What is your current role?
I am Associate Professor of Constitutional Law at the Department of Law, University of Genoa, Italy, where I hold a course in Constitutional Law, a course in Legislative Drafting and a course in Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. I am also Associate Research Fellow at the Sir William Dale Centre for Legislative Studies, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London. You can find my cv and short bio here.
Have you always wanted to work in academia?
I have always been interested in History, Philosophy, Classical Studies and Political Science and had a great passion for studying and researching. However, when I started studying Law at University, I was not thinking of working in academia. I simply knew that I did not want to do one of the ‘traditional’ legal professions (judge, advocate, etc.). At University, I fell in love with Constitutional Law, which is the branch of Law much closer to my interests. After graduating, I attended an advanced postgraduate course on Constitutional and Parliamentary Law. Then I worked as a legal trainee in the Italian Prime Minister’s office and started working as a legal advisor to a Member of the Italian Parliament: great practical experiences which trained me a lot. However, due to my passion for studying and researching, I felt I needed to continue looking at the field of Constitutional Law also from a theoretical perspective and I applied for a Ph.D. programme. Such an academic experience showed me that researching and teaching were what interested me most.
What are the challenges?
Curiosity is the main fuel for working in academia. By definition, you cannot carry out any research, if you are not curious about things. However, any research requires very accurate methodologies; absence of bias and an open mind; humility, and great patience. When it comes to writing, giving presentations and teaching (which means publishing and distributing the outcomes of your research), two skills are essential: good writing and speaking skills. This seems obvious and simple: however, such skills are not taken for granted. My great passion for Classical Studies helped me a lot in developing these skills.
What advice would you give to PhD students looking to get their work published and recognised within their respective fields?
I would recommend that they always follow a strict academic approach when they carry out their research. This means exploring new paths of knowledge and writing a paper only when there is something really original to say: in other words, something which could advance the academic debate in their field. However, they should refrain from being original at all costs. They should do your best to deal mainly with primary sources for your research (in my field: legislation, judgements and other legal acts). I would also recommend that they start their papers with a clear hypothesis to be demonstrated, followed by strong arguments and a clear conclusion. This should reflect the logical itinerary they already followed in carrying out their research. They should also never forget to deal with foreign literature and practices: good solutions to problems often come from abroad but many people don’t consider them. They should be explored, in order to understand whether they could fit with our own jurisdiction.
What research project(s) are you currently working on?
At the IALS, I co-lead (with Jonathan Teasdale, former lawyer with the Law Commission for England and Wales) the Law Reform Project. The aim of the Project is to identify the range, and to categorise the types, of law reform agencies operating across the common law world and the tools of law reform used there. And also to identify, in a similar fashion, the reviewing and revising mechanisms employed in jurisdictions operating within a civil law environment. Law reform in mixed jurisdictions is also analysed. Five annual workshops have been held at the IALS so far since 2015. Academic articles, most of them coming from those workshops, have been published in the journal European Journal of Law Reform (No. 3, 2016; No. 4, 2017; No. 1, 2019; No. 4, 2019) and in a special issue of the journal The Theory and Practice of Legislation (No. 2, 2018). You can find more information about the Project here.
At the University of Genoa, I am currently carrying out a research project on the advisory opinion which can be requested by the Highest courts and tribunal of a High Contracting Party under Protocol No. 16 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. In particular, as constitutional lawyer, I am exploring the role which could be played by advisory opinions requested by Constitutional courts in the systems of constitutional justice.
Professor Enrico Albanesi is Associate Professor of Constitutional Law at the Department of Law, University of Genoa, Italy. He is also an Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies.