Prof. Dr. Yoram Shachar

Radzyner School of Law, Interdisciplinary Centre Herzliya

Curriculum VitaeYoram Shachar

Prof. Dr. Yoram Shachar studied law in Tel Aviv and Oxford and obtained his doctoral degree in Oxford in 1976 with a thesis on “Containers in the Law of Carriage of Goods”. Following research stays in Philadelphia and Freiburg, Prof. Shachar became director of the Institute of Criminology and Criminal Law at the University of Tel Aviv in 1985, which he led up to 1988. Next to professorships at the faculties of law in Tel Aviv (until 1992) and the Hebrew University (1991-1996), Prof. Shachar was dean of the Radzyner School of Law (Herzliya, Israel) from 1996 to 1998. Furthermore, guest professorships and fellowships led him, inter alia, to the University of Southern California in Los Angeles (Ben-Gurion Visiting Professor of Law), Heidelberg (Max Planck Institute for Public and International Law), as well as the University of California, Berkeley (2000 and 2004).

Prof. Dr. Yoram Shachar was Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities “Law as Culture” in Bonn from April to September 2011.


Research project

Law’s Presence: A Comparative Study of Court Scenes in Civil and Common Law Cultures

The different cultural images of law reflect both the realities of legal forms and the role of law in different societies. While lively court scenes figure prominently in both high and popular culture (Literature, Theatre, Cinema and Television) in Anglo-American societies, they seem to be almost absent from European culture. In an earlier study I have described the differences and explained them on the basis of the structural differences in legal process, but further surmised that the structures themselves reflect some deeper differences in the perceived role of law. Concentrating on America, Germany and Israel, I have claimed that court scenes are only embedded in cultural representations where law itself retains a childish battle-like form intended to explore and decide broad moral issues by popular discourse. Where law has been entrusted to professional bureaucracies it has left little impact on general culture.

My goal in the present study would be to update these findings. It is my impression that all three cultures have undergone some rapid changes in the last decade. Court scenes that have almost dominated American culture for more than a hundred years have reached an apex in the 1990’s and have now almost disappeared from cinema, theater and television. Heroic legal scenes have abruptly given way to other scenes and to a first onslaught of realistic non-heroism. Israel (and perhaps Germany) seems to have gone in the opposite direction. Courts and lawyers have made inroads into the writings of leading novelists and into popular culture (mainly popular literature and television). If I am correct in my former assumptions, these changes may reflect some interesting shifts in communal values.

I further intend to explore the links between law and culture in Jewish tradition. I hypothesize that, as in modern Europe, Jewish law has always been academic and professional. Popular court scenes have therefore been absent from both folklore and literary sources. Occasional court scenes (e.g. Solomon’s Judgment) entered Jewish story-telling, but they depicted the pragmatic problem-solving powers of secular rulers rather than substantive moral discourse.


Publications (selected)

  • (1978-1979) Tel Aviv University Studies in Law, Volume 4 Editor
  • Y. Shachar, A. Marmor, (1985) Sources in Criminal Law (3 Vols., Hebrew)
  • A. Kirschenbaum, Y. Shachar, E. Ohlbaum, (1986, 1988) Sources in Comparative Criminal Law (English)
  • Ha’Sanegor (Journal of Israel Public Defender Office), Advisory Board, 1998
  • Jeffersom Goes East: The American Origins of the American Declaration of Independence, Theoretical Inquiries in Law 589 (2009)
  • When Faust Takes A lawyer: On the Relations Between Law and Culture, Din U’Devarim 147 (2007)
  • Criminal Law and Culture in Israel, Plilim (Israel Journal of Criminal Law) 77 (1998) 


Research interests

  • Criminal Law
  • Law and Culture
  • Legal history