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As the School of Law commemorates Professor Sir Neil MacCormick we invite your memories of the renowned academic and respected political leader.

Professor Sir Neil MacCormick

Throughout his 36 years as Regius Professor of Public Law and the Law of Nature and Nations at the University of Edinburgh, Professor MacCormick was continually engaged in both the academic and political realms, approaching his work with a combination of intellectual rigour, fairness, and reflectiveness that his peers admired and respected.

Now, 7 years after his death, the University’s School of Law has commissioned a collection of four busts, created by Scottish artist and Edinburgh College of Art Programme Director of Sculpture, Kenny Hunter, as a tribute to Professor MacCormick’s life and work.

Looking to the future

Two of the busts will be set on either side of the main entrance to the refurbished Law School, reflecting the duality of his life in academia and public affairs. The remaining single busts will be placed on display at the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery as a fitting reminder for future generations of Professor MacCormick’s life, vision, and wide-ranging influence.

Law and politics

A Fellow of both the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the British Academy, he held a number of key academic posts within the University and was constantly in demand as a visiting professor.

Professor MacCormick also held deep political convictions that led to his direct participation in Scottish and European politics, drawing from his academic background in legal philosophy as he helped shape law and constitutional theory over several decades.

In 1999 he was appointed Honorary Queens Counsel (England and Wales), and he received his knighthood for services to scholarship in law in 2001. Sadly, Professor MacCormick was diagnosed with cancer shortly after retiring from his chair in 2008, and passed away on 5 April 2009.

A great teacher, thinker, and friend

I first met Professor MacCormick when I interviewed for my first job at the University of Edinburgh in March 1986. I worked with him for many years and knew his family well. Though Professor MacCormick was in the top echelons, that’s not really what set him apart. He was a born enthusiast about everything, and had a remarkable knack for finding the best in everything and everyone. He brought considerateness to his interactions with everyone, and never assumed his agenda was the most important. His genuine interest and curiosity in other people made him a great teacher, thinker, and friend.

Professor Neil WalkerRegius Professor of Public Law and the Law of Nature and Nations

To commemorate and celebrate Professor MacCormick’s lasting impact, we invite all those who knew and worked with him – whether as a student, colleague, or friend – to share your memories of him, and reflections on his lasting influence as both an academic and public figure.

Please send your memories to alumni@ed.ac.uk or c/o Ruth Strain, Development and Alumni, Charles Stewart House, 9-16 Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1HT.

Sculpture fund

If you would like to contribute to the Professor Sir Neil MacCormick commemorative sculptures and inspire future generations of students and teachers at Edinburgh Law School, you can do so online by following the secure link below.

Donate online

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