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WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Laura Carlson (J.D. ’91)

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Laura Carlson
(J.D. ’91)


From Laura Carlson,
October 10, 2013

The responsibility for how I ended up an academic in Sweden can be squarely placed on the student exchange program the University of Minnesota Law School has with the Uppsala University School of Law. I received a Bachelor of Arts from Carleton College in 1983 and began law school at the U of M in 1988. One of my fellow students, Jennifer Blomstrom, decided to show the "Swedes" around the Twin Cities. I volunteered to help, and met my future husband, Fredrik Gustafsson. After graduating from law school, I clerked two years for the Honorable Franklin L. Noel, chief magistrate judge in the Minnesota office of the U.S. District Court. After that my husband and I moved to Sweden, where I embarked on my Swedish legal career.

I received a juris kandidat (Master of Law) from Uppsala University School of Law in 2000 and a juris doktor (Doctor of Law) from Stockholm University School of Law (Juridicum) in 2007. I began teaching a class in American law while a doctoral student. Doctoral students in Sweden receive a salary, which means that though you are not highly paid, you do not go into debt to study. After several years of fixed-term contracts (the plague of all academics in Europe), I received tenure at Stockholm University Law School in 2012. I am now an associate professor (docent) and head of the labor and employment law department at Juridicum, and responsible for that segment of classes in the mandatory part of the legal education, with about 250 students each term. I am also responsible for the upper-level elective courses in comparative law, labor and employment law, and I continue to teach the American and English business law course.

In addition to teaching, the other exciting aspect of being an academic in Sweden is participating in pan-European research projects. To date I have been involved in four such projects. With these, researchers from all over Europe meet all over Europe to discuss how certain legal issues are handled at both the European Union and the national levels. This is a challenge, as not only are the legal systems quite different, but communicating between languages and cultures can be tricky. Europe has definitely created a Euro-English. Such European research projects, as well as teaching students from all over Europe, create legal petri dishes where literally most legal solutions contemplated can be explored. The EU is an exciting legal project in itself, and I feel privileged to be able to be a part of that through my teaching and research—and being forced to travel to major European cities to do these things in no way detracts from this.