President Tarja Halonen had one female teacher at the Faculty of Law

Photo: Lasse Keltto, Rights: Office of President Tarja Halonen

Tarja Halonen, a former student of the Faculty of Law at Helsinki University,  served as the president of Finland from 2000 to 2012. She was the 11th present of the Finnish republic and the first woman to hold that position. Previously, she also served as a Minister of Social Affairs and Health, Minister of Justice, and Minister for Foreign Affairs.

President Tarja Halonen is a member and former chair of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers whose mission is to mobilize the highest-level women leaders globally for collective action on issues of critical importance to women and equitable development.

President Tarja Halonen, Helsinki University is your alma mater. What did you study and when was that?

I studied for my Master’s of Law in Porthania from 1963 to 1968. I continued to keep an eye on Licentiate opportunities while working at the secretariat at the National Union of University Students of Finland.

How do you remember Porthania’s study spaces and lecture halls?

They were very modern, especially in comparison to the main university building.

Did you attend lectures or did you prefer to study solely for the exams?  If you attended the lectures, what memories do you have of your teachers?

We had very few lectures. Studying took place primarily through self-study at the library, at Porthania, the study hall on Richardinkatu, or, in an emergency, at Domus Academica. Most law textbooks were sold out long ago and you occasionally had to do some detective work to find the book you needed. The few copies the library had were regularly misplaced so their previous readers could return to them before others could find them.

Did you have any female teachers?

Professor Inkeri Anttila was the only female teacher I had. She was good. She also held a criminology degree from the social sciences department. Because I specialised in criminal law, I had the honour of working with her. My dissertation concerned the supervision and guidance of young law breakers, which I would have also continued to study had things gone differently. Anttila was my absolute favourite lecturer.

In your career, you have held challenging international roles, e.g., you represented Finland at the European Union, United Nations, diplomatic conferences and other multilateral fora at numerous occasions. I remember, for example,  your speech at the Diplomatic Conference on the establishment of an international criminal court in Rome in 1998.  How did studying law at Helsinki University prepare you for these international tasks? Did you study international law as part of your degree?

I completed one exam in international law. Studying law helped me to understand the need to orient and familiarise myself with a topic, especially if it was a completely new subject matter.

What would you like to pass as a message to the current law students at Porthania? 

Demand changes from the university if the curriculum does not reflect real world needs, on e.g. sustainable development. Make the most of your time as students!

Office of President Tarja Halonen

Friendship day cards now available!

Remember your friend, fellow student, colleagues or family members with a card on friendship day. When you donate to the ‘Portraying the Invisible Professionals of Law’ collection, you can order a card made by Shanna Constantinescu to your e-mail by contacting Remember to mention your chosen card(s) number.

With the card you can support the fundraising for a new portrait for the halls of Porthania that represents the to date invisible professionals of law. You can at the same time also tell a story about your profession, values or experiences as a student at the faculty.

If you have already donated to the collection, but would still like to have a card, just contact us!

The first round of fundraising has been concluded. Thank you to all contributors. A second round of fundraising will commence in the early summer.

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Is constitutional law for men only? Interviewing docent, university lecturer Liisa Nieminen

Constitutional law docent and lecturer Liisa Nieminen has been a long-standing and influential researcher and member of the faculty of law, who teaches constitutional law, health and biomedical law as well as social welfare law at the moment. Furthermore, she is the recipient of the 2020 Maikki Friberg Equality Award.

1. Were you the first woman defending her doctoral thesis in constitutional law in Finland? How did you commence your career?

I defended my PhD thesis in 1990 on the ‘emancipatory possibilities of fundamental rights?’. It was the first research project, which pointed out the strongly gendered dimensions of fundamental rights. At the time, there was very little supervision provided and a researcher was largely left alone with her work. Yet, I was always used to managing on my own. Though I was not the first high school graduate or even doctor in my family, coming from a small country school, it was not common to continue in a faculty of law, medicine or at a university of technology. Resilience and being used to hard work helped me. Though many structural changes have been made, many doctoral candidates are still largely left alone with their research.

