Vilnius University Faculty of Law Celebrates the 380th Anniversary On October 11th.The history of the Faculty dates back to 1641, when the Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland Vladislav Vasa issued the royal privilege on the basis of which the studies of law were permitted and the Vilnius University Faculty of Law was established. It was the first institution of its kind in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Today it remains the inevitable element of the modern Lithuanian legal system and the Alma mater for the country’s leading legal professionals.
“The Faculty’s birthday does not only mark the establishment of an important institution of higher legal education, but also the beginning of a new chapter in the history of this Eastern European region. Lithuania already had proven its strong European legal affiliation with the adoption of modern codified legislation, like Lithuanian Statutes I (1529), II (1566) and III (1588), but quality legal education in Vilnius has helped to build solid foundations for recognition and support of the principles of justice and rule of law within our society in the centuries to come“, says Dean of the Vilnius University Faculty of Law professor Tomas Davulis. “In light of the challenges of today, the Faculty’s birthday celebration brings all of us together and reminds us of the core values that define us as a society, and of the responsibilities we shall be ready to take on passionately and carry on patiently every day.“
In the early days, one of the oldest faculties in Vilnius University was highly supported by Kazimierz Leon Sapieha, a Lithuanian nobleman, who donated a huge book collection and allocated necessary financial funds. For almost two hundred years law was taught here by the most prominent scientists of that time, until in 1832 Nikolaj I, Emperor of Russia, ordered to close the university down. In 1919 Vilnius University was reestablished again, but since the region was annexed by Poland, it continued to operate in Kaunas. When Lithuania had recaptured the Vilnius region, the Faculty of Laws was transferred back to the capital. In March 1942 the Faculty of Law was closed again but then after two years it resumed its activities and performs them to this day.
During almost four centuries, the Faculty of Law has become a true pillar of the Lithuanian national legal system. All major modern legislation such as the Constitution, Civil code, Labor code, Criminal code, Procedural codes and other major laws were created under leadership of the professors of the Faculty. The lecturers and the researchers of the Faculty also have left traces in the European legal system while working as judges in the European courts and international organizations.
“Learning the best from the past, every year we do our best to make our studies relevant and innovative. This allows us to ensure that graduates are prepared for a career in law. We are glad that many of them have been top-level legal scholars and practitioners for centuries, and we wish strength and determination in their work to the entire faculty community,” says VU Faculty of Law Vice-Dean for Studies Assoc. dr. Haroldas Šinkūnas.
Now Vilnius University Faculty of Law has more than 1700 students and around 130 lecturers, including internationally acclaimed scholars and local legal practitioners, working in diverse national legal institutions. Every year more than 200 students graduate with Master in Law diploma, who later choose to pursue careers as attorneys at law, judges, prosecutors, notaries, corporate councils in public and private sectors. Alongside with memberships in the professional and institutional international and European networks, the Law Faculty of Vilnius University holds more than 50 international agreements with other law schools worldwide. As a founding institution, it hosts the International PhD network, Schools of German Law, French Law, Polish Law, and the Vilnius university Tech Hub. Moreover, students from various counties can choose well-recognized Master program “International and European Law“ with tracks in Human Rights, Technology law, and Business law.
On October 11-15 remote VU Faculty of Law anniversary events will take place daily from 10AM, during which prominent faculty members, researchers and other members of the legal community will present relevant topics and attend in discussions.