PROF. CHRISTA RAUTENBACH
“The next female legal academic we will be featuring in our 100More series honouring female academics who have made a significant contribution to legal academia, and beyond is Professor Christa Rautenbach.
Describe your journey to becoming a law teacher
My journey to becoming a law teacher has been unique, shaped by my 14-year experience as a prosecutor before transitioning into academia. Working in the legal field as a prosecutor provided me with invaluable insights into the practical application of the law and the challenges within the legal system. This experience fuelled my passion for legal education and inspired me to pursue an academic career where I could contribute to shaping the next generation of legal professionals.
Describe a highlight and your most significant contribution to legal academia
A few highlights of my career in legal academia include the opportunity to edit and author two leading textbooks in South Africa, namely 'Introduction to Legal Pluralism in South Africa' (LexisNexis, 6th ed, 2021) and 'Law of Succession in South Africa' (OUP, 3rd ed, 2023). These publications have allowed me to delve into complex legal topics and provide valuable resources for students and practitioners alike. Additionally, I am proud to serve as the editor-in-chief of the esteemed Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, where I have the privilege of facilitating the publication of cutting-edge research and fostering scholarly dialogue within the legal community.
I am honoured to have been appointed as the Chair of the Advisory Committee of the South African Law Reform Commission in Project 144. This appointment reflects the recognition of my expertise and dedication to legal reform in South Africa. As the Chair, I have had the privilege of leading a significant investigation into developing a unified marriage act for South Africa. Our investigation aims to address the complexities and inconsistencies within the current marriage laws, ensuring equal rights and protections for all individuals, irrespective of their cultural or religious backgrounds. I hope our efforts towards a single marriage act will contribute to a more harmonious and equitable legal landscape, fostering social cohesion and upholding the principles of justice and equality.
I am incredibly pleased to have received a Network Initiative Reward from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, a prestigious recognition of my efforts in fostering collaboration and excellence in scientific research related to women and traditional governance. The significance of this recognition was elevated when I had the privilege of receiving the award from former German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a prestigious event ceremony in Berlin. This recognition and the opportunity to receive the award from Chancellor Merkel have further motivated me to continue promoting scientific excellence, fostering international partnerships, and driving positive change through research and collaboration. I am grateful for the support of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, which allows me to advance scientific knowledge and foster meaningful scholarly partnerships between Africa and Germany.
In 2021, I received a B rating from the National Research Foundation, undoubtedly a significant highlight of my career and a testament to the recognition of my international reputation as a legal scholar. This rating validates my dedication, expertise, and commitment to advancing legal scholarship and contributing to the broader academic community. It acknowledges the impact of my research within South Africa while highlighting its relevance and recognition on an international scale. This recognition serves as motivation to continue pushing the boundaries of legal knowledge, engaging in cutting-edge research, and making meaningful contributions to the field.
I am also honoured to have served as the Honorary Treasurer of the Society for Law Teachers for a period of 19 years.
Do you have some inspiring words for emerging law teachers?
For emerging law teachers, I offer some inspiring words. Embrace your unique journey and draw upon your diverse experiences to enrich your teaching. Remember that the law is not just a subject to be taught but a powerful tool for social change and justice. Stay committed to excellence, scholarship, and service, and never underestimate the impact you can have on your students and the legal profession as a whole. Emphasise the importance of critical thinking, ethical practice, and a deep understanding of the law's societal implications. Finally, continue to learn and grow as a teacher, staying abreast of new developments in the law and pedagogical approaches. Your dedication and passion for legal education will inspire the next generation of legal professionals to make their mark and contribute to a just and equitable society.