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History of the Faculty

The Faculty of Law is founded

The history of the Faculty of Law goes back to the period of the Swedish Empire. When Lund University was founded in 1668 – ten years after the province of Skåne was ceded to Sweden through the Treaty of Roskilde – it also acquired a Faculty of Law. In accordance with the understanding of law at the time, the faculty got its motto, Suum cuique [tribuere], [give] unto each his own, taken from late Roman law. The motto expressed the lawyer’s task in the privileged society of the time: to give to the nobility and the clergy respectively what was rightfully theirs, and to guarantee the privileges and rights of the burghers in the towns.

Samuel Pufendorf – the faculty’s first dean

The faculty’s first dean was recruited from Heidelberg; Samuel Pufendorf, a famous professor of natural law and international law, was the faculty’s most internationally prominent lawyer of all time. His lectures in Latin, the lingua franca at the time, attracted large crowds. Pufendorf became a prominent representative of the University’s original strategic plan: to be an international academy which trained the future civil servants of southern Sweden, with international recognition and regional support.

David Nehrman – a professor with new ideas

During the period of war and unrest under the reign of the Carolean kings, the activities of the University and the faculty declined to a more modest reputation. During the Age of Liberty, however, the faculty came to experience a period of supremacy under Professor David Nehrman. He had studied in Halle during the Nordic war around 1710, coming into contact with the German Enlightenment and its most outstanding representatives. As a professor in Lund, he introduced new ideas: teaching and textbooks in the mother tongue. Nehrman was also the one to introduce degrees in the 1740s by establishing an examen juridicum.

Nehrman was ennobled for his services and given the name Ehrenstråle. The Gustavian faculty was given its character by Ehrenstråle’s imitators; education at the faculty resembled a local college more than an international academy.

Johan Holmbergson

The next important period in the faculty’s history came with Johan Holmbergson, who arrived in Lund from Uppsala in 1811 and, in just over 30 years as professor, created the nucleus of our present-day modern faculty. He made high demands on students’ knowledge and his many students were also captivated by the German legal theory prevailing at the time. At the time of his appointment as professor of general law, he and a colleague, the professor of moral philosophy, made up the entire Faculty of Law. When he left his post in 1842, a reform was implemented resulting in the faculty having four professors.

A growing number of professors
Lawyers were playing an increasingly important role in the construction of modern society. The number of students rose steadily as law became more and more specialised. The theory and practice of law were to work together. At the turn of the century 1900 the faculty had eight professorships, held by internationally trained and recognised individuals. The faculty of the turn of the century has also been referred to as the “the great faculty”, in which the professors of criminal law (Johan C W Thyrén), procedural law (Ernst Kallenberg) and civil law (A.W.Winroth and C.G.Björling) were all national celebrities. It was at this time that the first female law students joined the faculty. One of them, Anna Bugge, was married to the professor of economics at the faculty, Knut Wicksell, himself an internationally famous scholar.

The first half of the 1900s

The idealistic view of law was transformed during the 20th century into an increasingly pragmatic and value-neutral approach. The most outstanding proponents of the Uppsala school’s legal realism, Uppsala professors Vilhelm Lundstedt and Östen Undén, were both educated in Lund, and Lundstedt’s pupil Karl Olivecrona came from Uppsala to Lund in 1933 as a professor of procedural law. He became the apostle of Scandinavian legal realism not only in Lund; he was an internationally recognised legal scholar whose legacy was, however, overshadowed by his passion for Germany in the era of National Socialism. After the Second World War, he was the faculty dean for a period and the instigator of the faculty’s first departmental building, Juridicum, in the southern hospital area.

In the years after 1945 several civil law professors left the faculty for Uppsala and Stockholm. Hjalmar Karlgren became a justice of the Supreme Court, Åke Malmström became a professor in Uppsala and Folke Schmidt in Stockholm. During the Second World War, they took an active part in refugee work involving both resistance fighters and Jews from the Nordic countries.

Anna Christensen – the faculty’s first female professor

In the postwar period, the law degree programme became strongly characterised by the needs of the modern welfare state. The subjects of labour law and administrative law expanded while international law, including European Community law, became increasingly important. Social civil law acquired a significant representative in the faculty’s first female professor, Anna Christensen. The social function of law is held in trust at the faculty today – both within teaching and research – by her academic children and grandchildren.

The faculty today

Our present faculty and its teaching premises are housed in the building in which Samuel Pufendorf’s world-famous writings on natural and international law were printed and disseminated around the world. This is an event which seems intended. After Sweden joined the EU, the faculty’s international profile has become increasingly clear while the faculty remains deeply rooted in both the public and private legal institutions of southern Sweden. International and regional support are currently – just as in 1668 – the main principle of the Faculty of Law.