In this inaugural lecture, delivered at the Erasmus University Rotterdam on 21 November 2014, Elaine Mak outlines how legal research, integrating comparative and empirical methods, can provide insights to assist European judiciaries in responding to current challenges. Two important challenges relate to the on-going process of legal integration and to changing societal demands regarding judicial functioning in Europe. In this respect, the engagement of judges, policy makers and multidisciplinary scholarship is needed to guide processes of harmonisation of legal rules and procedures and to respond to the European Commission’s ambition to establish ‘a true European judicial culture’ amongst legal professionals. As a startingpoint for further reflection and debate, Mak presents a theoretical framework and methodology for the analysis of interaction between courts in Europe and the study of professional values for judicial decision-making and judicial organisation. Central elements in this perspective are leadership, culture and the (in-)flexibility of constitutional systems. The research theme and approach connect with Erasmus School of Law’s research programme ‘Rethinking the Rule of Law in an Era of Globalisation, Privatisation and Multiculturalisation’.