In the same year that I defended, I published a book on children’s fundamental rights. Critics held that I had completely misunderstood everything and argued that children could not have fundamental rights. They were influenced by professor Ilmari Melander’s PhD entitled ‘On Children’s care’, according to which children were to be placed on the same level as objects. For its time, my book thus was very radical, but today everyone is ready to endorse my book’s arguments.

Afterwards, I went on to publish more than ten book on different topics, mostly touching on fundamental and human rights. Aside from the University of Helsinki, I have also worked at the University of Lapland. I was an Academy of Finland researcher/academy researcher for eight years. In addition, I have worked for three years as an ombudsman for the Finnish Parliament and for two years as the secretary general of the research ethics advisory board appointed by the Ministry of Justice.

During my time as a student, constitutional law was the most male dominated field of legal studies, which was predominantly of interest to politically active students. Some well-known public figures who did their thesis on constitutional law were for example Ben Zyskowicz, Anneli Jäätteenmäki, Johannes Koskinen and a little later Tuija Brax and Antti Rinne among others.

Liisa Nieminen at her promotion ceremony

When I was a student, there were hardly any female teachers. I cannot recall attending a female teacher’s lecture with the exception of Irma Lager’s course on distraint law. Virpi Tiili was one of the teachers giving the private law basic course and Pirkko-Liisa Arolta (later Haarmann) approved my commercial law exam. Then, only few lectures were given. The only excellent lecturer I can recall is Pekka Koskinen.

2. Which other women have defended their PhD’s at the University of Helsinki in constitutional law?

In constitutional law there are only very few. Follwing me, the first female PhD was Any Mutanen, who transferred from the University of Eastern Finland to Helsinki to work as an assistant in constitutional law. She defended in 2015. In addition, Satu Heikkilä in 2016 (”From Final Judgement to Final Resolution, Effectiveness of the Execution of the European Court of Human Rights in Finland”) and Lia Heasman in 2018 (”The Corporate Responsibility to Protect Human Rights) defended their Phds, though their work is more human rights rather than constitutional law oriented. Drawing the line is difficult and for example, Minna Hanninen’s Phd on patenting of inventions based on human originating material from a fundamental and human rights’ perspective (2020) could be seen as a constitutional law work as it conducts an in-depth fundamental and human rights analysis. Yet, it was considered as health and biomedical law research.

3. What kind of a field of law has constitutional law been for female researchers in Finland? Has the situation changed during your career?

I was the first female assistant. The former professor Paavor Kastari is well known for having publicly recommended to women to content themselves with a Bachelor of Laws. In the 1960s, he had for example the possibility to employ Riitta-Leena Paunio (nee Heiskanen) as an assistant, who later became the first female ombudsman. However, Kastari could not hire her ‘because of her gender’ but chose a male assistant. I have heard this story both from Paunio as well as the hired male candidate. Neither of them defended.

Generally, few have defended in constitutional law. Prior to my defence the previous defence in constitutional law was Ilkka Saraviita’s in 1971. In Turku, the first PhD in the field of constitutional law was completed only in 2000. In the University of Lapland, the faculty was founded only in 1979, and in the University of Eastern Finland, the right to complete a Master of Laws degree was only granted in the early 2000s.

Later in the 1990s, when there were more doctoral candidates in the field, I noticed the field’s male dominance and inward focus. Even men, who don’t belong to the same friend’s group have trouble accessing the inner circle. These same people also choose the field’s professors. There has been talk of the bias of experts, but little discussion on the biases in law. The recommendations written into the equality plan regarding the gender division of experts have also not been implemented.

