The Journal Lakimies in Finnish Legal History

Author:Pia Letto-Vanamo
Position:Prof. dr. jur. University of Helsinki

1. Introduction - 2. Lakimies-journal of a modern profession - 3. Practical journal in Finnish - 4. Academic Lakimies - 5. A journal of changes and tradition

1. Introduction

Joachim Rückert has characterised legal journals as a seismography of legal history: they measure the legal pulse and note the legal Zeitgeist1. From the history of legal journals, one can learn about changes in legal culture, changes in the history of legal science, and changes in the legal profession. This is especially true for a small country with a small number of legal journals, such as one of the Baltic or Nordic countries.

The following pages discuss the history of the Finnish legal journal Lakimies. 2 The character of its 108-year history will be examined through a survey of the topics of articles published in the journal and of their authorship. At the same time, thematic changes and changes among contributors will be analysed in the context of the general history of the legal profession and development of legal scholarship in Finland.

2. Lakimies-journal of a modern profession

It is interesting to note that in 1903, when Lakimies was founded, the journal was named lakimies ('the jurist', in direct English translation 'law man')-not designated as a legal journal or review. Actually, the term 'journal', like German Zeitschrift or Swedish tidskrift, was quite new until the 1890s. Before this, it was commonplace to use titles such as Acta, Archiv, or Blätter. However, Lakimies was a publication by one jurist (lakimies) for other jurists. Because of the political and legal circumstances in the Grand Duchy of Finland (1809-1917 as an autonomous part of the Russian Empire), the only way to get a journal published was to categorise it as a publication by a private person. Thus, Lakimies became the journal of Allan Serlachius, professor of criminal law at the University of Helsinki, whose aim was to establish a juridical journal-practical, not academic.

In spite of its founding history, Lakimies represented a new type of publicity-as did many other journals founded in the late 19th century and the early 20th century. It was a link between a learned society and the public. The journal was also a symbol of general professionalisation, of the expansion of legal education, and of the increase in the number of jurists. In 1879, there were only 677 jurists in Finland, but by the 1910s their number had doubled. At the same time, the number of law professors increased, as did that of doctoral dissertations in law. However, Lakimies was still a journal for 'law-men': as late as 1932, only one per cent (16 individuals in total) of Finnish jurists were women. Thus, the history of Lakimies also reflects changes in the position and prestige of female (academic) jurists in the country.

3. Practical journal in Finnish

In the second half of the 19th century, the university became socially more open. At the same time, it changed linguistically. In the 1870s, only 10 per cent of university students were Finnish-speaking, but by the first years of the 20th century some 60 per cent of students spoke Finnish as their first language. A similar trend could be seen among law students, which also had an impact among civil servants, most of whom were trained in law.

Texts in legal science were seldom written in Finnish, however. Finnish legal vocabulary was deficient, and future legal professionals, who should be able to, for example, write court records in Finnish, were trained in Swedish. It was language that also caused the institutional separation out of legal...

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