Dr Joseph Spooner is an Associate Professor at LSE Law School. He researches issues of law, policy, and politics relating to household debt, over-indebtedness, and financialisation. He also takes particular interest in issues of dispute resolution and access to justice, with a focus on how law serves low-income groups. Joseph has published articles on the law and politics of bankruptcy in leading journals including the Journal of Law and Society and the Modern Law Review, and is the author of Bankruptcy: the Case for Relief in an Economy of Debt. This book explores the unsustainable nature of our contemporary debt-dependent economy, and argues that bankruptcy law is uniquely situated to offer public policy benefits as a mechanism of social insurance against the risks inherent in this economic order.
Joe researches in the Law-and-Society tradition, while incorporating contemporary elements of Modern Legal Realism and Law and Political Economy. He aims to explore law in its social context, and incorporates empirical approaches alongside theoretical perspectives and doctrinal critique. One research project uses qualitative methods including process tracing and content analysis to explore the political economy of bankruptcy law reform, and particularly the influence of interest groups in shaping legislation. Another project deploys quantitative methods to study aggressive debt collection techniques used by English local authorities to pursue local tax debts, finding that the most intensive debt recovery activities occur in the most deprived local authority areas.
A further way in which Joe’s work links research to the real world is in its policy impact. Joe has obtained policy experience through participation in various law reform projects. He has worked as a technical lead on World Bank policy reform project, and contributed to the Bank’s Report on the Treatment of the Insolvency of Natural Persons (2013). Joe contributed expertise to the UK Insolvency Service Review of the Personal Insolvency Framework, providing research content and leading a stakeholder consultation group. Joe also worked on the Law Reform Commission of Ireland’s project on personal debt management and debt enforcement (2010-2012), which developed important policy responses to the Global Financial Crisis.