4. In the discussions of late, critical comments have been made from different perspectives regarding the power of constitutional law experts in the (Finnish Parliament’s) constitutional law committee. According to this Helsingin Sanomat newspaper article of 8 December 2020, the constitutional law committee’s perspective on expertise is simplified in gender terms:

“The constitutional law committee has heard the leading experts in Finland. The committee has heard among others the former attorney general Jaakko Jonkaa, criminal law professor emeritus Pekka Viljanen as well as constitutional emeritus professor Mikael Hidén, criminal law professors Sakari Melander and Kimmo Nuotio as well as constitutional law professors Veli-Pekka Viljanen and Tuomas Ojanen. In addition, the committee has heard assistant attorney general Jukka Rappe and received a statement from the Parliament’s ombudsman Petri Jääskeläinen.”

How would you comment on the discussion of the hearings?

Traditionally constitutional law professors and possibly other experts go to the constitutional law committee as experts. Previously, it was still in reasonable proportions, but nowadays it can be up to a hundred times during a parliament’s period. Is this the central role of a university teacher? Though interactions with society are emphasised, this is not enough. Few manage to research and teach full time in addition to such a secondary occupation. Personally, I focus on research and teaching and do not use a tally sheet to keep track of hearings (compare to Portinvartija, Suomen Kuvalehti 32/2018).

Hearings are not completely male-dominated anymore as for example in EU-law hearings female experts are also heard. Yet, in order for an expert’s word to count, the expert needs to be heard often. Otherwise, one notices that one speaks to empty rooms as most committee members focus on completely different things or even leave the room.

Interview conducted by Immi Tallgren.

How has the staff and student composition of the Faculty of Law changed in the last 45 years professor Heikki Halila?

Professor (emeritus) Heikki Halila, you have had a long career in the Faculty of Law (employed 15.9.1975-31.5.2020), first as a student advisor and project planner for study programme reforms as well as in different teaching positions, and lastly as a professor of private law. You are interested in the history of the Finnish bar and law, and have published many articles on these topics in the Lakimies- and Lakimiesuutiset-journals.

How has the staff composition of the Faculty changed during your career?

In 1975, six women completed their doctorate in law and the only female professor of law in Finland was employed in our Faculty. Now, out of 31 professors in the Faculty nine are women, and the share of women in other teaching positions is even higher. Of the new doctoral candidates the majority is already female. In 1975, on the fifth floor of Porthania, close to my office, was the office of American professor Wheeler. She was a visiting researcher at the Faculty for a few months. Nigerian Maurice Andem, whom I met during my studies, was at the time completing his doctorate and defended in 1979. They were the only foreigners at the time and few of the Faculty staff had spent long periods abroad. Many had of course contacts abroad. Today, particularly on the 6th floor you can often hear more English conversations than Finnish. Furthermore, the majority of researchers is interested in more than just law studies.

Have you followed the changes in the numbers of completed Phds and their publication language?

In the Lakimies journal, we have since 1946 reported on the major changes of every decade in terms of Finnish doctors of law, who are alive. Since 1986, the publication of this report has been my responsibility. The last one was completed with Ville Pönkä. These reports are a fascinating read. In the years 2006-2015 225 persons completed their doctorates, on average 22,5 per year. In the period 1966-1975 only 32 doctorates were completed, 3,2 per year. The numbers of persons alive with a doctorate degree has risen significantly from 90 in 1975 to 495 in 2015. At present the number is close to 600. Many factors contribute to this major increase. The conditions for research have improved and the requirement for a completed licenciate degree has been removed. More and more continue to work on the same topic as in their master thesis and the best master degrees are of a very high quality – much better than in the past, when there were no advanced special project courses available. At the same time, the requirements for a doctoral degree have decreased as part of the performance based management system. Moreover, also the language of doctorates has changed. Today, approximately half of all doctoral thesis are written in another language than Finnish or Swedish. Partially this is due to the increase in foreign students. To compare, in 1966-1975 only two doctorates were not written in Finnish or Swedish, but in German.

How has the profile of doctoral candidates and teaching staff changed in the Faculty, particularly from a gender perspective?

