oa Fundamina : A Journal of Legal History - Ulric Huber's programme for legal education - what lessons for today?

Volume 17, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1021-545X
  • E-ISSN: 2411-7870



The teaching of law in South Africa today faces daunting challenges. One of these is the large number of underprepared students who lack skill in reading, writing and speaking English. Even after completing their studies, many law graduates lack the ability to apply legal principles and to solve problems. This parlous state of affairs is largely the result of government's deplorable policy decision to sacrifice the humanities on the altar of science and technology. The term "humanities" is taken to embrace the classics (Greek and, in particular, Latin), literature, ethics, classical philosophy and Roman law. Given the vital importance of the humanities at tertiary level, I argue that there is much we can learn from the educational ideas of the great seventeenth-century jurist Ulric Huber. There are striking similarities between the law students of Huber's time and those of our own age. Particularly students who seek a career in litigation need instruction in the humanities. Huber also insists on skill in public speaking and he regards the ongoing study of ethics as an essential feature of law studies, a feature of particular relevance to our modern conditions. In conclusion, I argue that the adoption of a law curriculum on the lines proposed by Huber is capable of producing a significant improvement in the literacy, self-confidence and competence of our modern law graduates.

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