History of Erasmus School of Law

Welcome to Erasmus School of Law, the faculty that has long been committed to training the lawyers and criminologists of the future. Erasmus School of Law has a rich history. It began in 1963, the year in which the law school of the Nederlandsche Handel-Hoogeschool - the predecessor of Erasmus University Rotterdam - was founded by Piet Sanders.

At its foundation, the faculty characterised itself as a legal learning environment where, more than traditional law faculties, it sought dialogue with social sciences such as economics and sociology. In the 1960s and 1970s, the law school grew into a distinguished institute for research and education with a strong emphasis on international and European law. In 1973, the name of the faculty was changed to the School of Law of Erasmus University Rotterdam. During the same period, the number of academic staff and students and their participation in education grew significantly. The seed for a reputation as a leading legal institution was planted.

Over the years, the School of Law developed into a characteristic institute: a place for Rotterdam education and research with an eye for European law and all its facets.

Foto van Piet Sanders

Piet Sanders: the founding father of Erasmus School of Law

Piet Sanders made a significant contribution to academia and the law school as we know it today. In 1959, Sanders was appointed Professor. He was given the explicit task of founding a new law school. And so it happened: he stood at the new school of law cradle from 1963 to 1967. Even after his retirement in 1981, Sanders’ vision still resonated within the faculty. Sanders endorsed the importance of international law and introduced exciting interdisciplinary programmes. He also encouraged students and lecturers to think about the broader social implications of the law, its interpretation and applications.

Sanders passed away in 2012 at the age of 100. However, his marks are indelible to this day. In memory of Piet Sanders, the building housing the current Erasmus School of Law, the faculty library and the research qualification for faculty members bear his name.

Where Law Meets Business

Today, Erasmus School of Law is a large and prestigious law school, offering a wide range of undergraduate and graduate courses and research and postgraduate programmes. Erasmus School of Law is an internationally oriented faculty with its heart and soul rooted in Rotterdam: a breeding ground for academic talent in law, criminology, and tax law. It also partners with legal practice, government and business, the arts and science. 

At Erasmus School of Law, we believe in an interdisciplinary approach to law, teaching our students to approach legal issues from various perspectives. The fundamental premise of academic research at Erasmus School of Law is that law cannot be considered in isolation or as an end in itself: it is embedded in economic and social contexts that give meaning to the law. At the same time, law itself shapes society and defines economic relationships. In line with this vision, Erasmus School of Law’s mission is to conduct innovative research into the function of law in its economic and social context. Erasmus School of Law’s research has a strong social and business orientation. We, therefore, proudly propagate this orientation through our School’s motto: Where Law meets Business.

We are proud of Erasmus School of Law’s rich history and look confidently to the future. Our mission is to prepare students for the challenges of the modern world and help them grow into fully-fledged lawyers and criminologists. Moreover, we strive to conduct leading research and, thus, contribute to scientific development with societal impact.


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