Past Events & News

A selection of past events & news from the Robbins Collection


Taming New Mexico

On May 18th, PBS New Mexico will premiere a film documenting the origins of New Mexico’s present-day federal court system, starting with the history of Spanish-Mexican rule of law.

The film will include some images from Robbins Collection holdings, including Recopilación de leyes de los reynos de las Indias (1681).

For more information about Spanish Law in America, please see our digital exhibit on California’s Legal Heritage:

View this digital exhibition

Workshop on “Customary Law Today”

The Robbins Collection and the Institut des Usages (IDU) have organized a workshop for May 18 and 19 to be held in Montpellier, France, moderated by Professors Laurent Mayali and Pierre Mousseron.

Topics to be discussed include private law, civil procedure, philosophy of law, constitutional law, business law, and international law.

Participants will include faculty members from Berkeley School of Law, the University of Montpellier School of Law, and other academic institutions. 

Visiting Researcher Workshops

The Robbins Collection hosts monthly workshops for Berkeley Law Visiting Researchers throughout the academic year. These workshops allow participants to present their scholarly research and receive extensive feedback on their work in a small-group setting.

If you are interested in presenting your work or attending a workshop, please contact Andrea Quinn at

Robbins Collection and I-School Collaborative Projectms_trumpet_crop2

Jordan Shedlock, recent graduate of the I-School’s Master of Information Management and Systems (MIMS) program, has been working on using digital technologies to “improve access to and create excitement around” medieval manuscripts held by the Robbins Collection. 

Shedlock’s goal is to create a web interface that will serve as an online destination for the Robbins Collection and allow users to explore its manuscripts. Stay tuned for updates on the project’s launch. 

Research Resources

The Robbins Collection will introduce, and continue to add to, a new set of resources for researchers and scholars on our website. These “Resources for Research” will include entries from legal dictionaries and indices, digitized images of Robbins documents and manuscripts, and introductory materials on different legal history topics. 

To see the resources that are currently available, click here:
Resources for Research

Festschrift for Professor R. H. Helmholz

The Robbins Collection is pleased to announce the publication of Studies in Canon Law and Common Law in Honor of R. H. Helmholz, edited by Troy L. Harris. 





Public Talk

Mohammad Fadel, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Toronto,  presented “Is Islamic Law ‘Religious’ Law?” on April 4th at 5:00 PM in Boalt 170.
The talk was sponsored by the Robbins Collection and organized by Berkeley School of Law’s Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Law

Lecture: Medieval Order versus Individualism

Professor Emanuele Conte, from Roma Tre University, spoke at the Legal Studies Program on February 27th about the “Enduring Fascination of German Constitutional History.”

Lecture: Trials in the Middle Ages

Professor Beatrice Pasciuta, from the Università degli Studi di Palermo, spoke at the Legal Studies Program on February 24th about her research on trials in the Middle Ages.

Presentation on International Human Rights 

Berkeley Law Visiting Researcher, Pablo Sánchez-Molina, presented his work on international human rights at the Visiting Researcher Workshop on Thursday, February 16th. 

The Robbins Collection “Jewish Thought in America Today” Lecture

Arnold Eisen, Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, spoke on “JewisArnold Eisenh Thought in America Today” on October 27, 2016, at the annual Robbins Collection Lecture.

Chancellor Eisen is one of the world’s foremost authorities on American Judaism. He has written several books and articles on a range of topics, including Jewish community and scholarship. Chancellor Eisen’s lecture was sponsored by the Robbins Collection and the Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies.

Current Legal Issues in Taiwan and the United States

ntu_redgoldOn October 14, 2016, the Robbins Collection was pleased to host a one-day conference on topics that included corporate law and insider trading, courts in civil disputes and multidistrict litigation, and surrogate decision-making regimes and drug price regulation.

Workshop participants included Professors from National Taiwan University’s College of Law, Hofstra University School of Law, Berkeley School of Law as well as a High Court Judge from the Taiwan Intellectual Property Court. 

Article on Justice and Politics in Colombia

Robbins Collection Post-Doctoral Fellow on the Legacy of Civil Law in Latin America, Pablo Echeverri, recently published an online commentary in eltiempo:  

De la justicia, la política y la politiquería

Jews and Judaism in France Today

On April 13, 2015, Grand Rabbin d’Aix en Provence, Daniel Dahan, spoke about the current status of Jews and Judaism in France. The lecture was sponsored by the Robbins Collection and the Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies. Rabbi Dahan is the author of Agounot: Les Femmes Entravées.

Workshop on Religious Law

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On February 21, 2014, the Robbins Collection hosted a one-day workshop at Berkeley School of Law titled “Implementing Religious Law in Contemporary Nation-States: Definitions and Challenges.” Berkeley School of Law’s Acting Dean, Gillian Lester, welcomed the group, which included practicing attorneys and scholars with expertise in Jewish, Catholic, and Islamic legal traditions.

The workshop, which was organized and moderated by Robbins Collection Director Laurent Mayali and Robbins Postdoctoral Fellow, Lena Salaymeh, provided a forum for international legal experts and scholars to present their papers and debate a variety of important topics at the intersection of law and religion. Scholars from the University of Florida, University of Toronto, Villanova University, Indiana University, University of London (Birkbeck), Kramer Levin LLP, Hebrew University, Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Utah, and Saint Joseph University (Beirut) offered competing viewpoints on the role of the state in implementing “religious laws,” and they discussed case studies from Israel, the Arab world, and the United States.

Legal Commentaries Exhibit

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On January 30, 2014, the Robbins Collection unveiled a new, three-day exhibit showcasing legal commentaries on, each, canon law, Jewish law, and Islamic law.  

