Founded in June 1913 on the initiative of Afonso Costa, President of the 5th Government of the Republic, the University of Lisbon School of Law opened its doors in December of that year, with a small body of professors – seven Ph.D. and undergraduate degree holders – and a school attendance of a few dozen students. Lacking its own premises, it held classes in the building of the former Polytechnic, after which it was moved to the Palácio dos Viscondes de Valmor, located in Campo dos Mártires da Pátria, where it remained until 1958. Its national and international prestige was strengthened during this period, as a result of four distinct influences, namely: the recruitment of teaching staff through public examinations; the transfer of scholars from the Faculty of Law of Coimbra; the granting of honoris causa degrees to renowned foreigners; and the linking of its students to the country’s political, social and cultural life.
In 1958, it moved its headquarters to the campus of Cidade Universitária where it remains today, housed in its own building, designed by the architect Pardal Monteiro. Its interior decoration involved great artists from that era, including Almada Negreiros, Lino António, Barata Feyo and António Duarte. In the late 1990s, construction began on a new building attached to the original, which modernised the school and provided it with a library, a computer-equipped auditorium and a moot court room. Throughout the gardens and halls of this new configuration, designed by architects Rui Barreiros Duarte and Ana Paula Pinheiro, one can contemplate works of art – ceramics, painting, sculpture, engraving – made by professors and students of the Faculty of Fine Arts of Lisbon, under a unique agreement signed between the two institutions. Andreas Stocklein, Annamarie Jankovics and Pedro Saraiva are certainly names to be remembered.
As a legal person under Public Law, with its own cultural, scientific and educational autonomy, the University of Lisbon School of Law is fundamentally a space of freedom: the freedom to educate, research, pass on and disseminate the culture of law.
It is also, however, a School made by, and for, the people. It is no surprise that its chairs have been filled by so many outstanding figures of Portuguese life. These include three Presidents of the Republic (António Ramalho Eanes, Mário Soares and Jorge Sampaio) and eight Heads of Government (Afonso Costa, Marcello Caetano, Adelino da Palma Carlos, Francisco Sá Carneiro, Francisco Pinto Balsemão, Mário Soares, José Manuel Durão Barroso and Pedro Santana Lopes).
Also worthy of mention are prominent figures from the arts, literature, politics and society, a far from exhaustive list that includes Florbela Espanca, Hernâni Cidade, Damião Peres, Vieira de Almeida, Azeredo Perdigão, Bustorff Silva, Augusto Abelaira, António Pedro, Tomaz de Figueiredo, Álvaro Cunhal, Domingos Monteiro, Mário Beirão, António Ferro, Ruy Belo, Manuel Heleno, João Ameal, José Hermano Saraiva, Francisco de Gama Caeiro, Joaquim Paço d’Arcos, Pedro Homem de Mello, Thomaz Ribeiro Collaço, João Cabral do Nascimento, António dos Reis Rodrigues, Luís Sttau Monteiro, José Rodrigues Miguéis, João de Castro Osório, António Alçada Baptista, Alberto Franco Nogueira, Urbano Tavares Rodrigues, José Gomes Ferreira, Vasco Graça Moura and Duarte Ivo Cruz.
As it celebrates its centennial history, the School maintains cooperation agreements with Brazil, China and the United States of America, and provides Master’s and Ph.D. programmes in several countries in which Portuguese is the official language – Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe and East Timor. The internationalisation of study programmes and teaching is also supported by the number of foreign professors that visit the school and the number of its students who study abroad in other universities and academies around the world. If the «global village» phenomenon identified by McLuhan in the 20th century has now become an irreversible reality, the School of Law neither fears nor despises it. Rather, it sees it as the foundation for its future and progress, the hallmark of its research and teaching standards.