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Vilnius University Faculty of Law Celebrated the 375th Anniversary

On 11 September, the top Lithuanian lawyers, the academic community of VU Faculty of Law and law students gathered in St. Johns’ church to celebrate the 375th anniversary of VU Faculty of Law.  In the church flooded with the sounds of the organ, Faculty of Law students carried in the most important document of the Faculty of Law – the privilege issued on 11 October 1641 by the Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland Wladyslaw Vasa, under which the Faculty was established. Later, the sacral space was filled with the music of saxophonist Vytautas Labutis, multi-instrumentalist Saulius Petreikis and VU choir Pro Music, and the altar was transformed into a screen with the images depicting historical moments of the faculty.

Kazimierz Leon Sapieha, a nobleman of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, played a pivotal role in establishing and supporting the Faculty – the first institution of a kind in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Bibliotheca Sapiehana is a huge book collection that he gave as a present to the Faculty.

One of the oldest faculties of Vilnius University now has more than 1500 students and almost 100 lecturers, including internationally acclaimed scholars and legal practitioners, working in diverse legal institutions.

Each year, VU Faculty of Law prepared around 260 graduates (MA in Law)  who choose to pursue careers as attorneys at law, judges, prosecutors, notaries, bailiffs or corporate councils in public and private sectors. Previously, the legal profession has been associated more with men, but today it is more often chosen by women – 60 percent.

“Collecting all the best from the past, we are working hard to make our study programmes relevant, innovative and popular not only among the Lithuanian students. In addition to our integrated study programme, we have 4 Master’s programmes, one of which is international, taught in English. It is gratifying that the number of foreign students choosing the programme “International and European Union law” is growing. The new interdisciplinary undergraduate study programme “Business and Law” was successfully launched in September this year”, – says Vilnius University Faculty of Law Dean prof. Tomas Davulis.

During more than three centuries, VU Faculty of Law has become an exclusive element in the Lithuanian national legal system. All major legislation such as the Constitution, Civil, Labour, Criminal Codes and other laws were created not without the hand of the professors of the Faculty. What is more, they have contributed to the creation of legal textbooks for students.

In addition, a number of the Faculty of Law’s professors were actively engaged in the independence movement of Lithuania. Dr. Kęstutis Lapinskas ir prof. Jonas Prapiestis are the signatories of the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania. Prof. Pranas Kūris is one of the main co-authors and editors of the Act.

The professors of the Faculty also have left traces in the European legal system while working as judges in The European Court of Human Rights, the European Union Court of Justice and the General Court.

At the celebration, Artūras Žukauskas, Rector of Vilnius University stressed that legal science is one of the most important sciences in our country. “I am glad that the alumni and professors of VU Law Faculty have formed the modern Lithuania – a democratic and independent, respected and respectful country. Between the walls of the University, a new talented generation is growing thanks to the academic community of the Faculty of Law. I wish the Faculty would not stop keeping the spirit of leadership alive”, – said Rector.