Prof Pascoe Pleasence
Professor of Empirical Legal Studies
Faculty of Laws
- Joined UCL
- 1st May 2007
Pascoe Pleasence is a leading international expert in social science research methods, access to justice and legal capability.
His research is primarily focused on issues of access to justice; also extending to the methods used in this field. Following his successful stewardship of the English and Welsh Civil and Social Justice Survey, much of his recent work has continued to concern the design, development and analysis of data from 'legal needs' surveys (surveys of citizen and business experience of legal problems). Currently, he is reviewing practice across (now more than 50) past and ongoing national surveys to produce guidance and models for future practice (to be published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in collaboration with the Open Society Foundations). This is building upon his earlier review of practice (published in 2013), funded by the Nuffield Foundation.
Building on his recent report (with the Law and Justice Foundation of New South Wales) framing future research needs - to build upon the findings of legal needs surveys - his current research also has a focus on the better theorising and means of measuring 'legal capability'. This has led to the recent development of a small set of standardised legal capability measures - using modern psychometric methods - and continued work to refine and expand these for use in relation to specific legal problems and populations.
Professor Pleasence's past research has also involved a number of projects exploring the work and profitability of law firms, the impact on Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) interventions on solicitors' clients, the prevalence and patterns of use of solicitor advice by police station detainees, the impact of formal advice. These projects include a government funded study of the impact of early stage telephone debt advice, which pioneered the use of randomised control trials in a legal advice setting in the UK.
Away from the law, Professor Pleasence has also seen the publication of a joint analysis of Olympic performance data, aimed at separating the impact of technological and technical revolution from general improvements in performance.
Professor Pleasence is convenor of the 'Law and Social Inquiry' (final-year) LLB module and the 'Legal Needs and Legal Assistance' LLM module.
He also participates in UCL's PhD training programme, as well as supervising research students. Past PhD students have investigated subjects including the theory and practice of integrated legal service delivery, and young people, civil justice and the Internet.
- City University
- Dip. Law, Law | 1990
- University of Cambridge
- M.Phil, Criminology | 1989
- University College London
- BA Hons, Philosophy | 1987
Pascoe Pleasence is Professor of Empirical Legal Studies and co-director of the Centre for Empirical Legal Studies in the UCL Faculty of Laws. He is a leading international expert in social science research methods, with special interest in access to justice, legal capability (of the public), and the structure of the legal profession and legal services market. He has authored more than 80 books, reports and academic papers, and his work has been cited by the House of Lords (now Supreme Court). Reflecting the breadth of his work, his publications have traversed a wide range of academic fields; including geography, information science, psychology, social epidemiology, disability, public health, public policy, the sociology of race and ethnicity, as well as various fields of law.
He has extensive policy-research experience, as Head of the Legal Services Research Centre (1996-2009) (where he led the development of the English and Welsh Civil and Social Justice Survey) and then Academic and Scientific Adviser to the Legal Services Commission of England and Wales (2009-2011). He has advised and been involved in the development of access to justice related research across an extensive range of jurisdictions, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, India, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Taiwan, and the United States; as well as helping to develop the access to justice module of the World Justice Project's influential General Population Poll.
He is currently working with the Open Society Foundations and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to produce definitive guidance for the framing and conduct of legal needs surveys, to support global access to justice initiatives and progress under the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goal 16.
Prior to being called to the Bar in 1992, he was awarded degrees in philosophy (UCL) and criminology (Cambridge). He is a fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, a member of the International Group of Experts on the Measurement of Access to Justice, the International Legal Aid Group and International Working Group on Civil Justice and Dispute Resolution.
Away from the law, he is a keen musician, swimmer and surfer. For a time he was also a Surf Life Saver on Queenscliff Beach, Sydney.