The biggest change has certainly been that women have increasingly applied for doctoral studies despite the gender prejudices that were prevalent in the legal profession in the last decades. As a consequence, women have started to fill a wide variety of roles within the legal profession. For a long time, there had been no women’s or men’s legal tasks.
Subsequently, women have also pursued doctoral studies and different tasks within the Faculty. Slowly, also the gender difference within the research communities has slowly faded. Yet, in 2016, in the board meeting of the Lakimies-journal we noticed that corporate law was a discipline that was still mainly in the hands of male doctoral researchers, whereas law and gender research was female dominated. A female researcher commented during the faculty days at the beginning of the last decade that women were well suited for lecturer positions; therefore, the amount of lecturer positions should be increased at the expense of professorial positions. I disagree with this statement. Women are equally well-suited for all of the teaching positions in the Faculty.

Lastly, I’d like to ask, who were the most influential law teachers and role models during your studies?

The Faculty has always had excellent teaching staff – though not necessarily known for their pedagogical abilities. The educational technology has of course developed significantly, however, the most influential factor is what a researcher can pass on to her students and post-grads from their personal experiences particular in seminars.

From the beginning of my studies, I can still remember Paavo Kastari’s compelling constitutional law lectures, where he always told many stories about things that you could not learn from a book, such as his interactions with (former Finnish president) Urho Kekkonen. For me, an important figure was Matti Ylöstalo, whose bright personality, knowledgeability, and depth of mind made a long-lasting impression. He supervised my theses from the master’s level on. If I have to mention a role model, he certainly was one (for a more detailed analysis of Ylöstalo see DL 2017, pp.152-163). I completed a minor with Simo Zittling, whom I knew since my childhood as a good friend of my father’s. As an adult, it was interesting to familiarise myself with his writings, teaching and get to know him as a well-informed person. There were of course many impressive professors around. Professor of jurisprudence Kaarle Makkonen nurtured our minds. His PhD thesis was a must-read for post-graduate students and he guided us with a socratic method whenever engaging with us in the corridors of Porthania.

Interview conducted by Immi Tallgren

Do you remember her?

Many current teachers and researchers at the Helsinki University Faculty of Law worked closely with or otherwise remember the legal professionals listed below. Was any of them your teacher? Or were you colleagues? To our newest generation: have you heard of them, would you like to know about their life and work?

In the ‘Portraits of Invisible Legal Professionals’ blog, we remember our friends, colleague, and teachers. They have been divided into two lists:

    1. Teaching and research staff from the faculty, including doctoral students involved in teaching
    2. Lawyers who have had an impact on Finnish society or internationally and who undertook doctoral research at the faculty.

One can of course belong to both lists, though should not be mentioned in both.

The timescales indicated are guidelines only and refer to the total time served e.g. first as a senior assistant and later as a professor. This blog is not exclusive to descriptions, rather the aim of this project is to remember staff members holistically as members of the community while taking into account their professional contributions and experiences. Many have taught, supervised dissertations, contributed to research, marked exam papers, helped in translation services, and assisted in many other ways in the day-to-day functioning of the faculty and university without recognition. They have had a significant impact on the university as members of our community. To this end, Sara Kalm has written about the gendered nature of academia, especially on its administrative side.

List 1 is reserved for members of staff who have already retired from work life or from academia, not current staff members. List 2 is as of yet incomplete and will be expanded. Both lists are to be frequently updated, so please do make suggests on who should be included and inform us with corrections if you see something missing or erroneous.

Examples of source material include: Urpo Kangas, Oikeustiede Suomessa 1900-2000 (WSOY, 1998); Leena Ellonen (ed.), Suomen professorit 1640-2007 (Professoriliitto, 2008), Lakimiesmatrikkeli; Helsingin yliopiston Arkki 1640; Helsinki University Tuhat database; Kuka kukin on -series;, Lakimiesliiton, Lakimiesyhdistyksen ja Naisjuristit ry:n materials; Heikki Pihlajamäki (ed.), Näkökulmia korkeimman oikeuden historiaan 1918-2018 (Edita, 2018); Mia Korpiola, Ystäviä, politiikkaa ja oikeustieteen opintoja: Pykälä ry 1935-2010 (Edita, 2010); Mia Korpiola’s articles on the first female jurists and judges of the highest court of Finland (see

The creation of a third list, of e.g. judges, is possible if we find enough contributors. All expertise and assistance is welcome!

