The Summer University for Continental Law is focused on preparing students or legal professionals during a three week programme consisting of trainings, courses, conferences, and visits. The courses are offered in English and French, depending on the preference of the attendees. At the end of the programme, students are required to attend the final exam session.
Mircea Dan Bob, assistant professor at the Faculty of Law of Babeș-Bolyai University, and a member of the International Scientific Council of the Foundation of Continental Law, is in charge with selecting the applications of Romanian students for the Summer University for Continental Law. The number and the quality of the applications seem to have surprised him this year, as himself confessed. As a consequence, he added, deciding who would participate was quite a difficult task. Professor Bob was also invited to the Summer University, in order to teach the Introduction to Romanist Law Systems course.
Professor Bob pointed out that applying for a summer school is highly recommended for any student. ‘Attending summer schools and summer universities is very important for at least two reasons: firstly, because it broadens your horizons, and, secondly, because you are doing something useful from a professional and personal point of view during your summer holiday. While I was traveling abroad to participate in international congresses, for research purposes or as a visiting professor, I noticed how important it is to see how other people teach and how they study. Furthermore, to understand that they are not necessarily smarter or more hard-working, but sometimes they may have better life conditions or more resources for their studies. This way, you get to be more open minded: you realise that things are different. Staying only in your home country might distort and limit your perception on the surrounding world. The second reason is related to being active even during the summer holidays, which is very necessary, in my opinion. I believe it is preferable to go to a place where you can combine acquiring knowledge with having fun, which is more useful than staying at home, laying in the sun or spending your time in night clubs. For a law student, the holiday time must consist especially in relaxation, but an active relaxation – a double standard easy to reach by a well organized summer school.’
In order to have a thorough presentation of the Paris Summer University, Lawyr.it has also invited four Romanian students who have participated in this summer school to share their experience. Lavinia Ghenț, Bogdan Prodișteanu, Ștefan Socol, and Sebastian Telecan, are all in the senior year at the Faculty of Law from Babeș-Bolyai University, and this was the first time they participated at a summer university.
Why have they chosen the Summer University for Continental Law?
There are many reasons for applying to this summer school, probably the most important ones being the types of courses, the location, and the people involved in the programme.
Lavinia Ghenț explained that the first thing which drew her attention to this summer school was its location, the beautiful city of Paris. ‘I have chosen this summer school especially for the city and its very rich culture. I was also curious to find out more about the French legal system, which has influenced many other legal systems over the time, including the Romanian one. Furthermore, I have had the possibility to study the subjects in French, which has given me the chance to improve my French language skills. All these added to the many enthusiastic recommendations from colleagues who had previously participated at the Summer University’.
For Sebastian Telecan, one of the reasons in choosing this summer school is the fact that it is mostly focused on private law, his main area of interest. ‘The Foundation for Continental Law offered me the chance to reflect on some of my knowledge in the field of private law, from a comparative perspective. Another reason was the possibility to study in a different language than my mother tongue’, Sebastian said. He also added that, out of all the summer programmes that he had heard about, this one seemed one of the best, in terms of its structure, with complex and rigorously scheduled activities, comprising not only courses, but also conferences and visits to public institutions.
‘Of course, the reputation of the prestigious university of Pantheon-Assas of Paris 2, the chance to meet important professors, such as Michel Grimaldi, and the wide range of courses offered were very important in making this decision’ said Bogdan Prodișteanu. ‘However, I believe that participating in any summer school and the experience you gain with it are much more important than choosing a certain summer school’, he added.
Professor Mircea Dan Bob emphasized that it is a great opportunity for Romanian students to have the chance to study abroad, in the same way that important Romanian academic figures have done it some time ago. ‘Essentially, it is about traveling to the City of Lights, and participating in lectures in the same places where Aurelian Ionașcu, Traian Pop and most of the distinguished Romanian jurists have studied in the last two centuries.’
Ștefan Socol outlined the fact that there are some similarities between the Romanian teaching system and the teaching method used by the academic staff during this summer school. ‘We had to identify different legal issues, and then solve the problems, the same as we are taught in law school. However, the major difference lies in the elements of comparative law that we have learned, with regard to continental law issues. Additionally, the programme included an introduction to some principles of common law.’
Sebastian Telecan also noticed that the Romanian legal education he is familiar with is very much alike to the teaching approach of Paris Summer University. He emphasized that both of them use similar teaching methods and share some common aspects when it comes to evaluating students.
However, the international dimension of this summer school seems to set some differences. ‘The Paris Summer University is known for its unique teaching methods, as the staff involved in the academic activities comes from different countries and continents. For instance, there were professors from France, Italy, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Colombia, and the USA. Each of them had a different teaching style, combined with very solid knowledge of their legal system and a lot of practical experience as legal professionals’, Sebastian us.
