The European Society for Empirical Legal Studies (ESELS) convened its highly successful 2023 Annual Conference, bringing together over a hundred participants from across the globe in Warsaw, Poland. This two-day event was marked by a rich array of sessions and activities, fostering intellectual exchange and interdisciplinary collaboration specifically interested for a European audience.
The inaugural day of the conference began with a warm welcome from Jessie Pool, ESELS President, and the Organizing Committee, represented by Jaroslaw Beldowski. Their opening remarks underscored the vital role of interdisciplinary collaboration and knowledgesharing in tackling contemporary challenges that European empirical legal scholars are dealing with. Subsequently, Professor Krzysztof Kozlowski, Vice-Rector of the Warsaw School of Economics, inaugurated the conference, reaffirming the institution’s dedication to academic excellence.
Keynote by Professor Jennifer Robbenolt
Next up was a compelling keynote address by Professor Jennifer Robbenolt, the Alice Curtis Campbell Professor of Law and Psychology at the Illinois College of Law. In her lecture titled “Apologies, Remorse, and Amends: Empirical Legal Studies Across Domains and Disciplines,” Professor Robbenolt explored the significance of apologies within legal contexts and gave valuable insights in how apologies are nowadays applied in various different settings around the world with different purposes and motivations.
The conference then transitioned into panel sessions, where scholars engaged in dynamic discussions spanning various disciplines. These sessions facilitated the exchange of ideas and encouraged interdisciplinary perspectives on a wide spectrum of topics ranging from insolvency law to criminal law and methodological perspectives. Following the panels, participants convened for a networking lunch, fostering further discussions and collaborations on how to advance empirical legal knowledge.
In the afternoon, ESELS members gathered for the General Assembly, where they contributed their insights and recommendations for the future of the society. During the assembly, the 2023/2024 board was elected, consisting of Catrien Bijleveld (President), Jessie Pool (Past President), Urska Sadl (Future President), Mariia Domina (Board Member), and Pieter Desmet (Board Member). Sonja Bekker and Mattias Derlen were elected to the financial committee.
Round Table on Interdisciplinarity
The day concluded with a round table on interdisciplinarity, moderated by Bijleveld and Beldowski. Panelists Libor Dusek, Rita Gsenger, and Kyra Wigard shared their perspectives on the value and challenges of interdisciplinarity, both in teaching and research. The evening concluded with a dinner featuring some typical Polish specialties.
After a good night of sleep, the second day of the conference commenced with another set of engaging panel sessions, providing participants with ample opportunities to explore interdisciplinary topics of interest.
Keynote by Professor Adam Bodnar
The second keynote address was delivered by Professor Adam Bodnar, Dean of the Faculty of Law at SWPS University, Poland, and former Ombudsman of Poland. His lecture, titled “Rule of Law Crisis in Poland and Its Impact on Legal Safety of Business and Citizens,” sparked stimulating discussions among attendees and touched upon some very relevant current debates in Poland.
Networking Lunch and Panel Sessions
Following the morning sessions, attendees enjoyed another networking lunch, further strengthening the connections formed during the conference. The afternoon featured two additional rounds of stimulating panel sessions, offering participants the chance to delve into a diverse range of subjects and engage in fruitful dialogues for example on how to teach methods to lawyers.
Closing Ceremony: European Journal of Empirical Legal Studies and ESELS 2024 Conference in Elche, Alicante
The closing ceremony chaired by Catrien Bijleveld, incoming President of ESELS, included the exciting announcement by Johan Lindholm of the European Journal of Empirical Legal Studies. Additionally, Elena Beatriz Fernández Castejón revealed that the 2024 ESELS conference will be held in Elche, Alicante on June 20 and 21.
In conclusion, the ESELS Annual Conference 2023 was an overwhelming success, promoting interdisciplinary dialogue, knowledge-exchange, and networking among scholars and professionals from around the world. The conference exemplified the importance of European collaboration in advancing empirical legal research and addressing pressing challenges. Expectations are high for the 2024 conference in Elche, where we hope to witness even more outstanding contributions from our European ELS community.