Julius Stone portrait
Centres and institutes_

Julius Stone Institute of Jurisprudence

A focus for theoretical scholarship in Australia

The Institute was formed in honour and recognition of Professor Julius Stone's outstanding contribution to legal scholarship.

The Julius Stone Institute of Jurisprudence was established in 1999 with the assistance of funds raised from and by the alumni and friends of the University of Sydney Law School, in particular from those who were students of Professor Stone or who had worked with, or been influenced by him.

The institute continues the Sydney Law School’s strong leadership in this field, and recognises, honours and celebrates Stone’s outstanding contribution to legal scholarship.

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. It serves as a focus for new and imaginative work, not only at the University of Sydney, but across Australia. It serves as a vehicle for extending and deepening Australian legal culture’s engagement with legal theory and issues of social justice, and for projecting Australia’s own contributions internationally. It also stands as a celebration of Professor Stone’s commitment to legal scholarship and law reform.

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.

It pursues these objectives by:

  • sponsoring lectures, including an annual Julius Stone Lecture in Jurisprudence, as well as seminars, workshops and other similar activities
  • supporting visits of distinguished scholars of jurisprudence
  • supporting and funding high-quality postgraduate study in the field of legal theory
  • arranging the publication of papers, reports and other works
  • providing information about resources in legal theory.

Julius Stone was Challis Professor of Jurisprudence and International Law at the University of Sydney from 1942 to 1972. He was, and is, recognised internationally as one of the premier legal theorists. 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 professions. He died in 1985.

Professor Stone was born on 7 July 1907 in Leeds, Yorkshire and was educated on scholarship at Oxford (BA, BCL, DCL), Leeds (LLM) and Harvard (SJD) universities. He taught at Harvard, where he was associated with the great American jurist Roscoe Pound, and briefly at Leeds. He was Dean of Law at Auckland University College before being appointed to the University of Sydney Law School.

Professor Stone came to Sydney Law School to assume the Challis Chair in 1942. His appointment was wrapped in controversy, driven by the perceived radicalism of his jurisprudential stance, the desire of some to keep the Chair open for candidates in the armed forces, and, it has often been suspected, Stone’s identity as a Jew. Nevertheless Stone was appointed, after a stormy debate waged in the newspapers and in Parliament, and punctuated by the resignations of the Chancellor and two Fellows of the University Senate. Indeed, Stone’s appointment was crucial in the evolution of University governance, reinforcing the primacy of academic judgement, vested in the Academic Board, in appointments.

Thus Professor Stone embarked on his long career at Sydney Law School. His output was marked by rigorous research, and he built up a substantial research establishment in a new Department of Jurisprudence and International Law. He was a committed and inspirational teacher as well as being instrumental in founding the Sydney Law Review and the Australian Society for Legal Philosophy.

Professor Stone worked equally in international law and jurisprudence. On the jurisprudential side, he wrote many articles and a trilogy on jurisprudence. His most influential jurisprudential works were The Province and Function of Law (1946) and Precedent and Law: Dynamics of Common Law Growth (1985).

Professor Stone played a crucial role in transforming Australian legal education and has had an enormous influence on a generation of legal scholars and practitioners. He was very influential internationally, effective in, for example, advocating the ‘hot line’ that linked the leaders of the United States and Russia during the Cold War. The honours he received are too numerous to mention here, but he held long-term visiting professorships at Hastings College of Law in California and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Upon his retirement from Sydney Law School in 1972, Professor Stone moved to the University of New South Wales, where he spent a further decade of productive engagement. It was during that time that he wrote Precedent and Law, which was published posthumously in 1985.

The Julius Stone Address, inaugurated in 2000, is an annual lecture given by a leading international scholar of jurisprudence. The address is attended by judges, academics, leading members of the legal profession and the broader community. It is kindly sponsored by the Educational Heritage Foundation.

