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UCL Faculty of Laws

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Empirical legal studies

Judges, courts, the professions, access to justice

UCL Laws examines the practices of law-makers and legal professionals and their relationships with users of legal systems (‘clients’), incorporating ground-breaking empirical research about the judiciary, access to justice, lawyers, and public perceptions of, and access to, justice.

Our staff interested in this theme look at judicial decision-making processes and how to achieve a more diverse and representative judiciary, and examine pressing issues such as access to justice. They are devoted to understanding and improving the judicial process, as well as to understanding the civil justice system and public use of the legal system. Research in this area considers the role of diversity in the justice system, lawyers' ethics and work practices, and looks at extending the methods used in access to justice, including better theorising and means of measuring ‘legal capability’.

It also provides a public forum to address key issues facing judges and courts worldwide. Our academics conduct comparative judicial research and undertake empirical research on perceptions of tribunals and the fairness of tribunal decision-making, as well as the law and practice of regional and international courts and tribunals.

Under this theme, the UCL Centre for Access to Justice combines legal education with the provision of pro bono advice to vulnerable communities, while UCL’s Centre for Ethics and Law promotes and enhances collaboration between interest groups around the broad themes of professional ethics, the ethics of risk, and corporate governance. UCL’s Centre for Empirical Legal Studies brings together interdisciplinary experts across the social sciences, to explore research with a bearing on law, and the UCL Judicial Institute is dedicated to research, teaching and policy engagement about the judiciary.