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The Dennis Leslie Mahoney Prize in Legal Theory

14 October 2020
Applications are now open
The Julius Stone Institute for Jurisprudence invites entries for the Dennis Leslie Mahoney Prize in Legal Theory.

The Julius Stone Institute of Jurisprudence (the Institute) at Sydney Law School invites entries for the Dennis Leslie Mahoney Prize in Legal Theory. This prestigious $50,000 prize is awarded every five years and attracts entries from around the globe.

About the Dennis Leslie Mahoney Prize in Legal Theory

The Dennis Leslie Mahoney Prize in Legal Theory is generously funded by the Honourable Dennis Mahoney QC AO, former President of the New South Wales Court of Appeal. 

Julius Stone stressed the distinction between what the law is conventionally and what it should be. He hoped that what he said would lead to law being, as he said, ‘an instrument for social control’ that had the purpose of achieving the desired kind of society.
The Honourable Dennis Mahoney QC AO

"In the latter parts of ‘The Province and Function of Law’, he discussed what that should be and the means by which it should be achieved."

"I think that, by the time of his death, he would sadly have concluded that those who controlled what the law was and was becoming – the legislature and the courts – had not properly grasped such things and, certainly, were not attempting to achieve his purpose. The Prize was to prompt what he had had in mind – and, of course, as a memorial for him.” – The Honourable Dennis Mahoney QC AO.

Every five years, the author, or authors, of the entry that is deemed to best advance Professor Julius Stone’s sociological and justice-oriented approach to jurisprudence is awarded $50,000.

The prize was most recently awarded in 2016 to Martin Krygier, Gordon Samuels Professor of Law and Social Theory at the University of New South Wales.

Professor Krygier’s winning submission comprised several articles on the rule of law and his book, Philip Selznick: Ideals in the World, which was published by Stanford University Press in 2012. His submission was judged to be the most excellent of the many entries received. Professor Krygier’s sympathetic account of Selznick’s way of thinking and his own thinking about the rule of law were thought to, by the judging committee, substantially further the sociological approach to jurisprudence that Professor Stone pioneered.

The Dennis Leslie Mahoney Prize pays tribute to a great tradition – sociological jurisprudence – pioneered in Australia by Julius Stone.
Professor Martin Krygier, University of New South Wales

"That tradition was long overshadowed in law by doctrinal scholarship and in jurisprudence by analytical/philosophical writings. My work is in that tradition, and I was delighted to have both the work and the tradition recognised in this way." - Professor Martin Krygier, University of New South Wales.

Given the distinction and international reputation of the prize and the calibre of previous winners, it was an honour to receive it and, it must be said, welcome confirmation that this less common path is as valued as I believe it to be valuable. I have sought in turn to honour both the tradition and the prize in my subsequent research and writings.
Professor Martin Krygier, University of New South Wales

About Julius Stone

Professor Julius Stone (original image provided by University of Sydney Archives, G3_224_0672)

The Dennis Leslie Mahoney Prize in Legal Theory and the Institute centre around Julius Stone and his work. So, who is Julius Stone and what were his key contributions?

Professor Julius Stone was Challis Professor of Jurisprudence and International Law at The University of Sydney from 1942 and 1972, and he is internationally recognised as one of the premier legal theorists.

Throughout his life and especially in his seminal work of 1946, The Province and Function of Law, Professor Stone, rather than taking a purely historical or conceptual approach to law, sought to understand it according to the operation and the needs of particular societies.

His thinking, particularly in the areas of human rights and social justice, profoundly influenced generations of students who went on to make major contributions to the life and culture of Australia, on the Bench, in political life, and in the profession.

The Julius Stone Institute of Jurisprudence

The Julius Stone Institute of Jurisprudence aims to promote legal theory in a broad sense through its various activities. It is renowned for its commitment to different approaches to understanding law. The Mahoney Prize is a significant part of that commitment.
Dr Kevin Walton, Director of Julius Stone Institute of Jurisprudence

The Institute was established in 1999. It aims to celebrate and honour Professor Stone's outstanding contribution to legal scholarship and law reform. Further, the Institute is designed to keep faith with Professor Stone’s commitment to the importance of legal theory in its broad sense, which includes philosophical reflection, sociological theory and comparative enquiry.

The Institute is recognised globally as a leader in the field of jurisprudence and serves as a focus for new and imaginative work, vehicle for extending and deepening Australian legal culture’s engagement with legal theory and issues of social justice, and central hub for projecting Australia’s own contributions internationally.

The Institute plays a leading role in the development, dissemination and application of legal theory in Australia and fosters the international engagement of legal theorists working in Australia.


Applications for the Dennis Leslie Mahoney Prize in Legal Theory close on 30 June 2021.

Prize terms and conditions including the eligibility criteria and judging process. 

The author or authors themselves can apply, or someone else, such as a publisher, can nominate them. The application must include an abstract that explains how the entry relates to the purpose of the Prize, as set out in the terms and conditions. The winner will be announced in December 2021. Please send any questions about the Prize to law.jsi@sydney.edu.au.

Dennis Leslie Mahoney Prize in Legal Theory application form.

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