Chair of Legal Culture & Legal Linguistics 


The Chair of Legal Culture and Legal Linguistics is maintained and developed in the spirit of the international study of law, a spirit well captured by renowned comparative lawyer Hessel E. Yntema when he stated, over fifty ears ago, legal science does not admit chauvinist isolation’ (Am. J. Comp. L. 1958 at 498). This is the academic motto of the Chair, for it describes fittingly its general motivation and intention.

The Faculty 

The Chair is situated in the Faculty of Law at the University of Lapland, the northernmost University in the European Union. The University is located in the city of Rovaniemi, capital of Finnish Lapland. 

The Faculty of Law was established in 1979 and today it boasts some 900 degree students in its undergraduate and graduate programmes. The Faculty works in close cooperation with courts, other law faculties in Finland, and its counterparts internationally. It offers a number of courses and lectures in English. Internationally oriented, the Faculty welcomes some 60 incoming exchange students annually, and sends about the same number of its own students abroad. Lapland is one of only three faculties in Finland offering a degree programme that qualifies graduates for the practice of law. 

                                                                                                                                            Rovaniemi IS LOCATED on the ARCTIC Circle

Husa and Smits.png

                                                                                                                                                                                        Professors J. Husa and J. Smits 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                (in front of Santa Claus’ Office at the Arctic Circle)


The Chair of Legal Culture and Legal Linguistics was established in autumn 2009 in response to an official proposal by the Faculty Council, which was accepted by the University Senate in December. This decision broadened the academic scope of the previous Chair of Legal Linguistics to cover Legal Culture. In the beginning of 2000s, the Faculty had established a chair in Legal Linguistics, which gained international acclaim with its extensive linguistic research on legal communication. Comparative legal linguistics in particular was the academic backbone of the previous chair. However, the Faculty sought to broaden the scope of the post and bring the teaching and research undertaken closer to more traditional fields of legal research. 

Earlier, the Chair was held by renowned comparative legal linguist Professor Dr. Heikki E.S. Mattila. The present chair-holder Professor Dr. Jaakko Husa was invited to accept the post from the University of Eastern Finland, where he held the Chair of Constitutional Law and General Jurisprudence. He accepted the invitation and started in January 2011. 


Professor Husa regards the cultural and language dimensions of law from a non-national comparative point of view. In his teaching and research, he stresses the comparative dimension and its significance when trying to conceive of law and its cultural dimensions in an internationally comprehensible manner. This kind of comparative study of legal cultures means grasping law through the points of view offered by comparative law, historical jurisprudence and comparative legal linguistics. All of these perspectives underline the importance of the contexts of law; positive law and legal doctrine are also taken into account. 

One implication of this core idea is that multi-langue translators of legal terminology and legal documents are always obliged to practise comparative law. This can be seen in the research undertaken within the ambit of the Chair. Several doctoral dissertations are being written in the fields of legal culture and legal linguistics. These studies vary from comparing Islamic and Western legal cultures through comparative research of the sovereignty of indigenous peoples to translations in the Court of Justice of the European Union.

While the Chair is now more extensive in scope, it is still founded on a basic assumption whereby legal language is a lawyer’s most essential tool. The Chair emphasises international cooperation and seeks to find partners who share similar legal cultural interests. One example is the Maastricht European Private Law Institute, where Prof. Husa is an Invited Fellow. Another partner, especially in the field of legal language, is the Riga Graduate School of Law.


The chair-holder’s specialist areas include linguistically sensitive comparative legal studies and Constitutional Law. He has published articles in the American Journal of Comparative Law, Rabels Zeitschrift für ausländisches und internationales Privatrecht, Revue internationale de droit comparé, Global Jurist, Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law, German Law Journal, Rechtstheorie, and Zeitschrift für Rechtsvergleichung. His latest book, The Constitution of Finland – A Contextual Analysis, was published by Hart Publishing at the end of 2010. (See Husa in SSRN).


Professor Husa teaches on a regular basis in other Finnish universities and he holds adjunct professorships at the Universities of Eastern Finland, Helsinki, and Vaasa. He also regularly teaches doctoral courses at the Universities of Lund and Stockholm in Sweden. 

The present chair-holder is an elected member of the International Academy of Comparative Law and an invited member of the Tampere Club.