Esin Örücü, 1940 – 2023

Published: 3 January 2024

It is with much sadness that the death is announced of Esin Örücü, Professor Emerita of Comparative Law and Honorary Senior Research Fellow, University of Glasgow.

It is with much sadness that the death is announced of Esin Örücü, Professor Emerita of Comparative Law and Honorary Senior Research Fellow, University of Glasgow; and Professor Emerita of Comparative Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam. As the year drew to a close, Esin died peacefully on 31 December 2023 at her home in Glasgow.  

Born in Istanbul, Turkey in 1940, Esin attended the English High School for Girls and the American College for Girls, before going on to study law at the University of Istanbul. She graduated from the Faculty of Law, first in her class, in 1965, proceeding to doctoral studies at the London School of Economics followed by a higher doctoral degree at the University of Istanbul. Esin taught as a member of the Faculty of Law in Istanbul from 1966 until 1976 before she moved to the UK.  

Esin joined the University of Glasgow in 1976 as a Lecturer in Jurisprudence and Comparative Law. Promoted first to Senior Lecturer in 1983, in 1992 she became Professor of Comparative Law; at that time only Glasgow’s third female Professor of Law. Officially retiring in 2005, Esin nonetheless continued to teach until 2010 – as she often said, it was a sign of just how much she loved teaching that she volunteered to do it when all obligation had ceased. At the age of 75, she announced that it really was time to stop teaching but, even then, in her capacity as Professor Emerita and Honorary Research Fellow, she remained an active and highly engaged member of the academic community, in Glasgow and beyond. 

Esin combined her working life in Glasgow with a parallel role as Professor of Comparative Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Faculty of Law, The Netherlands from 1981 to 2005. Her twin roles brought many benefits, not least to her students who had the opportunity to undertake exchange visits. Her permanent roles in Glasgow and Rotterdam were complemented by many other visiting appointments.  

With a lifelong passion for learning, Esin thrived on research and writing, continuing to publish until very recently, and with her curiosity and creativity undimmed. From major outputs such as The Enigma of Comparative Law: Variations on a Theme for the Twenty First Century through an extensive and impressive range of articles, papers and reports, her comparative law scholarship is well known and widely cited. The significance of Esin’s contribution was recognised most recently in 2022, when she was honoured by the International Academy of Comparative Law (IACL) as one of Five Great Comparatists.  

Her name means ‘Inspiration’ and there was nothing in which Esin took greater pleasure than the opportunity to encourage and to inspire students. She recounted here [link to], in her own words, the importance of inspiration, particularly from her mother, in allowing her to develop the life she went on to enjoy so fully. It is fitting that, in her final months, she was engaged in an exciting new project, for the establishment of the Esin Foundation, a trust which will allow her legacy to live on through the support of women in higher education, arts and culture.  

Whether as a leading international scholar of comparative law, a wonderful academic colleague or a gifted and truly inspirational teacher, Esin was known to many. She was a magical mix of serious intellect and outrageous fun; a caring and loyal collaborator, mentor and friend who will be much missed. While we are deeply sad at Esin’s passing, she would want us to remember that there is also much to celebrate. As she reflected frequently in recent weeks, she had lived “a wonderful life”. 

First published: 3 January 2024