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Centre for Empirical Legal Studies

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The Centre for Empirical Legal Studies comprises 6 members within the Faculty of Laws

Professor Nigel Balmer (Co-director)

Nigel Balmer is Honorary Professor at the Faculty of Laws. He is an expert in social science and statistical methods, and has considerable experience of their application in an empirical legal context. He has a particular interest in access to justice, law and health and decision making.

Dr Elaine Genders

Elaine Genders is a Reader in Criminology in the Faculty of Laws. Her interests include the sociologyof prisons, violent crime, the interface between criminology and law, and race, sex and criminal justice. She has been a special advisor to the Home Office on therapeutic prison regimes, as well as a cold reviewer (part of the auditing of the Audit Commission procedure) of two Audit Commission Reports on the Government’s performance in relation to imprisonment.

Professor Dame Hazel Genn 

Dame Hazel Genn is Professor of Socio-Legal Studies, an Honorary Fellow of UCL and one of the world’s foremost empirical legal scholars. With a background in both sociology and law, she is an authority on civil justice processes, from both ‘bottom up’ and ‘top down’ perspectives. She was the Law and Society Association Scholar of Distinction in 2005.

Professor Rob George

Rob George researches mainly in the areas of child and family law. Much of his research uses qualitative methodologies to explore the application of the law in practice, sometimes complemented by quantitative research considering patterns of case outcomes. With a background in law and social policy, Dr George is particularly experienced with qualitative interviews and focus groups, having led numerous studies using these methods with judges, lawyers, and court users. 

Dr Karen Nokes

Dr Karen Nokes is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Laws, a non-practising solicitor and former Director at the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Karen has used both qualitative and quantative methods in her work and has particular expertise in conducting empirical research using quasi-experimental methods such as social judgement analysis. Karen's research is interdisciplinary, spanning law, business and management, and psychology and her research interests include access to justice, behavioural ethics and the psychological processes of judgement and decision making within professional organisations.

Professor Cheryl Thomas

Professor Cheryl Thomas has conducted ground-breaking research in the United Kingdom and other jurisdictions on juries, judicial decision-making, the role of diversity in the justice system, and the appointment and training of judges. Professor Thomas is the country’s leading expert on juries and has pioneered the study of jury decision-making in the criminal courts this country, using an innovative approach that combines case simulation with real jurors at Crown Courts, large-scale analysis of actual jury verdicts and post-verdict interviews with jurors.

Professor Pascoe Pleasence (Co-director)

Pascoe Pleasence is Professor of Empirical Legal Studies at UCL, and a former advisor to the Legal Services Commission of England and Wales. He is a leading expert on empirical legal research methodologies and has a particular interest in the legal profession, the public experience of law and access to justice. 

Dr Michael Veale

Dr Michael Veale conducts empirical research on the effect and enforcement of information, technology and Internet law on-the-ground. His recent research with an empirical legal dimension has showed the large-scale non-compliance of data protection and privacy law through scraping and analysing 10,000 UK websites; presented a critical guide for how to use subject access rights as an empirical research method; and used experimental methods to understand individuals’ views on regulated automated decisions. He has authored and co-authored a range of policy reports, including on international law and electoral cybersecurity for the Commonwealth Secretariat (2020) and on Algorithms in the Criminal Justice System for the Law Society of England and Wales (2019).