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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: 

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 is delighted to announce that the Dennis Leslie Mahoney Prize in Legal Theory for 2016 has been awarded to Martin Krygier, Gordon Samuels Professor of Law and Social Theory at the University of New South Wales.

Professor Krygier’s submission – several of his articles from the last five years on the rule of law and his book Philip Selznick: Ideals in the World, which was published by Stanford University Press in 2012 – was judged to be the most impressive of many excellent entries. The judging committee consisted of Justice Mahoney, Professor Jonathan Crowe (Bond University), Associate Professor Arlie Loughnan (University of Sydney), Dr Michael Sevel (University of Sydney) and Dr Kevin Walton (University of Sydney). Professor Krygier’s sympathetic account of Selznick’s way of thinking and his own thinking about the rule of law in that way were thought by the committee to further substantially the sociological approach to jurisprudence that Julius Stone pioneered.

About the prize

The prize is funded by a generous gift from the Honourable Dennis Mahoney QC AO, former President of the New South Wales Court of Appeal. Throughout his life and especially in his seminal work of 1946, The Province and Function of Law, the late Julius Stone, rather than taking a purely historical or conceptual approach to law, sought to understand it according to the operation and, moreover, the needs of particular societies. Every five years, $50,000 is awarded to the author or authors of the entry that has best advanced Stone’s sociological and justice-oriented approach to jurisprudence.

Read the prize terms and conditions.  

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