Legal biographies and autobiographies are a rich and important source of information about the legal system, the evolution of case law and statute and legal cultures more generally. Yet, despite a growing interest over the last fifty years in the information such studies contain, they have been much neglected in the study of law.
The Legal Biography Project, convened by the Law Department at the LSE, seeks to remedy this omission by providing a focus in Britain for biographical research in law. The aim of the project is to create a rich foundation for scholarship on legal history, legal biography and the history of the legal profession. Drawing on published works, official records, personal letters, oral histories, art work and film we aim to facilitate a broader discussion than has taken place to date about ideas of lawyering, judgecraft, judicial identity, judicial diversity and the changes which have occurred to these notions over time.
The pursuit of this goal has two main aspects. First, the Project aims to promote scholarship in the field through a number of activities, including:
workshops and public lectures
the establishment of a network of scholars working in related fields in both other departments at LSE and beyond;
Second, the Project aims to raise funds to develop the collection of legal biographies that it received through the generous bequest of an anonymous donor in 2011. Full details about the collection, and a catalogue to enable research access, will be uploaded to this website in late November 2011.
Staff in the law Department are currently working on two projects that have relevance to the way that stories about law and the judiciary are told. The first of these is the Irish Feminist Judgments project which is exploring how seminal cases might have been decided differently if a feminist had been judging:http://www.feministjudging.ie/. The second AHRC funded project focuses on how judicial identity and biography are mediated by images of the judiciary: http://judicial.images.org
The Legal Biographies Collection
The Legal Biographies Collection is housed within the LSE Law Department in room 6.18 of the New Academic Building. The Collection is available for public access during normal Reception hours, 10am - 4pm, Monday - Friday. Appointments, however, are essential: please email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a time. Please note that this is a reference collection only, and all researchers will be required to provide appropriate identification, and to fill out a form, in order to access the Collection. Access to photocopying services can be arranged through Reception.
Professor W.R. Cornish FBA (Magdalene College, Cambridge)
Sir Ross Cranston FBA (chair)
Dr Stephen Cretney FBA (Emeritus Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford)
Guy Holborn (Librarian, Lincoln's Inn)
Professor Patrick Polden (Law School, Brunel University)
of Funding for Links to Other Scholarly Projects Eminent Scholars Archive (University of Cambridge) First 100 Years South Asian Legal History Resources website Women Trailblazer Project
(in particular South Asians at the Inns)
Links to Other Scholarly Projects
Eminent Scholars Archive (University of Cambridge)
First 100 Years
South Asian Legal History Resources website
Women Trailblazer Project
Tuesday 19 May | 6.30pm-8pm | Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building
In Conversation with Sir Stephen Sedley
Sir Stephen Sedley, in conversation with Sir Ross Cranston
As part of LSE's Legal Biography Project, Sir Ross Cranston will interview Sir Stephen Sedley on his life and career in the law. After a distinguished career as one of Britain’s leading barristers, Sir Stephen was appointed a high court judge in 1992, and a Lord Justice of Appeal in 1999. During his twelve years on the Court of Appeal, he made a significant contribution to the development of many areas of modern English law, particularly in public law. He has also written widely on English law and the constitution, and is a regular contributor to the London Review of Books.
Sir Stephen Sedley was appointed a high court judge in 1992, and a Lord Justice of Appeal in 1999.
For further information contact email@example.com or call 020 7955 7687
Thursday 4 June 2015 | 6.30pm | Moot Court Room, 7th Floor, New Academic Building
The U.K.’s First Woman Law Professor: an Archerian analysis.
Professor Fiona Cownie is Pro-Vice Chancellor (Education and Student Experience) at Keele University. Her research focuses on legal education. She has published widely in the area, including work on women in the law school and values in law teaching, as well as on the everyday dress of law teachers. Recently, she has become interested in the history of law schools, and in particular of legal academics. She is the author of Legal Academics: culture and identities (Hart, 2004) and co-author of A Great and Noble Occupation: the history of the Society of Legal Scholars (Hart, 2009). Her latest research project is an extended study of the biographies of early women law professors in the U.K.
In 1970, at Queen's University Belfast, Claire Palley became the first woman to hold a Chair in Law at a United Kingdom university. However, little is known about the circumstances surrounding this event, or Claire Palley herself. This article (part of an extended project exploring her life history) seeks to address the question ‘Was there something about Claire Palley herself that made it more likely she would become the United Kingdom's first female law professor?’ Initially focusing on method, it seeks to answer that question by utilizing, for the first time in the context of legal education, the theoretical perspective provided by the work of the sociologist Margaret Archer. Reflecting upon Claire Palley's subjectivity, it focuses on those aspects of her personality which enabled her to pursue a successful career and become a pioneer in her chosen profession.
