Elaine Mak is Professor of Jurisprudence (since June 2016) and Dean of the Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance (since September 2023). From September 2018 until August 2023 she was Vice-Dean for Education.
Mak's research and teaching connect a legal-theoretical perspective with studies in comparative constitutional law and empirical-legal analysis. In her academic work, she focuses on the functioning of the institutions of government (legislature, executive branch, and in particular the judiciary) in Western liberal democracies in an evolving legal context. In connection with this focus, she has a particular interest in the knowledge, skills and professional ethics of 'legal professionals of the future' and the way in which legal educational programmes can prepare students for this role. This also was the topic of her inaugural lecture at Utrecht University, The T-shaped Lawyer and Beyond: Rethinking legal professionalism and legal education for contemporary societies (2017).
Between 2008-2011, Mak conducted research regarding the changing role of highest courts in Western countries under the effects of the globalisation of law and legal systems. This research was financed with a Veni grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and culminated in the monograph Judicial Decision-Making in a Globalised World: A Comparative Analysis of the Changing Practices of Western Highest Courts (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2013). Since November 2016, she leads an NWO Vidi research project regarding the development of judicial cultures in the European Union, which to date has yielded different types of output (publications, midterm conference, presentations). She supervises PhD research connecting with the fields of legal theory, (comparative) constitutional law and empirical-legal studies as well as the combination of these perspectives.
In legal-theoretical education, Mak uses a 'law in context' approach, in which students obtain knowledge and insights relating to the foundations of law as well as to normative and empirical perspectives which enable us to develop a critical view on the laws in force. Examples relating to law reforms and developments in case law as well as societal debates on legal themes serve as starting-points for reflection in this regard.
Elaine Mak holds law degrees from the Erasmus University Rotterdam and the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. She obtained her PhD degree (cum laude) at the Erasmus University Rotterdam in 2008 and from January 2014 until May 2016 was Professor of Empirical Study of Public Law as well as Director of the Erasmus Graduate School of Law. She was a member of the editorial board of the Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy (NJLP) and chair of the board of the Netherlands Association for Philosophy of Law. She is a member of the Descartes Centre for the History and Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities at the UU and she was a member of the first generation of Utrecht Young Academy. Furthermore, she engages in a number of ancillary activities in society, inter alia as a honorary supplementary judge in criminal cases at the Court of Appeal of The Hague.