edinburgh Law School, founded in 1707, is a school within the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, dedicated to research and teaching in law. Known today as Edinburgh Law School, it is located in the historic Old College, the original site of the University. The School is near George Square and the University's central campus, not far from Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile, and also finds itself at the heart of the Scottish legal system, with Parliament House, home to the High Court of Justiciary, and the Court of Session nearby. Two of the twelve currently sitting Supreme Court of the United Kingdom justices are graduates of Edinburgh. The acceptance rate for the 2012-2013 admissions cycle was 20.9%. Edinburgh Law includes undergraduate LLB and post-graduate LLB programs, along with LLM, MSc and PhD programs.
In 2010, the Guardian University Guide ranked Edinburgh Law School as the fourth best law school in the UK and the best in Scotland. In 2014, the Research Excellence Framework commissioned by the UK government, ranked Edinburgh University 1st in Scotland and 4th in the UK. Also in 2014, the newspaper The Telegraph ranked Edinburgh Law 6th in the United Kingdom.
In 1707, the year of the unification of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England into the Kingdom of Great Britain, Queen Anne established the Chair of Public Law and the Law of Nature and Nations in the University of Edinburgh, to which Charles Erskine (or Areskine) was appointed; this was the formal start of the Faculty of Law. By 1722 the University had four Professors of Law, and classes - in Civil Law, Scots Law and History - were usually given in their respective homes or offices. Numbers grew with the expansion of the legal profession in the 19th century, and by 1830 there were over 200 students attending the Scots Law class alone. Scholarship amongst the academics at Edinburgh continued to grow in reputation, with the work of Muirhead, Lorimer and Rankine achieving international renown.
The Faculty of Law had moved to Old College, built in 1789, and in 1862 the new degree of LL.B. (Bachelor of Laws) was introduced, following the Universities (Scotland) Act 1858. The degree was only open to graduates, usually those who had studied for the M.A.(Arts) at a Scottish University or the B.A. at Oxford or Cambridge. Students of the LL.B. had to attend courses and be examined in Civil Law, Conveyancing, Public law, Constitutional law and History, and Medical Jurisprudence; Edinburgh was the only University to offer this degree for some time. In 1909 the first women were enrolled on the Law course. By 1966, the LL.B. had become a full-time undergraduate course, although many would continue to study for an Arts degree beforehand. In 1981, Edinburgh first offered the Diploma in Legal Practice, for LL.B. students wishing to enter the legal profession.
Today, the School of Law is associated both with traditional Scots law and with innovation across a wide range of subjects. The School retains a reputation for scholarship in topics such as Roman Law but is also known as a centre for research in topics such as European law, criminology, commercial law, intellectual property and information technology law, labour law, European private law, medical law and ethics, international law, comparative law, and human rights law. In 2007 the School celebrated its Tercentenary year, marked by a series of events and of lectures by world-renowned legal experts.
Notable alumni of Edinburgh University's Law School include:
- Henry Brougham, Lord Chancellor of Great Britain, co-founder of the University College London
- Douglas Alexander MP, former Secretary of State for International Development
- Michael Ancram QC, Marquess of Lothian, former MP and Chairman of the Conservative Party
- James Clyde, Baron Clyde, Lord of Appeal in Ordinary
- George Combe, founder of the Edinburgh Phrenological Society
- William Cullen, Baron Cullen of Whitekirk, Lord President of the Court of Session and Lord of Appeal in Ordinary
- Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, Lord Advocate of Scotland, British Home Secretary, first Secretary of State for War and First Lord of the Admiralty
- Robert Dundas of Arniston, the younger, Lord Advocate of Scotland, Lord President of the Court of Session
- Sir David Edward QC, former Judge at the European Court of Justice
- Nicholas Fairbairn, Conservative MP for Perth and Kinross and Solicitor General for Scotland
- Brian Gill, Lord Gill, Lord Justice Clerk (Ph.D)
- Peter Goodrich, Director of Law and Humanities at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law (Ph.D.)
