A brief history of the Faculty of Law
The Faculty of Law is one of the oldest institutions of the University of Zagreb and the only one with continuity since its inception. The faculty has been gathering knowledge and experience for almost 250 years, and as the oldest and largest faculty of law in the country established itself as the leader in the improvement of legal education and practice in Croatia and a guardian and promoter of Croatian legal culture as part of the Central European legal tradition. As such, it is established in a wider European context as a centre of excellence with a recognizable identity and flourishing international cooperation. We are aware of the role that the faculty has played in the past and continues to play in the present, and we operate in the spirit of its rich tradition, placing an emphasis on further contribution to the creation of the Croatian legal system, establishment of the rule of law and bringing up new generations of lawyers on the best European legal traditions.
1776 – Establishment
The Faculty of Law was founded in 1776 in the course of a reform of the higher education system in the Habsburg Monarchy, when Maria Theresa established by a decree the Royal Academy of Sciences in Zagreb (Regia scientiarium academia Zagrabiensis) comprising three faculties: Faculty of Philosophy, Faculty of Theology and Faculty of Law (Facultas iuridica). The subjects taught at the Faculty of Law included the subjects from the former Policy and Cameralistics Study, founded in Varaždin in 1769 , which moved to Zagreb in 1772. Each faculty carried out two-year study programmes, but the Faculty of Theology and Law could only be enrolled in upon graduating from the Faculty of Philosophy. The first professors were chosen in a contest, and the choice was confirmed by the Queen. Classes began on 4 November 1776, which is celebrated still today as Faculty Day.
1819 – First textbooks published in Croatian
Although initially the teaching language was Latin, from the very beginning of the faculty’s work Croatian could also be used, and its usage gradually increased. In classes, Austrian and German university textbooks were initially used, only to be gradually replaced by textbooks written by the professors of the faculty. The first textbook published in Croatian was one on the history of civil law in 1819.
1850 – Royal Academy of Law (Regia academia iuris)
The Royal Academy of Law operated until 1850, when it was abolished as part of the restructuring of the education system throughout the Monarchy. With the abolition of this institution, the subjects taught at the former Faculty of Philosophy were transferred to the Principal Grammar School in Zagreb as part of its 7th- and 8th-form education, while the abolished two-year law school was replaced by the newly-founded three-year Royal Academy of Law (Regia academia iuris). It remained the only higher education institution in the Croatian territories until the establishment of the University in 1874. Although it also had elements of a scientific approach, the Academy basically carried out a professional study until 1868. In the same year, the Academy was reorganized into a four-year university study following the model of law studies at the University of Vienna, which also led the establishment of a university and an academic study of law.
1874 – Establishment of the University of Zagreb
The University of Zagreb was founded in 1874. Initially, it comprised only three faculties: Faculty of Philosophy (Mudroslovni), Faculty of Theology (Bogoslovni) and Faculty of Law and State (Pravoslovni i državoslovni), while the Faculty of Medicine was founded in 1919. In 1926, the Faculty of Law and State was renamed into the Faculty of Law (Pravni fakultet), the name it bears to this day.
1948 – From rigorous exams to lifelong learning
Until 1948, at the end of the study of law students were required to take rigorous exams (rigoroze) in order to gain the title of Doctor of Law and the license to perform professional tasks in the justice system. Since then, the doctoral degree is obtained by defending a doctoral dissertation. Postgraduate (master) studies were introduced at the faculty in 1958, and since then the system of postgraduate studies at the faculty has developed and expanded into several scientific and specialist programmes. The last decade has seen the introduction of numerous lifelong learning programmes.
1968 – Law, social work, and public administration and public finances
The Faculty of Law represented a single organizational unit until 1968, when it was merged with the College of Administration. Further, in 1983 the High Administrative School and the Inter-faculty Study of Social Work also became part of the faculty, so that a two-year study of administrative law and a four-year study of social work were also established. By a regulation of the Government of the Republic of Croatia in 1998 the three-year professional study of public administration was entrusted to the newly established Polytechnic of Social Studies, only to be merged again with the Faculty of Law in 2011. In 2013 it was reformed into a three-year undergraduate professional study, followed by a two-year specialist graduate study. In the academic year 1996/97 a two-year tax study was set up as a study for special state needs. It was abolished in 2001, only to be re-launched in 2005 at the Polytechnic of Social Studies and ultimately taken over by the Faculty of Law as a three-year professional study. This functional division is also reflected in the faculty’s structure, where along with the study of law, which represents the organizational backbone of the faculty, special organization units, the Social Work Study Centre and the Study Centre for Public Administration and Public Finance, were set up in 1995 and 2012, respectively.
2005 – The Bologna Reform
The study of law was carried out for a long time as a four-year programme and was based on the model of law studies in Austria, which followed the so-called Humboldt model, with a pronounced scientific basis. The most significant change in the organization of the study took place in 2005, when, with the Bologna Reform, the study of law was extended to five years as an integrated programme.