The Faculty of Law at the NOVA (New) University of Lisbon is usually known by its acronym FDUNL. It is the youngest and most advanced Portuguese provider of education in law. It was founded in 1996, under the initiative of Professor Diogo Freitas do Amaral, in order to challenge a rather conservative, traditional way of teaching and learning law in Portugal. FDUNL opened new disciplines (courses) and carried out a successful PhD seminar programme before the other faculties walked the same path. The professors teach in a more open and informal way, using various audio-visual media and analysing both theoretical issues and recent and relevant case-law. Graduates are capable of carrying out demanding assignments that require national and international legal expertise. The Faculty of Law interacts closely with the rest of society, providing both expert opinions and cooperating in community oriented programmes. Some practical matters are taught by experienced barristers and non legal subjects are lectured on by experts in their field.
The Faculty teaches three cycles (Bachelor, Master, PhD), according to the Bologna model. The first takes eight semesters, the second three or four and the third from eight up to ten. In all of them the students are prepared both in core, compulsory subjects and in rather a wide variety of optional courses.
In the academic year 2009/2010 the Faculty started teaching some courses in English in order to answer the growing demand by foreign students (International Criminal Law, Social Equality Law, International Relations and Health Law and Bioethics). Some seminars (European Master second semester courses, in cooperation with Coimbra) and theses supervision had of course already been carried out in English and will continue to be so.
Some of the main areas are Private Law (Contracts, Commercial law), Public Law (Constitutional, Administrative Law), European Law, Criminal Law (both national and International Criminal Law), Equality and Discrimination, Health and Bioethics, Copyright and Patents, and theoretical courses like Methods and Jurisprudence. International Relations, Macro and Micro Economics, Sociology, Anthropology, History and Criminology are some of the subjects taught as necessary fields of complementary academic expertise for future lawyers.
CEDIS (Centre for Research in Law and Society) is the main research centre at the Faculty. We host two centres of public (community) service which also carry out some teaching and research. RAL (Alternative Dispute Resolution) has been successfully conducting a programme of informal conflict resolution for ten years. ANTÍGONA was set up in May 2009 to address issues of discrimination, both at the level of academic research and teaching, and with a view to helping actual or potential victims. CPIC, the most recent unit, deals with copyright and patents legal issues, with the financial support of Microsoft.
There are ca 1000 law students at the New University of Lisbon. FDUNL is also hosting an ever growing number of international students, mainly owing to the Erasmus and the E.Ma Programmes (European Master in Human Rights and Democratisation, run by the European Inter-University Centre, EIUC, www.eiuc.org - a Universities European network; UNL has been a member since 2002).
At the NOVA Faculty of Law we are proud of our achievements and trust that the appeal of the education the Faculty offers will continue in the future. We do our best to continuously improve our teaching and research and hope to be able to honour our Charter of Principles that Professor Diogo Freitas do Amaral and his Colleagues promoted in 1997, just before the first courses started being taught.
We often use the Horatian/Kantian motto Sapere aude (‘dare to know') in our celebrations of the Law School's day, when we deliver the diplomas to our students. We wish and hope to make it a progressively accurate description of our endeavours at FDUNL.