Jurisprudence - NYU or Oxford?


paedrarmy
Hi all,

I'm looking for a bit of advice.

I've been accepted to a few LLM programs - Harvard, NYU, Oxford, Columbia, etc. I'm sure every school is the best at something. I'm most interested in jurisprudence though, and from what I've heard from professors and the like, NYU is tops in the US for jurisprudence and Oxford is the best in the UK for the same. I've received scholarships to cover the costs, so purely in terms of academics, which school is better?

A bit of background: I graduated from a top level Canadian law school, I'm currently clerking at an appellate court in Canada, and my long term goal is to become a law prof. I have no formal education in philosophy.

Any advice or suggestions are welcome, particularly from those who have some interest or experience in this area.

Thanks.
Hi all,

I'm looking for a bit of advice.

I've been accepted to a few LLM programs - Harvard, NYU, Oxford, Columbia, etc. I'm sure every school is the best at something. I'm most interested in jurisprudence though, and from what I've heard from professors and the like, NYU is tops in the US for jurisprudence and Oxford is the best in the UK for the same. I've received scholarships to cover the costs, so purely in terms of academics, which school is better?

A bit of background: I graduated from a top level Canadian law school, I'm currently clerking at an appellate court in Canada, and my long term goal is to become a law prof. I have no formal education in philosophy.

Any advice or suggestions are welcome, particularly from those who have some interest or experience in this area.

Thanks.
quote
morpheus
Go for BCL/MJur. Oxford is the best place to study jurisprudence. Just visit the webpage and check the names of professors. Then ask for reading lists. That will make you convinced and your choice will be informed.

Apart from that.. life in Ox is just a fairy tale :)
Go for BCL/MJur. Oxford is the best place to study jurisprudence. Just visit the webpage and check the names of professors. Then ask for reading lists. That will make you convinced and your choice will be informed.

Apart from that.. life in Ox is just a fairy tale :)
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gar33
Top choice for you should be Oxford. Also consider Yale, Harvard and NYU.

Regards.
Top choice for you should be Oxford. Also consider Yale, Harvard and NYU.

Regards.
quote
tmalmine
I agree with other commentators. In jurisprudence Oxford has been the world leader since the days of Herbert Hart. NYU might well be the best place to study jurisprudence in the US, but in this field England fares better that the US. You can verify this information by looking at Brian Leiter's Philosophical Gourmet Report in which philosophy of law is included. If you choose to attend Oxford, let me suggest you a "good read". Nicola Lacey published in 2004 a biography of H.L.A. Hart: A Life of H.L.A. Hart: The Nightmare and the Noble Dream. It's not only a biography, but a study of Oxford legal philosophy more generally. Highly recommended.
I agree with other commentators. In jurisprudence Oxford has been the world leader since the days of Herbert Hart. NYU might well be the best place to study jurisprudence in the US, but in this field England fares better that the US. You can verify this information by looking at Brian Leiter's Philosophical Gourmet Report in which philosophy of law is included. If you choose to attend Oxford, let me suggest you a "good read". Nicola Lacey published in 2004 a biography of H.L.A. Hart: A Life of H.L.A. Hart: The Nightmare and the Noble Dream. It's not only a biography, but a study of Oxford legal philosophy more generally. Highly recommended.
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gar33
That is indeed a fine book. And H.L.A. Hart was a great scholar. Certainly one of the best (if not the best) the profession has seen in the past 100 years!
That is indeed a fine book. And H.L.A. Hart was a great scholar. Certainly one of the best (if not the best) the profession has seen in the past 100 years!
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morpheus
Tmalmine is so very much right. With one addition - read the book before, not after deciding. :) It gives some nice account of the Oxford atmosphere and tradition in this field. I should also perhaps say that while the presence of H.L.A. Hart is almost to be felt at Oxford, you still have a chance to attend excellent seminars in Jurisprudence led, inter alia, by Tony Honore and John Gardner (the current Chair of Jurisprudence at Ox). The seminar is just amazing, and you have a chance to participate in discussions with great scholars. And, if you are lucky, it may be organised in the remarkable setting of All Souls - then the Ox tradition in this field delights many senses. Apart from that, many American scholars frequently come to Ox with lectures.
Tmalmine is so very much right. With one addition - read the book before, not after deciding. :) It gives some nice account of the Oxford atmosphere and tradition in this field. I should also perhaps say that while the presence of H.L.A. Hart is almost to be felt at Oxford, you still have a chance to attend excellent seminars in Jurisprudence led, inter alia, by Tony Honore and John Gardner (the current Chair of Jurisprudence at Ox). The seminar is just amazing, and you have a chance to participate in discussions with great scholars. And, if you are lucky, it may be organised in the remarkable setting of All Souls - then the Ox tradition in this field delights many senses. Apart from that, many American scholars frequently come to Ox with lectures.
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schnauzer
Well...It depends largely on your jurisprudential views.

