The Jurist in a Global Age

Forthcoming in Van Gestel, Micklitz and Rubin(eds) Methodology in the New Legal World (Cambridge)

Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper 2015/13

27 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2015

See all articles by Neil Walker

Neil Walker

University of Edinburgh, School of Law

Date Written: April 13, 2015


The jurist comprehends law as something more than technical expertise. The jurist is concerned not only with serving the needs of her professional clients, whatever these needs may be, but also with the wider purpose of enhancing the well-being of law as a practical idea. What implications does this longstanding if highly open-ended conception of the jurist have for legal research and education today? The paper begins to address this question by exploring some of the general and enduring tensions and divisions within our understanding of law as an academic discipline; between a humanities-based approach and a social scientific approach, and also between service, detached and critical orientations towards the law. It then proceeds to re-examine these divisions in the context of the intense development of transnational and global law in the contemporary age. The paper argues that the challenge to state-centred legal authority accompanying that development has enhanced the role of jurists as co-producers of legal norms and authority frameworks. It has also required jurists to become more invested both in the kind of reflective historical inquiry into and evaluation of our common cultural productions associated with the humanities, and in the analysis of emergent trends associated with certain of the social sciences. And in its focus on the new fluidity of legal authority, the globalisation of law also increasingly questions the force of the opposition between a conservatively-inflected service or detached orientation and a (potentially transformative) critical orientation. The role of the jurist in a global age, in sum, is significantly altered, and requires us to revise some of the distinctions that have traditionally attended our thinking about legal teaching and learning.

Keywords: Global, transnational, jurist, humanities, social sciences, service, critical, methodology, education, authority, unsettlement.

Suggested Citation

Walker, Neil, The Jurist in a Global Age (April 13, 2015). Forthcoming in Van Gestel, Micklitz and Rubin(eds) Methodology in the New Legal World (Cambridge), Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper 2015/13, Available at SSRN:

Neil Walker (Contact Author)

University of Edinburgh, School of Law ( email )

Old College
South Bridge
Edinburgh, EH8 9YL
United Kingdom

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