Schedule and structure
In spite of the introduction, the Summer University for Continental Law is not only about private law. As all attendees have noticed, the variety of legal subjects makes this summer school a perfect way for preparing any skilled professional, no matter their area of interest, private or public law.
The programme consists of two core subjects: (1) The Civil Law Systems in a Comparative Perspective and (2) European and International Contract Law. Additionally, students were required to choose four other courses from the following subjects: (1) Settlement of International Disputes, (2) Intellectual property, (3) Family Law, (4) Public Contract, (5) Compared European Civil Liability Law.
‘In spite of the official name of this summer university, the subjects are very useful for any legal professional. The majority of the classes covered aspects of private law, but we also had some connected to public law, such as a subject on administrative law’, said Ștefan.
‘I think that the fact that this summer school is focused more on private law is not that relevant. Probably all participants, including myself, have chosen this summer school mostly for the unique experience, not only for a set of subjects’, said Bogdan.
Sebastian pointed out that the majority of the participants were actually legal practitioners of private law in their home countries. ‘I could say there have not been that many public law enthusiasts, even though there was a course of Public Contracts.’
Professor Mircea Dan Bob told us that the schedule of this summer school was very complex. ‘In the morning, the students attended the lectures, while some of the afternoons were dedicated to visiting the Chamber of Deputies, the Senate, the Supreme Court, or the Constitutional Council’, he said.
For sure, the fact that we are discussing about a prominent academic programme might suggest a certain degree of strictness. Nevertheless, the Paris Summer University is widely known for being a very friendly teaching environment. As an example, Bogdan Prodișteanu told us about professor Mauro Bussani, „whose friendly way of teaching has really made an impression on me. He has a great sense of humour, he knows how to insert humour into serious moments, in order to create a nice and relaxed atmosphere during classes.’
From our talks with the Romanian students, it seemed that the most popular courses among the participants were the Compared Civil Liability Law course and the Settlement of International Disputes course, with the Intellectual Property subject coming very close behind.
„The Comparative Civil Liability Law course was taught in a comparative manner. I liked the fact that it made me more aware of the issues we discussed during the second year of law school, in the Obligations classes. All these added to the analyse of tort liability, specific to common law, which offered us an intereting perspective of general principles of civil liability in the UK, USA or other states with similar legal systems’, Ștefan told us.
„I was a bit disappointed by the Contracts course, as I felt it was too theoretical and abstract. On the other side, I enjoyed the Intellectual property course and the subject on alternative ways of solving disputes. Moreover, I liked the Comparative Civil Liability Law course, which was excellently taught and raised some very interesting issues that need a solution’, said Bogdan.
When it comes to his favourite subjects, Sebastian listed the following as his favourites: Civil Law Systems in a comparative perspective, Comparative Civil Liability Law, International Disputes Resolution, and Intellectual Property. „Each of the professors who taught these subjects had a very positive and valuable impact on my experience during the summer school. Not only have I learned many new theoretical things from them, but they were also very kind to share their experiences with us.’
Unlike the boys, Lavinia mentioned the European and International Contract Law course as her favourite one, saying that the interactive way of teaching aroused her curiosity. ‘The debate on the reform of contract law in France got my attention. It was a very interesting course. We were given different tasks and we had to work in groups to complete them, which encouraged us to communicate.’
Each year, the Summer University of Continental Law brings together students from all around the world, which makes this international experience even more exciting. The group of students coming from Romania joined a community of students and young professionals from over fourty different countries!
Bogdan said that „this has been a very rich experience, as I have never had the chance to interact with such a diverse community before. The result: unique and amazing memories.’
Apart from the knowledge gained during the three week summer school, participants have made friends and exchanged thoughts about experiences from their academic background. Lavinia said it was really interesting to find out new things about legal systems from other countries, such as Senegal, Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Colombia, Venezuela, Russia. Lavinia also mentioned she made some friends during the Summer University and that she keeps in touch with them.
„During this summer school, we socialised with students or practitioners from other countries, we have learned how they study and how they prepare for exams’ Ștefan told Lawyr.it. He also added that he keeps in touch with some of the people he met during this summer programme.
After completing the programme, Ștefan realised he wanted to discover new things with regard to comparative law. Bogdan seemed very enthusiastic about the knowledge he gained during the courses, saying that it gave him a broader perspective regarding his future as a young legal professional. For Lavinia, the Summer University might be the beginning of another foreign academic experience, as she is now considering to apply for a master’s degree programme in France.