If one is interested in Hart's theory and defending his soft positivism then perhaps Yale would be the best place, you could study under Jule Coleman who also defends this view.

If one is a hard positivist in the tradition of Joseph Raz, then Oxford would be the place for you (he is the chair).

On the other hand, if one is a natural (or moral) law theorist then I would suggest NYU and Ronald Dworkin.

Who do you think is right and which view would you be most interested in learning more about?

Cheers!
Well...It depends largely on your jurisprudential views.

If one is interested in Hart's theory and defending his soft positivism then perhaps Yale would be the best place, you could study under Jule Coleman who also defends this view.

If one is a hard positivist in the tradition of Joseph Raz, then Oxford would be the place for you (he is the chair).

On the other hand, if one is a natural (or moral) law theorist then I would suggest NYU and Ronald Dworkin.

Who do you think is right and which view would you be most interested in learning more about?

Cheers!
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tmalmine
My impression is that Oxford jurisprudence community is rather large and many schools are represented. Isn't John Finnis still at Oxford (some kind of a joint-appointment with Notre Dame)? Of course his conception of natural law is quite different from Dworkin's. I've also heard that Nicos Stavropoulos at Oxford is one of jurisprudes who defends Dworkin's jurisprudential ideas. It seems to me that Oxford is the best place to study jurisprudence, because of the breadth and depth of its' faculty.
My impression is that Oxford jurisprudence community is rather large and many schools are represented. Isn't John Finnis still at Oxford (some kind of a joint-appointment with Notre Dame)? Of course his conception of natural law is quite different from Dworkin's. I've also heard that Nicos Stavropoulos at Oxford is one of jurisprudes who defends Dworkin's jurisprudential ideas. It seems to me that Oxford is the best place to study jurisprudence, because of the breadth and depth of its' faculty.
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gar33
Yes tmalmine: John Finnis is still at Oxford.
Yes tmalmine: John Finnis is still at Oxford.
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schnauzer
Oxford probably is the best. A few other notes, however:

NYU has Lewis Kornhauser. And Columbia has Jeremy Waldron (last I heard). Both well respected in the field.

UCL also has a strong offering. See:
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/laws/jurisprudence/llm-01/index.shtml
Harrison, Guest, et al.
Oxford probably is the best. A few other notes, however:

NYU has Lewis Kornhauser. And Columbia has Jeremy Waldron (last I heard). Both well respected in the field.

UCL also has a strong offering. See:
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/laws/jurisprudence/llm-01/index.shtml
Harrison, Guest, et al.
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schnauzer
errrrr...at

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/laws/jurisprudence/llm-01/index.shtml?teachers
errrrr...at

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/laws/jurisprudence/llm-01/index.shtml?teachers
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paedrarmy
Thanks to everyone for their comments.

