Multidimensionality of Professional Knowledge
Evgeniy Salygin, Dean of the HSE Faculty of Law, told us about the specific features of legal education at the Higher School of Economics and the preparations for this year’s students’enrollment.
- Evgeniy Nikolayevich, all HSE faculties have started to prepare for the enrollment of students. Please tell us what you and your fellow professors hope your prospective students will be like.
- We are interested in students who are not only motivated to get a legal education, but also have a high level of general knowledge and culture and have deep interest in humanities. The law is rapidly changing, some areas of law and legal institutions can fade away or disappear, and today it is not enough to focus only on one area of legal activity. It could lead to a situation when sometimes this activity stops being in demand. We would like our students to be flexible and prepared for this kind of social change. To think, analyze, reason, compare, constantly learn and professionally self-develop - that's what a student should learn to do to become successful. I would like our students to master so-called ‘meta skills':setting priorities, working in a team, realizing projects and communicating, since these skills are highly important and needed in any professional area.
- What is the difference between the educational programme of your faculty and other law universities'programmes?
- If we compare education at the leading law universities with our education, we see clear differences in several areas. Our education is legal and economic;it is geared towards the best international educational models combining fundamental education with mastering of practical skills and knowledge.
We have many economic courses. We show our students not only how the law regulates particular issues, but how it acts practically in the economy, what the peculiarities of law application are, and in what direction the law is likely to develop. We actively involve practicing lawyers from Russian and international companies in our teaching:they build their classes with students on the basis of their real experience.
We have a broad range of specializations, and after studying their basic courses, students have the opportunity to decide which professional activity is of the most interest for them. The area of comparative law is very strongly represented at the Faculty. Many disciplines involve learning of not only Russian law, but international as well. We give our students an opportunity to participate in international legal contests and internships since we understand the importance of such experience.
- Do you have any new special forms of students'education?
- Fundamental courses, such as Theory of State and Law or Constitutional Law, not speaking of Civil or Entrepreneurial Law, involve special forms of education, such as role plays, creative written tasks, research seminars and case studies. Generally speaking, case studies are very actively used in various areas of knowledge. In law this form is traditional and very productive. We take a real lawsuit, which already has a verdict, as a basis, and analyze all its aspects in detail. In spite of the fact that the court has already drawn a line under the suit, there are nearly always some claims, argument and counterarguments which have not been taken into consideration by the court. The teacher and the students return to the consideration of those suits, try to analyze all the strengths and weaknesses of the case and thoroughly analyze the real legal proceedings. One of the tasks for the students may be the preparation of objections, appeals on the case, the claim or discussion of a hypothetic situation:how the process could change if some new document were presented to the court. We often have sharp discussions and other interesting things here, and our legal practice gives an endless source of cases for detailed study with the students.
- Did the HSE receiving the status of the National Research University influence the volume, quality or directions of research work at the faculty?
- The Higher School of Economics offers many incentives for the students to get involved in research activities:I mean increased scholarships, grants and stipends from different funds. Since one of the necessary conditions of getting a scholarship is to have been published, we annually publish collections of student papers and a journal on comparative legal science. In addition to this, students participate in projects organized by our departments, as well as taking part in the work of our club called ‘Law and the Information Society'. All these activities allow students to broaden their opportunities and demonstrate the multidimensionality of professional legal knowledge.
- Your Faculty's website lists international universities with which you have established partner relations. How productive are they? Is the system of student and teacher exchanges and internships working?
- The list of partner international universities is constantly growing. Last year we added to Sorbonne, Cologne and Luxembourg University a number of European schools where five of our professors have taken research scholarships. We actively participate in international academic events, and we have established partner relations with Strasbourg and Cambridge Universities. But there are serious obstacles in our way. Law is a national area, and legal education is focused on the study of national specifics. To study the law of another country, to understand legal details, terminology and structures, lots of time and effort are needed, and at the end of the day, success is not guaranteed. And speaking of internships in Russia for our international colleagues, the problem is that almost all literature on Russian law is in Russian, and courses are also taught in Russian. Nevertheless, we are moving in this direction and arranging joint research projects. Now we are working with our partner university Paris I Pantheon-Sorbonne on a project on comparative analysis of competition law in France and Russia, and at the end of this joint research there will be a conference in Moscow as early as this year. The Forum will be dedicated to the Year of France in Russia. We have two more joint seminar projects with Cologne and Luxemburg Universities. Our students who are interested in international cooperation and the solution of international problems, often take the initiative and apply for international master's programmes at partner universities.
- What do you think of the Faculty's graduates and their career opportunities?
- Once we tried to create an overall image, a model of our graduate, to define what competencies he has after the university graduation, and came to the conclusion that our graduate is in some ways a unique one. On one hand, he gets fundamental knowledge, which is essential for a classical legal education. This cornerstone is gained through the organised and logical study of a number of disciplines:starting with history, philosophy, economics and sociology, and up to specialized professional subjects. On the other hand, by involving practicing lawyers in teaching at the faculty, including study and analysis of specific problems in the educational process, offering master classes by leading experts of the country and involving students in research work from the first year of study, we give them practice-oriented knowledge. We provide students with the knowledge necessary for analytical work.
Most of our graduates find employment not in the public sector and not in law-enforcement authorities or courts, but in business. We see that they are motivated not by a step by step career in organizations where everything depends on years of employment or flawless response to orders. We know that they are interested in live legal practice in constantly changing circumstances. They are interested in working in companies and organizations where they have to use their intelligence and talents.