A Brief History of the Bernstein Lecture

November 9, 2007Duke Law News

Tuesday, November 13 marks the sixth annual Herbert L. Bernstein Memorial Lecture in International and Comparative Law, “Desperately Seeking Subsidiarity: Danish Private Law in Scandinavian, European & Global Context”, presented by Professor Joseph Lookofsky of Copenhagen University. But who was the scholar who inspired this important lecture series?

Herbert L. Bernstein was a member of the Duke Law faculty from 1984 until his death in 2001. Professor Bernstein’s instruction and scholarship concentrated upon contracts, conflict of laws and comparative law, as well as international economic integration. He taught the European Union Law class at Duke, a subject particularly close to his heart: during the early years of the European Community/European Union, he was involved in the litigation of major cases in the European Court of Justice. For several years, he also served as the Faculty Director of the Law School's Summer Institute of Transnational Law in Brussels.

Professor Bernstein was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1930. Following World War II, he studied and practiced law in Hamburg, and was elected to the prestigious Max-Planck Institute for Foreign and Private International Law. While in private practice, Professor Bernstein continued his studies at the University of Hamburg, where he earned a doctorate in law magna cum laude. He came to the United States in 1962 to study at the University of Michigan, where he obtained his J.D. degree magna cum laude. Before joining the Duke Law School, he taught at University of California at Berkeley, the University of Hamburg in Germany, and the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom.

Professor Bernstein published frequently in both German and English. His bibliography included the book Understanding the CISG in Europe (1997) (co-authored with Joseph Lookofsky, presenter of the 2007 lecture). In summer 2003, Professor Bernstein’s colleagues honored his scholarship with a symposium, published as a special issue of the Duke Journal of Comparative and International Law.

View the past five Bernstein Memorial Lectures in RealPlayer