Teachers and researchers at the Helsinki University Faculty of law

Inkeri Anttila (1961-1979, criminal law)

Pirkko-Liisa Aro (later Haarmann) (1971-1983, civil law, trade law)

Ritva Buure-Hägglund (1989-1996, international private law)

Ruth Donner (international law)

Suvianna Hakalehto (children’s rights)

Lenita Häggblom (procedural law)

Mia Korpiola (legal history)

Pirkko K. Koskinen (1975-1982, labour law)

Kirsti Kurki-Suonio (family law)

Irma Lager (1974-1992, procedural law)

Johanna Niemi (procedural law, law and gender research)

Kevät Nousiainen (1997-2009, gender law)

Anja Nummijärvi (labour law)

Kirsti Rissanen (1987-2009, trade law)

Lena Sisula-Tulokas (1998-, civil law)

Outi Suviranta (2008-2012, administrative law)

Terttu Utriainen (criminal law)

Marjo Ylhäinen (labour law)

Well-known lawyers (Finland and internationally), who have completed their studies or PhD in the Faculty (examples)

Tuija Brax

Olga Bremer (first permanent lower court judge, Jyväskylä RO, around 1951)

Tarja Halonen

Anna-Maja Henriksson

Päivi Hirvelä

Anneli Jäätteenmäki

Seija Karkinen

Lemmikki Kekomäki (Highest Administrative Court of Finland)

Pauliine Koskelo

Marja Lehto

Agnes Lundell (see. Mia Korpiola, ’Agnes Lundellin rohkea erivapaustaistelu’, in Kaikenlaista rohkeutta (Helsinki, 2019)

Riitta-Leena Paunio

Hannele Pokka

Marjatta Rasi

Helvi Sipilä

Maarit Saarni-Rytkolä (Supreme Court of Finland)

Kaarina Suonio

Elisabeth Tigerstedt-Tähtelä

Astrid Thors

Anja Tulenheimo-Takki

Remembering Inkeri Anttila

On the windowsill of the faculty room on the 5th floor of Porthania sits the bust of Professor Inkeri Anttila. We interviewed an emeritus professor of criminal law, Raimo Lahti:

Who was Inkeri Anttila?           

Inkeri Anttila was a trailblazer in criminal law in many ways. She was the first woman in Finland to obtain a doctorate in law (1946), the first woman to become a professor of law (1961) and the first female Minister of Justice (1975). Furthermore, she oversaw the expansion of criminal law within the faculty into criminology and criminal policy and advanced criminological research at the Faculty of Criminology (later OPTULA and KRIMO).

Bust of Inkeri Anttila in the Porthania faculty room. Artist: Edgar Viies

Lastly, Anttila had significant influence in changing attitudes in criminal policy during the 1970s. As a consequence, the values and decision-making criteria underlying criminal policies were reassessed and modified becoming more rationality and humane oriented and being defined in terms of impact, value, and consent. Anttila drafted and implemented these changes during her term ministerial term and as vice-chairman for the renewal project of the Finnish Criminal Code (1980-1997). (C.f. Raimo Lahti (toim.), ”Inkeri Anttila (1916-2013). Rikosoikeuden uudistajan ammatillinen ura ja vaikutus, Forum Iuris 2016).

Inkeri Anttila was also active internationally. Was she more well known internationally or in Finland?