Below are the scholars who have delivered the address in recent years: 

2022 Professor David Dyzenhaus, University of Toronto, Canada
‘The Legal Experience of Injustice’ (register for this event)

2021 Professor Philip Pettit, Princeton University and Australian National University 
‘Can the People be Sovereign?' (watch the lecture)

2019 Professor Kimberley Brownlee, University of Warwick, UK
‘Punishment and precious emotions: a defence of a hope standard for punishment’

2018 Professor Hans Lindahl, Tilburg University, Netherlands
‘Inside and outside global law’

2017 Professor Seana Shiffrin, UCLA, USA
‘Democratic law’

2016 Professor Joseph Raz, Columbia University, USA
‘The Democratic deficit’

2015 Professor Scott Shapiro, Yale University, USA
‘The End of War: How the most reviled treaty of all time changed the world’

2014 Professor Frederick Schauer, University of Virginia, USA
'Do people obey the law?’

2013 Professor Brian Leiter, University of Chicago, USA
'The case against free speech' 

2012 Professor Ran Hirschl, University of Toronto, Canada
'Across the seven seas of constitutional law and religion'

2011 Professor Leslie Green, University of Oxford, UK
'A democratic constitution: The basics'

2010 Professor Nicola Lacey, All Souls College, University of Oxford, UK 
'Could he forgive her? Gender, agency and women's criminality in 19th-Century English law and literature'

2009 Professor Martti Koskenniemi, University of Helsinki, Finland
'International law and state power: Historical reflections'

2008 Professor Samantha Besson, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
'The authority of international law'

2007 Professor Brian Tamanaha, St Johns University, USA
'Understanding contemporary legal pluralism'

2006 Professor Jeremy Waldron, New York University, USA
'Conquest and circumstances: Can changing conditions legitimise the imposition of colonial authority?'

2005 Professor Ratna Kapur, Centre for Feminist Legal Research, New Delhi, India
'The dark side of human rights'

2004 Professor David Kennedy, Harvard Law School, USA
'Challenging expert rule: The politics of global governance'

2003 Professor Jack Balkin, Yale Law School, USA
'How rights change: Freedom of speech in a digital age'

2002 Professor Patricia Williams, Columbia University, USA
'Inlaws and outlaws: The fate of equality in unsettled times'

2001 Professor Upendra Baxi, Warwick University, UK
'Human rights as human flourishings: From Julius Stone to Amartya Sen and beyond'

2000 Professor William Twining, University College, London, UK
'The province of jurisprudence re-examined: Problems of generalisation in a global context'

The Julius Stone Institute of Jurisprudence at the University of Sydney is delighted to announce that the Dennis Leslie Mahoney Prize in Legal Theory for 2021, which is worth AUD50,000, has been won by Roger Cotterrell, Anniversary Professor of Legal Theory at Queen Mary University of London.

Professor Cotterrell’s entry – several recent papers and his book Sociological Jurisprudence: Juristic Thought and Social Inquiry, which was published by Routledge in 2018 – was judged to be the most impressive of many excellent entries by a committee that consisted of Justice Dennis Mahoney, Professor Helen Irving (University of Sydney), Professor Wojciech Sadurski (University of Sydney), Professor Margaret Thornton (Australian National University), and Dr Kevin Walton (University of Sydney). 

The judges were impressed by Professor Cotterrell’s conception of jurisprudence as a theoretical tool for helping “jurists” to maintain and promote the general well-being of law. They thought that it best advanced the sociological approach to legal theory that Julius Stone pioneered. The judges thank all entrants for submitting their work and congratulate Professor Cotterrell on his winning entry.

Meir Yarom, NYU School of Law, Guarini Institute for Global Legal Studies, New York, USA

  • Associate Professor Lisa Burton Crawford, UNSW, Sydney, Australia
  • Dr Gunoo Kim, Gwangju Institute of Science Technology, South Korea
  • Professor Claudio Michelon, University of Edinburgh, UK
The full impact of Julius Stone’s teaching is now being felt. Generations of his students, now in judicial and other positions, are reflecting every day his harmonious mixture of legal realism and firm dedication to legal principle.
The Hon. Justice Michael Kirby AC, CMG, High Court of Australia

Coel Kirkby

Director, Julius Stone Institute
  • +61 2 9351 0200