I agree that Oxford historically had the best reputation in jurisprudence. My concern was that it had slipped recently. Dworkin left. Raz is half time. Lots of the leading legal philosophers (Waldron, Coleman, Perry, etc.) have chosen to teach elsewhere. I'm sure Oxford is still very good, but is it at the leading edge? How much of its reputation in jurisprudence is based on past glory?
Thanks to everyone for their comments.

I agree that Oxford historically had the best reputation in jurisprudence. My concern was that it had slipped recently. Dworkin left. Raz is half time. Lots of the leading legal philosophers (Waldron, Coleman, Perry, etc.) have chosen to teach elsewhere. I'm sure Oxford is still very good, but is it at the leading edge? How much of its reputation in jurisprudence is based on past glory?


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jw
Endicott, Raz, Finnis, and others... how can you argue with that lineup? Sure Dworkin is at NYU/UCL, and Waldron wherever he decides to teach... but everyone thinks Oxford when jurisprudence is mentioned.

Endicott, Raz, Finnis, and others... how can you argue with that lineup? Sure Dworkin is at NYU/UCL, and Waldron wherever he decides to teach... but everyone thinks Oxford when jurisprudence is mentioned.
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tmalmine
By the way, Jeremy Waldron is moving from Columbia to NYU and has a senior offer from Harvard. Those who would like to study with him, keep your eyes open. Of course, there are many law schools in the world with famous legal theorists, but I still insist that Oxford has the largest and most qualified body of jurisprudes. Firstly, it's quite common for great scholars to teach in several universities and therefore Raz's appointment in NYU should not be seen as a sign that Oxford jurisprudence is fading into past glory. No university in the world can keep all the best scholars in the world in its faculty; there would be too much rivalry over such things as who is the "leading" scholar, who gets to supervise dissertations, and so forth. It's quite natural that Coleman, Perry, or Waldron have moved on (salary is also a factor as U.S. law schools pay more, that explains some of the "brain drain"). I also feel that jurisprudential landscape is more fragmented than, perhaps, ever. Natural law theory, legal realism, analytical jurisprudence in its various forms, continental legal philosophy, and naturalized jurisprudence, all are alive and thriving well, and consequently it's much harder to say which university is the best in legal theory. With those reservations, I would still vote Oxford.
By the way, Jeremy Waldron is moving from Columbia to NYU and has a senior offer from Harvard. Those who would like to study with him, keep your eyes open. Of course, there are many law schools in the world with famous legal theorists, but I still insist that Oxford has the largest and most qualified body of jurisprudes. Firstly, it's quite common for great scholars to teach in several universities and therefore Raz's appointment in NYU should not be seen as a sign that Oxford jurisprudence is fading into past glory. No university in the world can keep all the best scholars in the world in its faculty; there would be too much rivalry over such things as who is the "leading" scholar, who gets to supervise dissertations, and so forth. It's quite natural that Coleman, Perry, or Waldron have moved on (salary is also a factor as U.S. law schools pay more, that explains some of the "brain drain"). I also feel that jurisprudential landscape is more fragmented than, perhaps, ever. Natural law theory, legal realism, analytical jurisprudence in its various forms, continental legal philosophy, and naturalized jurisprudence, all are alive and thriving well, and consequently it's much harder to say which university is the best in legal theory. With those reservations, I would still vote Oxford.
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morpheus
droit.est.philosophie - it is just a minor formal issue, but I need to repeat what I wrote - Professor Gardner is the chair of jurisprudence (since 2000), and Professor Raz holds a special chair.

cheers,
M.
droit.est.philosophie - it is just a minor formal issue, but I need to repeat what I wrote - Professor Gardner is the chair of jurisprudence (since 2000), and Professor Raz holds a special chair.