Inkeri Anttila’s career was very focused on the international dimension and she was a central figure in developing criminal law at the UN and the EU, as well as in various Nordic institutions. Her numerous awards and recognitions speak to her international profilShe was well-regarded and respected on the international stage, reflected in the numerous awards and recognitions she received (for example the American Society of Criminology’s Sellin-Glueck award in 1983, the UN General Secretary’s award for advancing international criminal law in 1992, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the European Society of Criminology in 2011). In addition, she held numerous prestigious positions at various international organisations. Her last major position was as the head of the UN-affiliated European Institute for Criminal Prevention and Control (Heuni) 1982-1986. Since her appointment as professor, I believe Anttila to have been equally respected abroad and domestically also as a significant figure in criminal law research and criminal policy.

Did you take part in fundraising efforts for the bust? Could you tell us about that process? What did Inkeri Anttila think of the project?

As far as I am aware, Inkeri Anttila regarded the project positively and with a sense of humour, including the four works dedicated to her and her 70th birthday party in 1986. She did not, however, want her portrait to be painted. She agreed to a black-and-white photo and these images were made for her to archive at important institutes (Porthania, OPTULA, and Heuni). Anttila’s daughter, Liisa Elovainio, got her to agree to model for a bust by the Estonian sculptor, Edgar Viiekselä. That bust was given to the principal of the University Kari Raivio on Anttila’s 80th birthday 28.11.1996. I started the fundraising campaign to which Anttila’s students, colleagues, and friends donated. Anttila herself shunned the expression on the bust but Viies assured her of its dignity. Since Anttila’s 80th birthday, many law associations and other parties began to award medals with Anttila’s image made by Toivo Jaatinen.

How did Inkeri Anttila regard gender within academia? Did she identify herself as a feminist?

An accurate answer would require a straightforward definition of feminism. I’ll answer by quoting first two persons close to Anttila. The first is her daughter, Liisa Elovainio, who said that “in both her professional life and in raising her daughter, Inkeri believed that women’s equality is advanced best by a woman doing her job well. By doing so, she demonstrates equality in practice and thereby encourages others. The word ‘feminism’ was not used at home. Inkeri seldom participated in women’s organisations.” Pertti Hallikainen described Anttila in 1996 not as a women’s cause advocate but as a woman with an agenda. In a 1986 interview, Anttila did not report to have experienced discrimination as a student, nor does she express bitterness to have been side-lined in her academic endeavours in favour of male candidates.

Similar to Hallikainen, I regard Anttila to have not been an ideological feminist, but promoting gender equality was natural to her both at home and in her profession. For example, she encouraged male and female peers equally to pursue research and the legal profession. Pertti Pesonen in his memoir “Anttila, the Woman of the Decade” (1996), considers women of this age group as breakers of the glass ceiling due to their skirts – and boundaries were crossed with knowledge, skill, energy, and organisational skills.

You have had a long career at the Faculty of Law at the University of Helsinki. Can you think of a colleague whose bust or portraits you would like to see in Porthania?

First of all, I regard the memory of colleagues and researchers to best be preserved through their academic literature and other productions being valued in research. I thought it important, however, to celebrate Inkeri Anttila by producing a publication honouring her work by collecting her most important English articles with the help of Patrik Törnudd. Portraits, statues, and busts are of course important visual and personified forms of remembering as they also depict the chain of development from generation to generation of legal professionals. Portraits of female professors are rarer than those of their male colleagues even though the increased status and number of women within the faculty should also be made apparent visually in university spaces. In the last decades, in my opinion, the women who have had esteemed academic careers at the University of Helsinki are Pirkko-Liisa Haarmann, Kirsti Rissanen, and Pirkko K. Koskinen.

Raimo Lahti at the 2010 conferment ceremony, surrounded by his former doctoral students. Credits: Lauri Lahti

Original text in Finnish:
Translations by Katariina Flinck.

Prof Raimo Lahti has written an In Memoriam of Inkeri Anttila, accessible here:

Lahti, Raimo. 2017. “Inkeri Anttila (1916-2013) In Memoriam”. International Annals of Criminology, 51(1-2): 175-178. Cambridge University Press. DOI: 10.1017/S0003445200000118

‘Portraying the Invisible Professionals of Law’ – Welcome to the project page!

