For our centenary, we asked colleagues which pieces of academic work by fellow LSE Law staff they most admired. Below is a selection of their comments:
A G Griffith's Politics of the Judiciary. Took on liberal assumptions about law and power. Located the judges as part of the State rather than separate from it. Written in a vivid style which was both learned and immediately accessible.
Simon Roberts, A Court in the City. Civil and Commercial Litigation at the Beginning of the 21st Century (London, Wildy, Simmonds & Hill Publishing, 2013).This book follows from Simon’s earlier work and provides some explanation as to his escape from what he called the grim corpus of English case law. That escape led to research on disputes, began as a young lecturer in what was Nyasaland. The book also builds on his work on mediation which he undertook with his wife, Marian and with Professor Michael Palmer of SOAS. In this book a small civil court in the City of London offers the site for Simon’s exploration of some recurrent concerns. The book starts with what Simon calls the heritage dimensions of the administration of justice, the history and architecture of the court. A major theme is the movement away from the hegemonic state and how that has been dealt with by social theorists. This has implications for the transformation, as Simon sees it, from the neoclassical model of justice – the imposed third party decision – to the greater role for the negotiated settlement. This was Simon’s last book, published just prior to his untimely death. It throws a perceptive light on the administration of justice. It also reminds us of Simon’s range as a scholar and his engagement with both theory and practical concerns.
Kai Moller’s The Global Model of Constitutional Rights (Oxford University Press, 2012). It is an exceptionally ambitious book, but has succeeded in providing an attractive liberal-democratic foundation for constitutional rights. It has rightly become a first reference point in this area of scholarship and beyond.
Andy Summers for his forthcoming OJLS article 'Common-sense Causation in the Law'. In it, Andy uses the results of experimental research into causal selection to reconsider principles of causation in the law. It's a bold attempt to broaden the parameters of private law thinking; it sets up a challenge to produce un-blinkered scholarship, that is richer for the engagement that it makes with other fields of research. If private lawyers can be criticised for navel-gazing, Andy's article is an example of what can be accomplished when we redraw the parameters for critical reflection.
Mike Redmayne, 'Exploring the Proof Paradoxes' (2008) 14 Legal Theory 281. At the beginning of my career I thought that for an academic article to be valuable it had to provide a solution to a problem. Mike Redmayne’s scholarship taught me that this is not true. An article can be ground-breaking and provide no solution whatsoever. This happens when the article draws attention to an important problem previously ignored or – and this is the case with 'Exploring the Proof Paradoxes' – when it analyses a known problem in an innovative and illuminating way.
Helen Reece, 'The Paramountcy Principle' (1996) 49 Current Legal Problems 267.In 1996, Helen Reece’s denunciation of the paramountcy principle in Current Legal Problems was genuinely startling. The Children Act 1989 had come into force five years previously, and it had not occurred to anyone, other than Helen, to query its central organising principle, namely that whenever a court makes a decision about a child’s upbringing, the child’s welfare should be its paramount consideration. Helen’s piece was not contrarianism for its own sake, however. It was careful, persuasive and compassionate, and must now be considered one of the foundational texts of modern British family law. It was published around the time that I became friends with Helen, and it also reminds me of Helen delivering her razor-sharp criticism of my own writing, often over lunch at Wagamama in Bloomsbury.What makes it an inspiring essay are the same qualities that made Helen such a remarkable and admirable academic: it is incisive, rigorous and fearless.
Julia Black’s Critical Reflections on Regulation, published in 2002 in the Australian Journal of Legal Philosophy and recently reissued in Crime and Regulation (F. Haines ed.), irreversibly changed the field of regulation studies. Unshackling regulation and rule-making from its exclusive association with state power, Julia articulated a ‘decentred’ approach to regulation, which draws our attention to regulation’s complex and fragmented nature. Once ‘decentred’, regulation not as a singular ‘product’ created and imposed by the state, but is the culmination of information and standards, drawn from diverse bodies of knowledge, conveyed by a combination of public and private actors via multiple channels of persuasive and mandatory communication. Julia’s work caused regulations scholars across the world to revisit conventional assumptions about what regulation was and how it worked, and to explore new paths towards understanding the relation between regulation and society.
I cannot choose just one book. So many have inspired and informed me over the years. Indeed to make even a selection of books, I have excluded the work of my criminal law/criminal justice colleagues, each of whom has written things which I deeply admire.My selection falls into four categories.First, a book which influenced my teaching: Carol Harlow and Rick Rawlings’ Law and Administration saved my sanity when I was teaching (with rather scant qualifications…!) administrative law in Oxford in the 1980s, reassuring me that I could find a path through the burgeoning case law without losing sight of the institutional and political context in which the subject was developing.Second, four books which spoke to my own research at the time, and – along with their authors – kept mecompany as I tussled with projects on, respectively, feminist legal theory; legal biography; and the history of concepts of responsibility and character: Emily Jackson’s Regulating Reproduction, which set a new standard for socio-legal and theoretically astute scholarship in medical law and ethics; Neil Duxbury’s Frederick Pollock and the English Juristic Tradition – compulsory reading for anyone interested in the history of legal thought ; Martin Loughlin’s magisterial The Idea of Public Law; and Mike Redmayne’s bold and authoritative Character in the Criminal Trial. (The last three, as it happens, books with covers among the most stylish in the business…) Third, two books which represent for me the enrichment of law departments and legal scholarship in recent years by the loosening of intellectual and geographical boundaries, particularly within Europe, which has opened up a much greater engagement with comparative method: Jacco Bomhoff’s subtle Balancing Constitutional Rights; and Solene Rowan’s incisive Remedies for Breach of Contract. Last but not least, there is so much yet to come: I am particularly looking forward to Insa Koch’s Personalizing the State and to Joseph Spooner’s Bankruptcy: The Case for Relief in an Economy of Debt – two books which promise to speak to our times in the most compelling way.
A first, very personal, reason to nominate Patterns of American Jurisprudence is because it was the first book I ever read written by someone at LSE Law. Or at least: by someone who was at LSE Law when I read it, since Neil Duxbury actually wrote the book while at the University of Manchester (I did say this was a personal reason). For a while, then, Patterns of American Jurisprudence made up the full extent of my idea of what scholarship and writing at LSE looked like. This proved a daunting picture. ‘[I]mmense fun to read – a treasure house of observation, gossip, insight and citation’, said the sleeve note by Robert W. Gordon. Neil Duxbury’s book has proven inspirational especially for its commitment to complexity and nuance in jurisprudence and history. In a field dominated by ‘over-dramatic’ histories of oscillations between a set of basic themes, this book is steadfast in its refusal to uncover anything less than ‘complex patterns of ideas’. As Neil Duxbury reminds us: ‘Jurisprudential ideas are rarely born; equally rarely do they die’. They do have histories, though. '[And] jurisprudence is a much more enlightening and engaging enterprise when it focuses on those histories'. And, of course, when it does not leave out all that gossip.
The first book with my name on its spine was published in 1985. Half A Century of Municipal Decline, 1935-1985 (co-edited with Young and Gelfand), was designed as a sequel to Laski, Jennings and Robson eds, A Century of Municipal Progress (1935). My first monograph appeared in the following year: Local Government in the Modern State may have had a rather different orientation but it surely took its cue from Jennings’s book, Local Government in the Modern Constitution from 1931. And in 1996 I synthesised recent developments in central-local government relations in a work called Legality and Locality: The Role of Law in Central-Local Government Relations. That study examined post-1979 developments in detail, but the foundations had been laid in John Griffith’s Central Departments and Local Authorities (1966). Influence? Inspiration? Go figure.