Dean’s Book Lauded as “Brilliant Contribution to Legal Theory”

In May 2005 the Michigan Law Review published its annual "Survey of Books Related to the Law," which included a review of a book by College of Law Dean Symeon C. Symeonides. In her review, Professor Louise Weinberg, holder of the Bates Chair in Law at the University of Texas, characterized Symeonides' book as a "brilliant contribution to legal theory, an impressive, original, one-of-a-kind book," as well as "engrossing" and "often magnetic, a page-turner."

Symeonides' book, The American Choice-of-Law Revolution in the Courts: Today and Tomorrow (Leiden/Boston 2003), is part of the prestigious, century-old series "Collected Courses" of the Hague Academy of International Law, where Symeonides lectured in 2002. The book's second edition, which Symeonides has just completed, will be the pilot of a new series called "Hague Academy Classics" to be launched in 2006.

In her 39-page review of this book, which discusses the development of American conflicts law in the last 50 years, Weinberg praised the author's "formidable erudition" and "characteristically evenhanded" treatment of this difficult subject. "No one else could have written this book," the reviewer noted, "[n]or could it have been written by anyone without Symeonides' intimate familiarity with current American conflicts cases . . . [and] European as well as American theory." The reviewer concluded: "This is not only a most original monograph, not only a major contribution to the literature, not only a fine course in conflict of laws, not only a treatise from which sophisticates and novices alike can learn much, not only an intellectual adventure, but quite simply a book one can very much enjoy reading."

In another review, written by Gene Shreve, the Richard S. Melvin Professor of Law at Indiana University, and published in The American Journal of Comparative Law (Vol. 52:4), Symeonides' text was characterized as a "lucid, cogent and stimulating" book that "provides a path out of the labyrinth" of contemporary conflicts law and theory. "If anyone can lead us out of this mess, it is Dean Symeonides," Shreve noted.

The reviewer praised Symeonides not only for "his path-breaking work on choice-of-law codification and his penetrating critiques of conflicts law and theory," but also for the fair-minded tone and substance of his scholarship. Shreve noted that Symeonides "has continuously demonstrated that exercise of a sharp, critical mind does not require antagonism, that one can present important and original work without condemning the work of others, [and] that theory and critique can be both intelligible and profound."