- Arthur Hamilton, Lord Hamilton, Lord President of the Court of Session
- Lord Hope of Craighead, former Lord of Appeal in Ordinary and inaugural and current Deputy President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
- Lord Reed, sitting Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
- Lord Hodge, sitting Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
- Lord Mackay of Clashfern, former Lord Chancellor and Lord Advocate of Scotland
- David McLetchie MSP, former Scottish Conservative leader
- Sir Malcolm Rifkind QC MP, former Foreign Secretary
- Sir Walter Scott, writer and poet, (Sheriff-Deputy of Selkirk)
- Judge Julia Sebutinde, current member of the International Court of Justice and first African women to serve as member of the Court
- Alexander McCall Smith, Emeritus Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh, co-founder of the law school at the University of Botswana, adult mystery author
- David Steel, Baron Steel of Aikwood, former Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament
- Robert Louis Stevenson, writer
- Lord Wallace QC, Advocate General for Scotland and former Deputy First Minister of Scotland
- Judge Park Choon-Ho, former Judge at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
- Simon Taylor, Scottish Rugby Footballer
- Katherine Grainger, 2012 Olympic Gold Medallist
- Eleanor Laing, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons
- Sir Thomas Winsor, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary and former Rail Regulator and International Rail Regulator
- David Mundell, current Conservative MP and Secretary of State for Scotland
- Ian Murray, current Labour MP and Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland
- Joanna Cherry, current Scottish Nationalist Party MP for Edinburgh South-West
- Stuart McDonald, current Scottish Nationalist Party MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East
Throughout its history the School (or Faculty) of Law has accommodated some of the leading legal scholars in Europe. James Muirhead's work on Roman Law garnered international praise, Professor Erskine's Principles (1754) became a standard text in Scots Law, as did those of Professor George Joseph Bell. In the 20th-century, the eminent legal theorist Professor Sir Neil MacCormick wrote his seminal texts on legal philosophy as Regius Professor at Edinburgh.
Current members of Edinburgh Law School include current Regius Professor Neil Walker; Professor of European Union Law Professor Niamh Nic Shuibhne; the academic and novelist Professor Alexander McCall Smith; former Judge at the European Court of First Instance Sir David Edward QC; Scottish Law Commissioner Dr Andrew Steven; former Scottish Law Commissioners Professor Hector MacQueen, Professor George Gretton, Professor Gerry Maher QC and Professor Kenneth Reid; Emeritus Professor Robert Black QC (architect of the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial); Emeritus Professor J. Kenyon Mason; Honorary Fellow and Lord Lyon King of Arms David Sellar; Visiting Professor Alan Watson; and international lawyer Professor Alan Boyle.
Students of the School of Law are represented by the Law Students' Council. The University of Edinburgh Law Society, known as LawSoc, provides a programme of social events. In addition, there is a Postgraduate Students' Research Committee for doctoral level students, as well as a Mature Law Students' Society. The University Mooting Society is active, with two internal competitions and several external competitions running during each academic session, giving students the opportunity to develop the skills of oral legal argument. For graduate-level students there are a number of subject-specific discussion groups which meet on a regular basis.
- The Centre for Law and Society
- The Centre for Legal History
- "SCRIPT" (The AHRC Centre for Studies in Intellectual Property and Technology Law)
- The Europa Institute
- The Scottish Centre for International Law
- The Joseph Bell Centre for Forensic Statistics and Legal Reasoning, joint research collaboration with Glasgow Caledonian University
- The Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime
- The Centre for Commercial Law, Chaired by The Rt Hon. Lord Reed
- "Professor Richard Sparks". University of Edinburgh.
- "Academic Staff". University of Edinburgh.
- "University guide 2010: Law". The Guardian (London). 2009-05-12. Retrieved 2010-05-27.
- "REF 2014 confirms Edinburgh Law School’s excellence in research". Edinburgh Law School. University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
- Edinburgh Law School Official Site