Brief history of the Romanian law school

The Law School in Romania, apart from a university organization, however as a superior form of education, was founded in a favorable era for the affirmation of the Romanian people, in the context of the propagation of Enlightenment ideas on the native territory, when the construction of the national education system evaded the desideratum stated in 1821, taken over by the 1848’s revolutionaries and, finally,  conquered by the Lord of the United Principalities, Alexandru Ioan Cuza.

Which is the oldest law school in Romanian territory?

In the process of creating a law school in Romania, its incipient form in the east of the country in Iași was noted; thus, after the establishment, in 1835, of the Mihăilean Academy in Iași, two faculties of Law and Philosophy were organized. In parallel, in Bucharest, in 1832, Petrache Poenaru’s reform determined the creation of higher legal and scientific courses within the “Saint Sava” National College. Here, the Faculty of Law was to be established later, in 1850, in 1859, by princely decree, becoming an institution independent of the College in which it had been founded in the form of courses.

However, these are only the beginnings of legal study in the eastern part of the country, because, in the West, legal sciences were deepened in the form of courses since the end of the sixteenth century, the languages of instruction being Latin, German and Hungarian, due to the fact that the  western area was exposed directly and with primacy to the Enlightenment perspective of approaching state evolution, so Empress Maria Theresa founded the  Faculty of Law within her Royal  Catholic and Law Academy in Oradea. It is considered the oldest Faculty of Law on Romanian territory, being, for a long time, the only higher education institution where law in Eastern Europe could be deepened.

However, unlike the Faculties of Law in the Eastern area, the Habsburg creation abruptly ceased its activity, the law being studied in the West at the Royal Roman-Catholic High School, at the Reformed College and at the Unitarian College in Cluj, until 1848; later, in 1863 the Academy of Law was founded with teaching in Hungarian.

About the universities of the United Principalities of Moldova and Wallachia

Arriving around 1860, after the union of the Principalities, the new ruler, Alexandru Ioan Cuza, crowns the effort of the Bonjourists by creating  a University that is by itself an act of culture and security of the development of society as a whole, namely the University of Iași or “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University, which initially included only three faculties, including the Faculty of Law already established in 1830. Four years later, together with the education law, a University was created in Bucharest that mirrored the creation of Iași and included the already existing faculties, the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Sciences and the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy.

When are the two law faculties in Cluj established?

However, in the other half of the Romanian territory, in 1872, Franz Joseph University was founded, which included the Academy of Law.

After the creation of Greater Romania, in 1918, “Ferdinand” University was founded in Cluj, replacing Franz Joseph University, including once again a faculty of law with teaching in Romanian. At that time, over forty percent of Greater Romania’s students were law students. In 1934 the Academy of Law of Oradea will be integrated into the structure of the Faculty of Law of the “Ferdinand” University of Cluj which, in 1940, due to the pressure of war, moves to Sibiu, “Franz Joseph” University returning to Cluj.

After the end of the war, in 1945, both Franz Joseph University and “Ferdinand” University continued their activity in Cluj, which implied the existence of two Faculties of Lawf, one with teaching in Romanian, the other in Hungarian.

When are the two law faculties in Cluj established?

It should be remembered that in all centers where law was studied, it lasted four years, the university curriculum in Bucharest indicating the existence of nine departments, namely Roman law, Roman civil law, civil law procedure, criminal law and criminal law procedure, constitutional law, administrative law and political economy. However, with the establishment of communism, the duration of legal studies is reduced to 3 years, for a period of two years the two institutions being reunited in an Institute of Legal and Economic Sciences. In 1959, the Central Committee of the RCP ordered the unification of Babeş University – taught in Romanian – and Bolyai University – taught in Hungarian –, and within Babeş-Bolyai University there would be a single Faculty of Law, with teaching in Romanian.

The technical dominance of socialist education makes Bucharest function for about thirty years as well as a section of law and one of economic and administrative law. However, since 1962 training courses have been organized for lawyers from the state apparatus, economy and administration.

In conclusion

After 1989 there was a liberalization of Romanian legal thought and, moreover, a democratic multiplication of centers where Law could be studied, including in the form of private higher education institutions.

Although substantially unchanged, the Faculties of Law are hosting more and more students, the inclination towards the study of legal sciences resonating with the humanistic thought of the time. The curricular content has changed, expanding and diversifying according to the affirmation of new branches of law, and the previous socialist tendencies of compressing the study of law with other sciences have been replaced by multidisciplinary research of the legal phenomenon, the science of law prevailing in approach, observed being in relation to other areas of daily life.

Aisha Mahmood

Legal Intern @ R&R Partners 

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