Meet Prof. Eric Bylander, Visiting Faculty Member from Sweden
Joining the faculty as a visiting professor this semester is Eric Bylander, professor of procedural law at Uppsala University in Sweden. This is Prof. Bylander’s second tour of duty as a visiting professor at the Law School, and he was also previously here as an exchange student.
What courses are you teaching while you are with the University of Minnesota Law School?
Together with Professor Neha Jain I teach the upper level course Supreme Courts in Comparative Perspectives. It covers the differing roles and powers of supreme courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, the European Court of Justice, and other supreme courts of more limited jurisdiction. Through distance education, I’m also course director for an advanced course on civil litigation at my home faculty at Uppsala University, Sweden.
You first came to the Law School as an exchange student. Why did you come here and what was your student experience like?
I was here in the fall of 1997 within the exchange program between the University of Minnesota Law School and the Faculty of Law at Uppsala University, Sweden. This program started in 1982-83 and includes both students and faculty. My student experience included both fruitful studies (such as international human rights for Professor David Weissbrodt) and a memorable social life. I also wrote parts of my Master of Laws Thesis in the Law Library with its vast collection of Swedish materials.
This is your second stint as a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota. What motivated you to come back? What are you hoping to get out of your experience here?
In the fall of 2015, I was here with my wife and our three daughters (who are soon 11, 10, and 7 years old, respectively). We all had a great time, and the girls kept asking when the family (now including their baby brother, who was born in the spring of 2016) could go back. This is a great place to be and the coming back so soon gives me the opportunity to reconnect and to develop the exchange program.
Could you describe a little bit about your specialty area of procedural law and why you chose to make it your specialty area?
I’ve specialized in such areas of procedural law which are common to both civil and criminal procedure, as well as some related fields of law. That includes case-selection by superior courts, impartiality issues, and legal rhetoric. I served as a clerk and a judge in Swedish courts for some years, which inspired my LL.D. dissertation on oral and written procedural communication in the light of new court technology.
Speaking broadly, what are some differences between the teaching of law in Sweden vs. the United States?
The most striking difference is the strong focus on case law, compared to other sources of law, over here. Another difference is that the law students here already have an academical grade before going to law school, which helps the discussions to become more multifaceted.
You’ve have chosen to return to the Twin Cities several times in your career. What are a few of the things you like most about the area?
The Scandinavian heritage in this setting fascinates me. Minnesota is quite Scandinavian for being American, but quite American for being Scandinavian. Irrespective of origin, I find most people here being very nice. “Minnesota Nice” isn’t just a saying and the Twin Cities offers so many nice views and possibilities.
How do you like to spend your free time when you are not teaching and researching?
I like to be with my family and friends. When on my own for a while, I like to go to some nice antiquarian book store. I look forward to biking when the weather gets more bike-friendly. I haven’t been skiing since I lived in Norway for a while many years ago, but it looks like I have to start over after all those years.