The Aharon Barak Center for Interdisciplinary Legal Research facilitates, encourages, and coordinates cutting-edge interdisciplinary legal research by scholars from the Faculty of Law, other Hebrew University faculties, and from around the globe.
The Faculty of Law
Established in 1949 as the first law school in Israel, the Faculty of Law is the alma mater of the vast majority of Israeli Supreme Court justices, Israel’s most prominent legal scholars, senior government officials and legal practitioners. The Faculty of Law strives for excellence in research. Many faculty members hold graduate degrees from leading international universities and spend time teaching or conducting research abroad. Legal research at the Faculty has a theoretical and interdisciplinary focus, and scholarly work produced by members of the Faculty of Law figures prominently in leading legal journals.
Aharon Barak is the most prominent lawyer, legal scholar, and judge in Israel of his generation. A full professor at the Hebrew University at the age of 36, even prior to this Barak was already known as an international expert in civil law, chairing important international committees in this field. Barak was appointed as Attorney General of Israel at age 39, and three years later (in 1978) he was appointed to the Israeli Supreme Court. In 1995, he was nominated as the President of the Supreme Court of Israel and he served in this position until his retirement in 2006. Barak is considered to be one of the most brilliant and fruitful legal scholars of our time. As a Judge, Barak was the driving force behind the fundamental transformation of Israeli law throughout the last 30 years and the rise of the Supreme Court as an influential and central institution in the protection of democratic values in the Israeli polity. His decisions have shaped almost every field of law, and have had profound impact on the status of this court among the international legal community. While Barak began his career as an expert in civil and commercial law, as a judge he soon became the most influential figure on the bench in public and constitutional law. Subsequently, Barak became increasingly interested in international law and his rulings in this field are now studied by lawyers and scholars around the world. Throughout his career as a judge Barak did not cease his work as a legal scholar and published numerous books on legal interpretation and methodology—some of which have been translated to several languages.
Barak began his association with the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University as a law student in 1955, going on to become a faculty member and a Dean of the Faculty in 1974-1975. As an Attorney General and Justice of the Supreme Court, Barak continued to teach at the Faculty, and he regards the Faculty not only as his Alma Mater but also as his intellectual home. It was thus only natural that upon Barak's retirement from the bench, the Faculty decided to honor his commitment and devotion to the Hebrew University and his contributions to Israeli law and society through the establishment of the Aharon Barak Center for Interdisciplinary Legal Research.
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The Aharon Barak Center for Interdisciplinary Legal Research
This Center seeks to honor and expand the legacy of Aharon Barak through excellence in interdisciplinary legal research.
In today’s legal world, legal research is almost always intertwined with research in other disciplines such as economics, sociology and psychology; history, philosophy, and literature. Legal research today also entails collaboration between researchers (both lawyers and social scientists) from different legal and cultural systems. The Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University includes internationally renowned experts in such fields as economic analysis of law, law and criminology, philosophy of law, and behavioral legal studies.
The Barak Center provides the institutional and organizational framework that enables the Hebrew University to operate in the competitive global environment of contemporary academia. It does so by providing research grants and support for research groups, conferences, and doctoral students who use interdisciplinary methodology for the study of law. The Center aims, in particular, to answer the growing need for competitive working conditions in Israeli academia for brilliant young legal academics who specialize in interdisciplinary research and to enable the Faculty to increase its participation and influence within the global legal-academic community.
The Barak Center is part of the Faculty of Law, and is operated according to Hebrew University regulations for research centers. Aharon Barak serves as the Center’s honorary President. The Academic Director of the Center is appointed from among members of the Faculty, and an Academic Committee sets Center goals and policies and supervises its activities and budgets.
Professor Assaf Hamdani serves as the Center’s inaugural Academic Director. Professor Alon Harel is Chair of the Center’s Academic Committee. Other members of the Academic Committee include scholars who specialize in various aspects of interdisciplinary legal studies, from the Faculty of Law, the Institute of Criminology, the Center for the Study of Rationality, the School of Education, and the department of International Relations.
Research Grants: The Center offers research grants to encourage new and innovative interdisciplinary legal research.
Fellowships: The Center offers fellowships to LL.M. and Ph.D. students to encourage the use of interdisciplinary methodology in legal research. In addition, the Center offers postdoctoral fellowships and hosts postdoctoral scholars from abroad.
International Activities: The Center encourages international collaboration between Hebrew University faculty members and scholars from abroad by supporting international conferences.
Academic Publications: The Center supports the publication of books, journals and internet bulletins in relevant research areas. It also supports academic seminars, conferences and forums and, when appropriate, subsequently publishes the resulting collection of papers.