Law studies

Law studies [юриспруденція or правознавство; iurysprudentsiia or pravoznavstvo]. The system of preparing members of the legal profession for the practice of law. The aims, teaching methods, and requirements of legal education vary with social, political, and legal context.

In Kyivan Rus’, the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia, and the Hetman state, there was no formal legal education. Court officials became familiar with the basic codes and customary law through practice. They read the legal literature, which was translated, usually from Byzantine sources. Law was taught in court schools in the 13th and 14th centuries in Volhynia, Kyiv, and Lviv. The Ostroh Academy taught law. Brotherhood schools in the 16th and 17th centuries, the colleges of the 18th century, and the Kyivan Mohyla Academy did not teach law as a separate discipline, but their rhetoric and theology courses covered some elements of law. Monastery schools also taught elements of law. In the 16th to 18th centuries, Ukrainian students acquired a basic legal education in academies and universities in Cracow, Prague, and Western Europe. From the mid-18th century Ukrainians from central and eastern Ukraine could study law at Moscow University (est 1755) and Saint Petersburg University (est 1819). The Ukrainian legal specialist and economist Mykhailo Baluhiansky taught law and served as rector at the latter university.

In Russian-ruled Ukraine a system of legal education was introduced in the early 19th century with the founding of the first universities and lyceums. Kharkiv University, Kyiv University, and Odesa University had law faculties. According to the 1863 statute governing universities in the Russian Empire, the four-year legal program included the history of legal philosophy, Roman law, civil law and civil procedure, criminal law and criminal procedure, the history of Russian law, state law, international law, financial and commercial law and procedure, ecclesiastical law, political economy, and statistics. In addition, law students had to take courses in logic, Roman history, Russian history, forensic medicine, and a foreign language. Orthodox students were also required to study theology. Legal education was also offered by lyceums, which prepared young men of the privileged estates for careers in government. The Nizhyn Lyceum, which specialized in legal education from 1840 to 1875, trained officials for legal institutions. In the early 19th century, courses in canon law were introduced at the Kyiv Theological Academy and at various theological seminaries.

In Ukrainian territories under Habsburg rule, legal education was offered from 1784 at Lviv University and from 1875 at Chernivtsi University. In 1862 and 1872 the first law chairs with the Ukrainian language as the language of instruction were set up in Lviv. Ukrainian students studied law also in Vienna, Cracow, and Graz. Instruction lasted for four years and covered of three basic areas: history (including legal history, Roman law, theory), jurisprudence (civil law, criminal law, and procedural law), and political science (state law, positive and administrative law, and economics). Those who passed state examinations were qualified to work in the legal system. Lawyers had to complete a doctorate of law, eight years of articling, and an examination by the chamber of advocates.

Under the Polish regime in the interwar Poland, legal education culminated in a master of law degree, which qualified the holder for positions in the courts or government or for private practice. A doctorate of law was an academic degree which required the writing of a dissertation and the passing of rigorous examinations. The Lviv (Underground) Ukrainian University (1921–5) had a law faculty with 23 lecturers and over 600 students.

Transcarpathian lawyers were trained at the universities of Vienna and Budapest, or the law schools in Košice and Nagyvárad (Oradea), where training lasted two years. In the interwar period residents of Transcarpathia could study law at a school for notaries in Košice, in Czechoslovak universities, or at the Ukrainian Free University (est 1921) in Prague. With its faculty of law and socioeconomic studies, this university became the main center for Ukrainian legal education abroad.

Under the educational reforms of the early 1920s in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, law faculties were transferred to institutes of the national economy. Legal education became completely controlled by the Communist Party, and subservient to its aims and directives. The leading specialists and professors were trained mostly at higher Party schools (see Communist party education). In 1922 a law department was established at the Institute of Red Professors. In 1931 the Institute of Law and Soviet Construction (est 1929) became part of the All-Ukrainian Association of Marxist-Leninist Scientific Research Institutes. Its role was to train lecturers in law for higher educational institutions and conduct law research. With the revival of universities in Ukraine, law faculties were reopened at Kyiv University and Odesa University. The Kharkiv Juridical Institute (est 1935) had four faculties: Soviet formation, law, economic law, and international law. In 1934 a system of law schools with a one-year program was set up to train raion-level cadres, such as procurators and people’s judges.

Subsequently, legal education was offered at Kyiv University, Lviv University, and Odesa University and at the Kharkiv Juridical Institute. These institutions trained legal specialists with higher qualifications for the courts, the procuracy, the investigative branch, and the administrative courts, as well as legal advisers to government bodies and community organizations. In addition to the regular five-year programs, they offered six-year correspondence courses and night courses. Special correspondence courses and seminars were open to employees of legal institutions who wished to upgrade their qualifications. The universities in Kyiv and Lviv provided one-year courses or seminars for lower court judges, notaries, assessors, and court secretaries. All economics and finance students were required to take courses in law.

In the late 1950s a system of community universities of legal sciences was created to propagate knowledge of Soviet law. By 1960 there were 36 such universities in the Ukrainian SSR, and by April 1966 there were 156. Most of the students were from the militia, or were members of comrades’ courts, or were people’s assessors, factory directors, or Communist Party, trade-union, or Komsomol functionaries. The program, usually lasted one year, consisted of monthly lectures on civil law, administrative law, criminal law, and international law, and on Soviet construction.

Ivan Bakalo

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]




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