Tuesday 20 October 2015 | 4-6pm Moot Court Room, 7th Floor, New Academic Building (Drinks reception 6pm)
Legal Life Writing: Marginalised subjects and sources
Legal biography or ‘life writing’ is an increasingly popular field of
scholarship but much work to date has focused on charting the lives of the
elite; most often white male judges and barristers. Scholarship in this field
has also been limited in its inter-disciplinary scope. This workshop will
discuss a new book, edited by Linda Mulcahy (LSE) and David Sugarman
(Lancaster) that explores the gaps in existing literature by focussing on the
lives of those usually marginalised or treated as outsiders. It also endeavours
to expand the range of sources it is considered legitimate to use when
researching legal lives. The collection aims to ignite debate about the nature
of the relationship between socio-legal studies and legal history; explore how
gaps in the existing literature can be filled when sources about the
marginalised are often scant; and challenge the methodologies employed in
conventional accounts of legal lives. It is argued that concepts of legal life
writing can and should be and reconstituted so that rather than being a
handmaiden of the elite it becomes a dangerous supplement to traditional
scholarship. Presentations about the book will be led by Professor Nicola
Lacey (LSE) and Professor Michael Lobban (LSE) and chaired by
Professor Phil Thomas (Journal of Law and Society).
Monday 9 March 2015 | 6.30pm | Room 2.13 New Academic Building
The Last Outlaw: Doing Duty over Jimmy Governor
Katherine Biber is a legal scholar, historian and criminologist at the University of Technology Sydney. She is author of Captive Images: Race, Crime, Photography (Routledge, 2007), and co-editor of The Lindy Chamberlain Case: Nation, Law, Memory (ASP, 2009, with M. Arrow and D. Staines). She currently holds an Australian Research Council Discovery grant for the project “Open Justice and Open Secrets: The Cultural Afterlife of Criminal Evidence”, which will be published as a book in 2016 under the title In Crime’s Archive (Routledge). She is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and Birkbeck School of Law.
This paper examines some of the archival records created and preserved in relation to the Australian Aboriginal outlaw, Jimmy Governor. Convicted of multiple murders on the eve of Australian Federation, Jimmy Governor, the Aboriginal serial killer and Australia’s last outlaw, was nevertheless given every protection under the law. Whilst most historical accounts of Governor focus upon his dreadful crimes, his ability to elude capture, and his eventual execution, this paper seeks to examine him through the law. The presentation will focus upon a special diary kept by the officers guarding him at Darlinghurst Gaol in 1900-1901 during his time in the condemned cell. It reflects upon the materiality of these records, and in so doing, it advances an argument about archival records as evidence of law, of duty, and of public administration. Whereas in the past Jimmy Governor’s story has primarily been told in the genre of law-breaking, this article proposes using archival records about Governor to reveal him as an agent of law-making. On the brink of Australian Federation, the Jimmy Governor case provides evidence of a commitment to the rule of law.
Tuesday 25 November 2014 | 6.30pm-8pm | Old Theatre, Old Building
On 25 November, as part of the Legal Biography project, Sir Ross Cranston will interview the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, about his career in the law. Called to the bar in 1969, Lord Thomas practised as a commercial barrister, becoming a QC in 1984, before his appointment as a judge in the Queen’s Bench Division in 1996. After being appointed to the Court of Appeal in 2008, he became President of the Queen’s Bench Division in 2011, In 2013, he succeeded Lord Judge as Lord Chief Justice, Head of Criminal Justice and President of the Courts of England and Wales.
>click here for audio recording of this event
Tuesday 28 October 2014 | 6.30pm | Moot Court Room, 7th Floor, New Academic Building
Slavery and Biographies at Jefferson's Monticello
Professor Annette Gordon-Reed (Harvard) will speak as part of Black History Month.
Annette Gordon-Reed is Charles
Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School and Harmsworth
Visiting Professor of American History in the University of Oxford. She is the
author of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy
(1997) and The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (2008), which
won the Pulitzer Prize in history and the National Book Award for Non Fiction.
She is also the author of Race on Trial: Law and Justice in American History
Thursday 6 March 2014 | 6.30pm-8pm | Thai Theatre, Lower Ground Floor, New Academic Building
In Conversation with the First Women Law Professors
In celebration of International Women’s Day the
Legal Biography Project is hosting a public lecture in which Professors Linda
Mulcahy and Fiona Cownie will interview Professors Brenda Barrett, Carol Harlow
and Dawn Oliver.
These three women were amongst the first women law professors ever to be appointed in the UK. The event will be followed by a drinks reception to mark the re-launch of the University of London Women in Law network.
click here for audio recording of this event
Tuesday 18 March 2014 | 6.30-8.00 pm | NAB2.16 (New Academic Building)
‘Neil MacCormick and Scotland’
Dr. Maksymillian Del Mar (Queen Mary, University
Tuesday 18 February 2014 | 6.30-8.00 pm | Moot Court Room (New Academic Building, 7th floor)
‘Late Medieval and Early Modern Legal Prosopography’
Sir John Baker (University of Cambridge)