Portraits of rulers, politicians, scientists, other intellectuals and artists have, for centuries, constructed and reinforced hierarchies of value. The traditions of portraits are a rich object of research, not only in art history, but also in sociology and political science. The establishment of national portrait galleries in Europe, such as the great British National Gallery of Portraits, was intertwined with nationalism and the high season of professional historiography in the 19th century Europe.

As in most other academic disciplines and fields of professional expertise, until close to the present times, the idolized faces of excellence and continuity in law have been of those of (white) men. This reflects the existing power hierarchies of law – including gender, class and ‘race’– that have prevailed for long periods of time also in Finland.

Professors Hermansson and Wrede in the Faculty room, artists Väinö Blomstedt and Kirsti Rein

Portraits have served as a means of reinforcing and shaping social relations and norms, including the gendered roles in the professions of law.

Finnish society, the University of Helsinki and its Faculty of Law have undergone significant transformations in the last decades. The community of researchers, teachers and students of law are more diverse in all respects. Research in history (both in general and of law) has since the 1960s included approaches that critically analyse the presences and absences of potentially marginalized agents and actors in histories.

Similarly, the gendered, classed, raced underpinnings of law and its institutional practice have been for long studied in legal theory and doctrine, worldwide and in Finland. Yet the portraits of Porthania continue to tell us a singularly patriarchal and nationalistic story of the scholarship and excellence in law.

P667 gallery from the teacher’s perspective.

The idea for this project on the continuities and ruptures in how professional value in law is imagined,  symbolized, and celebrated in collective rituals, has been simmering for a while, as Immi Tallgren recalls: “I had for long been puzzled by the portraits on the walls at my alma mater, the Faculty of Law at the University of Helsinki. Portraits of men, in their heavy wooden or metal frames, fill the walls of the corridors and the faculty board meeting room. From my office on the 6th floor of the Porthania building, in the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, I cannot reach the common room with a coffee machine or the elevators without those silent faces in frames staring at me – some stern and sulky, others acquiescing a female presence. There is not one portrait of a woman to be seen anywhere in the faculty.

Professor Hilary Charlesworth (Melbourne Law School), one of the first proponents of feminist international law, with the statute of Professor Inkeri Anttila in the Faculty Room in 2017. Artist: Edgar Viies

One tiny bronze head with female features sits on a window ledge in the faculty room. Seeing her there, alone, one may get the impression she is looking out of the window into the lively crowd of students, as if searching for peers – much easier now that over the half of law students are women. Yet none made it to be framed on the wall.”

The project has a positive outlook on the future: just as portraiture may have been a site of domination and its reproduction, it can be turned into a site of playful renewal of cultural and professional codes and norms. The intention of the current collection is not to flag a lack of respect for the collective and individual memories of the past of the Faculty of Law, but to open up a creative space for dialogue on the representation of law, the legal research community and the excellence of the heterodox professionals of law working in Finland. The medium of portraits as art and representation has changed and will continue to change with the digital media culture, where images have a key role. Please join us in the exploration of new forms for making the invisibles of law visible through art and providing a public forum for inclusive discussions.

This blog will regularly provide updates on the progress of the project, the art commission process and stories/memories of former and current members of the Faculty of Law’s community.

We invite you to engage in the project, through sharing your ideas and financially supporting the project. The first round of  collection of funds (based on permit number RA/2020/1375) ended on 14 February 2021. A second round will be commenced in the early summer.

Questions, contributions and suggestions can be sent to Immi Tallgren ( and Anna van der Velde (

For the Finnish version of the blog, see

The photographs on the blog pages have been taken by Immi Tallgren and Anna van der Velde. All portraits are displayed in the halls of the Porthania building of the Helsinki University Law Faculty. For more details on the portraits, please contact Immi Tallgren.