cheers,
M.
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schnauzer
So many chairs...lol....err and those links, you have to manually type them in your browser window. Cut and paste doesn't work...
So many chairs...lol....err and those links, you have to manually type them in your browser window. Cut and paste doesn't work...
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Am sure this is a silly question but why would anyone spend a whole academic year studying Jurisdprudence! Isnt that stuff pretty boring???
Am sure this is a silly question but why would anyone spend a whole academic year studying Jurisdprudence! Isnt that stuff pretty boring???
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tmalmine
That's a good question, James. I think one could pose a similar question vis-a-vis tax law or corporate governance. People just find different things to be interesting/uninteresting. I think it's great that visitors to this board have such broad and varied interests. In Finland most lawyers hate or at least dislike legal history, comparative law, jurisprudence and ConLaw - and by contrast find all "commercial" subjects interesting. Sometimes I feel, though, that what they really are interested in, are the potential earnings to be made in corporate law. It's quite understandable (money doesn't stink!), but somewhat shallow.
That's a good question, James. I think one could pose a similar question vis-a-vis tax law or corporate governance. People just find different things to be interesting/uninteresting. I think it's great that visitors to this board have such broad and varied interests. In Finland most lawyers hate or at least dislike legal history, comparative law, jurisprudence and ConLaw - and by contrast find all "commercial" subjects interesting. Sometimes I feel, though, that what they really are interested in, are the potential earnings to be made in corporate law. It's quite understandable (money doesn't stink!), but somewhat shallow.
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gar33
Am sure this is a silly question but why would anyone spend a whole academic year studying Jurisdprudence! Isnt that stuff pretty boring???


Well James... I'm not interested in studying Jurisprudence alone, so I understand your point. However, what strikes me as really amazing is that some people are willing to spend not only one, but several years, studying tax law or commercial arbitration... But if they like to do so, I can't see any problem!
It is my contention that jurisprudence is one of the most fascinating areas of legal studies.

You know, one year is nothing. Some people study one subject for the rest of their lives... or even one problem!
<blockquote>Am sure this is a silly question but why would anyone spend a whole academic year studying Jurisdprudence! Isnt that stuff pretty boring???</blockquote>

Well James... I'm not interested in studying Jurisprudence alone, so I understand your point. However, what strikes me as really amazing is that some people are willing to spend not only one, but several years, studying tax law or commercial arbitration... But if they like to do so, I can't see any problem!
It is my contention that jurisprudence is one of the most fascinating areas of legal studies.

You know, one year is nothing. Some people study one subject for the rest of their lives... or even one problem!
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morpheus
I think there is more to the choice of a legal discipline than meets the eye. Any general conclusions as to the intensity of attractiveness factor among disciplines are simply too general to be correct. I believe that each and every area of law may be subject to extraordinarily interesting analysis or may be practiced at the highest level of excellence, be it environmental law, legal history or corporate law. What seems to matter mostly, is conceptual sophistication and the ability to use cutting edge tools. That makes, in my view, an interesting academic or practitioners activity. Naturally, jurisprudence is just the most universal area where to employ ones brain (unless, again, you start to specialize).

On a humorous, but somewhat related note Herbert Hart practiced tax law for years and was widely regarded as one of the leading London barristers in this field at that time. Similarly, Dworkin spent three years (if I remember correctly) practicing corporate law at one of white shoe firms in NYC
I think there is more to the choice of a legal discipline than meets the eye. Any general conclusions as to the intensity of “attractiveness” factor among disciplines are simply too general to be correct. I believe that each and every area of law may be subject to extraordinarily interesting analysis or may be practiced at the highest level of excellence, be it environmental law, legal history or corporate law. What seems to matter mostly, is conceptual sophistication and the ability to use cutting edge tools. That makes, in my view, an “interesting” academic or practitioner’s activity. Naturally, jurisprudence is just the most universal area where to employ one’s brain (unless, again, you start to specialize).

On a humorous, but somewhat related note – Herbert Hart practiced tax law for years and was widely regarded as one of the leading London barristers in this field at that time. Similarly, Dworkin spent three years (if I remember correctly) practicing corporate law at one of white shoe firms in NYC…
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