HSE University will develop research activities for various fields of legal studies, namely historical/theoretical law studies and sector-specific law.
In the coming years, the activities of professionals in law and legal support will undergo profound changes, and some of the legal professions will disappear completely. Furthermore, legal studies and instruction of future lawyers are shifting towards the use of advanced developments in Computer Sciences, Life Sciences and Genetics. Moreover, the contents of research and educational programmes will become more globally oriented, along with a focus on environmental issues.
The major area of focus of research at the Faculty of Law will be primarily directed towards the solution of issues related to legal regulation in the contemporary post-industrial society, which relates to all spheres of people’s lives (“Post-Industrialization of Law”). The key research fields include the following:
- new private law in the context of automation of production processes and transfer of main economic activities to sectors for services and intellectual products, as well as respective aggregation processes (“New Private Law”);
- digitization of law, development of artificial legal intelligence, Big Data, e-commerce and the creation of Legal Tech industry (“Digital Law”);
- universalization of public law in light of a globalized economy and the heightened role of international law (“Global Law”);
- legal regulation of consumption in light of constant population growth, resource scarcity and environmental pollution (“Biolaw”).
During the implementation of the “Digital Law” project, the International Laboratory for Information Technology and Intellectual Property Law and the Master’s programme “Intellectual Property and IT Law”, as well as the Institute of Legal Research, will all play central roles. The research subjects at the laboratory will shift from traditional issues related to intellectual property rights to digitization of law in all its forms, i.e., from basic research on AI, Big Data, societal changes stemming from digitization processes, to practical issues related to e-commerce, blockchain systems, use of robotic technologies, Legal Tech, etc.
In addition, the Institute of Legal Research will enhance the practical component of its activities by building long-term relations with clients and widening its pool of experts – starting from staff members at the Faculty of Law and HSE University, to external experts, with whom the institute has long-standing ties.
As a way to expand the practical aspects in the field of “Digital Law”, a Legal Tech business incubator will be established on a cross-disciplinary basis, where students of Law, together with students majoring in Computer Science, will conduct various business projects with the University’s support. Such efforts will largely pave the way for the implementation of the “Digital Faculty of Law” project, both for the HSE Faculty of Law and other legal universities in Russia and abroad. The business incubator can host courses in Computer Sciences, which will allow lawyers to write simple programs independently, work with AI, etc.
“Global Law” is set to become an advanced research field. To this end, HSE University can draw upon the already established Laboratory of International Justice, Laboratory for the Study of Public Interest Protection under Economic Sanctions, the Department of International Public Law and Private Law, the Master’s programmes “Law of International Trade, Finance and Economic Integration” and “International Private Law”. Also, research in “Global Law” may help in the creation of an international laboratory regarding globalization and law.
The “Biolaw” field will also progress significantly, relying on the expertise of the HSE-Skolkovo Institute for Law and Development, the Life Sciences Law Department, and the Master’s programme “Legal Regulation of Pharmaceutics and Biotechnologies”. The cornerstone for the provision of distinctly diverse studies (e.g., medical and pharmaceutical law, legal regulation of biotechnologies/reproductive biotechnologies, legal environmental protection, and antitrust regulation) is comprehensive support for real-life activities. This field, which has broad representation globally, will likely see the creation of an international laboratory at the University, which shall be focused on the development of brand new regulatory practices.
For certain fields at the Faculty of Law, permanent subject-specific committees will be set up, which will be filled with the representatives of respective Faculty’s subdivisions, laboratories and institutes (e.g., “development committees”). These committees will be tasked with coordinating activities in particular fields and developing specific measures for the Development Programme’s implementation for HSE University’s administration.
Furthermore, efforts will be made to overcome methodological isolation, as is sometimes typical of legal professions. To this end, researchers of legal matters should master methods, drawn from the Social Sciences, namely, at the very least, basic quantitative and qualitative methods.