The Future of Sociology of Law in Estonia: Is There Hope?
There are two questions at the heart of this debate: first, does the sociology of law as a science have a future in Estonia and, secondly, can we fully understand and implement the opportunities provided by the sociology of law?
To develop this approach, I have borrowed the ideas put forward by Professor J. M. Balkin at a conference entitled: “Writing Across the Margins” held at Washington & Lee Law School on November 3, 1995 where he spoke about the opportunities of new sciences to take root and flourish. When we adopt Mr. Balkin’s theory and use his criteria to analyse the situation and opportunities in Estonia, we would come to the obvious conclusion that the sociology of law has a definite chance of flourishing and will provide Estonian lawyers with much needed social information. Another aspect which further emphasises the possibility of developments in Estonia, is that the Estonian education system, and in particular, legal education, is in transition. The whole education system is liberal, open and willing to take into account the best practices from the rest of the world what makes it easier to incorporate more social sciences into the legal sciences curriculum. If we fail to do this, the symbiosis between law and social sciences will remain forever marginal fashion trends. Wish to embrace and develop the quality of legal sociology in Estonia requires a change in society’s understanding about legal science and lawyers and start regarding them as technical specialists also in Estonia. It is also needed that more social science disciplines have to be incorporated into the legal studies curriculum. Such situation will give social sciences a better chance to be colonized by the legal science. It is time for the decision-makers in public and private universities to start asking themselves what their objective is in teaching students. Is the objective to enable the students to practice law in Estonia, or to be successful world-wide? For the author, the answer is clear – only the second option is viable and following that option opens a road to the development of sociology of law in Estonia.