The Irish Jurist - Ireland's Oldest Law Review

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History of the Irish Jurist

Now in its fifth series, the Irish Jurist is Ireland ’s oldest and most distinguished legal periodical.  The title Irish Jurist (together with the Irish Jurist Reports) was first published in 1848. It appeared initially as a weekly journal, from 1848 to 1855, and thereafter twice monthly from 1855 to 1867. The journal was divided into two parts. The first contained articles on legal topics, rules and orders of the courts. The second consisted of law reports and a digest of cases decided by the courts in Ireland.    

As their names suggest, the second series, the New Irish Jurist Reports, which ran from 1867-1901, was confined to law reporting; whereas the short-lived third series, New Irish Jurist and Local Government Review, which ran from 1901-1904, was, in its review section, also a law journal in the conventional sense. The precursor to the current series – the fourth, appeared in 1935 as the Irish Jurist with Reports, once again combining the Jurist’s original role of legal periodical with that of law reporting. The fourth series ran from 1935-1965. It has been said that its principal achievement lay in providing an accessible forum for airing issues of concern to legal practitioners in Ireland .     

The current series was inaugurated under the editorship of the late Professor John Maurice Kelly in 1966. Professor of Roman Law and Jurisprudence at UCD, Professor Kelly was a leading member of a consortium that had acquired the Jurist Publishing Company, the owner of the title to the journal. Between 1966 and 1972, Professor Kelly transformed the Irish Jurist from a national practitioner’s journal into a scholarly journal of national and international importance. The journal’s longstanding law reporting function was abandoned in favour of two broad sections devoted to scholarly material on modern and historical jurisprudence, the latter modelled on the Zeitschrift der Savigny für Rechtsgesichte.  The revamped journal immediately began to attract contributions from leading scholars in Ireland and Britain and the principal civilian jurisdictions, and had acquired a significant international subscription list by the end of Professor Kelly’s tenure as editor.     

The late Professor Nial Osborough succeeded John Kelly as editor in 1972. A legal historian with a wide-ranging interest in contemporary legal developments, Professor Osborough consolidated the Jurist’s founding philosophy during the period of rapid expansion in academic legal education in the 1970s and 80s, publishing work on every department of Irish law as well as a string of important contributions on classical and comparative jurisprudence. During his long tenure, Professor Osborough edited twenty volumes of the Jurist, stepping down in 1994. Highlights of his editorship include his generous nurturing of young authors, many of whom went on to distinguished careers as legal writers and practitioners; and the publication of volumes xxv-xxvii as a Festschrift for John Kelly following his untimely death in 1991.

Professor Finbarr McAuley became editor in 1995. A strong believer in the Jurist’s original academic mission, Professor McAuley established a distinguished international Editorial Board reflective of the journal’s publishing history in the fields of modern and historical jurisprudence. The new Board provided the journal with a cadre of distinguished international referees, and acted as an important source of contributions from scholars outside Ireland, especially in the field of modern jurisprudence, and was instrumental in sourcing contributions. Professor McAuley also commenced the link with Round Hall Sweet & Maxwell, now Thomson Reuters, who continue to publish the Jurist for the Irish Jurist Publishing Company. Professor McAuley produced fourteen volumes of the journal, including a Festschrift for Professor Geoffrey Hand (volume xxxi). He relinquished the editorship in 2009.        

Professor Paul O’Connor took over as editor in 2009.

The Irish Jurist  is owned by the The Irish Jurist Designated Activity Company, and is published by Thomson Reuters.