Among the eye-catching and significant works displayed from the Robbins Collection of rare books were Clementinae constitutions, Kitāb al-wiqāyah, and Talmud Bavli

2012 Robbins Collection Lecture

event poster


The 2012-2013 Robbins Collection Lecture Cebter in Jewish Law and Thought, co-sponsored with Berkeley Law’s Institute for Jewish Law and Israeli Law, Economy, and Society, took place on Monday, November 26, 2012.

Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks presented “The Future of Judaism.” 



Legal Heterodoxy in Islamic and Jewish History: Late Antique and Medieval Transformations

event posterApril 23-24, 2012

This two day symposium examined the place of multiple and dissenting legal opinions in Jewish and Islamic legal history, focusing on the late antique and medieval periods (from approximately 300 to 1300 CE) in the Near East. Recognizing that the story of Jewish law and the story of Islamic law cannot be told in isolation, these panels explored the transformation of legal systems within a comparative framework in order to more clearly distinguish between genuine parallels and unique divergences.

The significance of this symposium was in its emphasis on a deeper awareness of the cross-pollination and shared relationships that Jewish and Islamic legal traditions perpetuate.

Islamic Law and Society Spring 2011 Lecture Series

The Robbins Collection presented three lectures as part of its annual Islamic Law and Society lecture series. Topics included the representation of Muslims emerging from the Park 51 / “Ground Zero mosque” controversy, personal status law in Egypt’s Coptic Christian community, and constitutionalism and democratic governance in Islamic jurisprudence in Iran. This lecture series was co-sponsored with the Berkeley Journal of Middle Eastern & Islamic Law (JMEIL).

Dalhuisen gift to the Robbins Collection

The Robbins Collection at the School of Law received a generous donation of rare books from a distinguished legal scholar to add to its permanent collection. The gift comprises nearly 80 volumes, most of them dating from the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries, from the collection of Professor J. E. Scholtens (1902-1991) and donated by his daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth J. S. Scholtens Dalhuisen. Mrs. Dalhuisen shares a long connection to the School of Law with her husband, Professor Jan Dalhuisen, an expert in International Commercial, Financial, Insolvency and Arbitration Law who received an LL.M. degree from Boalt in 1967 and has returned frequently as a Visiting Professor.

Professor Scholtens earned a doctorate in law in Amsterdam and taught Roman-Dutch law at Utrecht from 1946-1949. In 1949 he accepted the chair in Roman-Dutch law at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he taught until 1972. Centering on the subject of Professor Scholtens’s life work, the volumes donated to the Robbins Collection in his honor are a wonderful complement to the Collection’s existing holdings in Roman-Dutch jurisprudence.

The development of the Roman-Dutch legal tradition was an important stepping stone in the early modern evolution of Western civil law systems from medieval Roman law scholarship. Influenced by French Humanism and the post-Reformation political and cultural transformation of Europe, Roman-Dutch law became foundational not only to modern legal practice in the Netherlands and its neighbors but, through Dutch colonial influence, to South Africa as well. For more about the Roman-Dutch legal tradition, please see our exhibit page.

Water Rights and Governance in Sub-Saharan Africa

Roundtable Meeting
Sponsored by the Robbins Collection and the Institute for Global Challenges and the Law
UC Berkeley School of Law

On March 13, 2008, the Robbins Collection and the Institute for Global Challenges and the Law welcomed experts from Senegal and France to a roundtable meeting on water rights and governance in sub-Saharan Africa. After opening remarks from Dean Edley and Professor and Robbins Collection Director Laurent Mayali, Professors Mamadou Badji, Moustapha Ngaidé, and Samba Thiam from Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, and Professor Bernard Durand from Université Montpellier I, Montpellier, offered perspectives on legal tradition and current models of water rights in Senegal, with Boalt student Hana Ivanhoe presenting additional analysis of international norms.

Roundtable discussion followed, with Boalt professors Joseph Sax, Howard Shelanski, Rick Frank and Cymie Payne of the California Center for Environmental Law and Policy, and Dan McGrath, Executive Director of the Berkeley Institute of the Environment, contributing to a broader examination of current challenges in global water rights governance. This first encounter paves the way for future research and collaboration on legal and policy issues in sub-Saharan Africa as part of Boalt’s ongoing efforts to examine global issues in comparative and interdisciplinary contexts.

Martin Guerre working group

January 2005: The Robbins Collection co-sponsored a working group for K–12 teachers with UC’s Office of Resources for International and Area Studies (ORIAS), the Bay Area Global Education Program (BAGEP) at the World Affairs Council of Northern California. This year’s ORIAS working group series was entitled Constructing Identities: Comparative Short Fiction From the Arab World, East Asia and Western Europe, and as part of this series, Julianne Gilland (Robbins Collection) and Michele Delattre (ORIAS) organized a one-day workshop at Boalt Hall in January.

The workshop focused on the Martin Guerre trial, a 16th-century case of identity theft in France that has inspired plays, fiction, films and legal commentaries for over 500 years. In a special session at the Robbins Collection, Bay Area K-12 teachers participated in a one-day meeting to discuss the case and the issues of law, identity, and community that it brought together, using Natalie Zemon Davis’s historical reconstruction, The Return of Martin Guerre.

During the session, the group also had an opportunity to see an original edition of Judge Jean de Coras’s legal commentary on the trial and examine other relevant 17th-century legal texts from the Robbins Collection’s holdings. The event was a great opportunity for the teachers to get some hands-on experience with using archival documents in a classroom setting and to think in new ways about how we and our students consider the role of law in our society.