Dr Steven Vaughan


Birmingham Law School

Steven Vaughan

Contact details

Birmingham Law School
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT


Steven Vaughan researches the legal profession, corporate finance and environmental law. He spent almost a decade as a solicitor in the City of London advising multinational companies, governments, the UN and the World Bank.

As an academic, Steven has given advice to the European Parliament and worked with the British Standards Institute to develop the world’s first publicly accredited standard for companies on the regulation of nanotechnologies. In 2012, Steven gave a talk at the Hay Festival on controlling risks to the public from nanotechologies. A recording of his talk can be heard here on the Hay Festival website and downloaded as a podcast. He is currently an ESRC Future Research Leader, working on a funded 3 year project that explores the nature and extent of advice provided by corporate lawyers.

Feedback and office hours


In the first semester of 2014-2015, my Office and Feedback Hours will be Wednesdays, 10am -12pm, in my office (Room 106, Law School)
Students are welcome to see me during these hours without an appointment. If you need to see me outside these hours, please email me (s.vaughan@bham.ac.uk) to arrange another time, or just knock on my door (although I can't guarantee that I'll be available)



  • 2005 – [current]: Solicitor of the Senior Courts of England & Wales
  • 2008 - 2014: PhD, Cardiff University (part time)
  • 2007 – 2008: MSc in Social Science Research Methods, Research and Graduate School, Cardiff University
  • 2002 – 2003: Diploma in Legal Practice, Nottingham Law School
  • 1999 – 2002: MA(Oxon) Jurisprudence, Corpus Christi College, Oxford University


Steven did his law degree at Oxford University and then worked as a solicitor in the City for 9 years, first with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and then with Latham & Watkins. While in practice, he advised clients on environmental risks arising from the merger and acquisition of multinational corporations and on leveraged and project finance deals.

Steven has previously held lectureships at Cardiff University and the University of Bristol. He joined Birmingham Law School in September 2013. While at Cardiff he was presented with the 2012 ‘Enriching Student Life Award’. At Bristol, he won the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law award for Outstanding Teaching.


Postgraduate supervision

Steven would welcome approaches from students interested in doctoral study in the following broad areas:


  • regulation of the legal profession, lawyers and lawyering (in particular on legal ethics, diversity and legal education)
  • corporate finance, company law and corporate governance
  • environmental law (in particular on new technologies, contaminaed land and chemicals regulation)

He has previously supervised Joanne Hawkins, whose thesis considered public engagement opportunities for communities affected by fracking.


Steven’s research interests lie broadly in regulation and governance of three fields: the legal profession, corporate finance and environmental law. His work to date has explored the role of environmental solicitors on corporate finance deals, the regulation of business innovation in the context of new technologies, the framing of land use and redevelopment via the contaminated land regime, the shaping and development of EU chemicals law and the management of diversity in large law firms. He is keen to take a variety of approaches to his work and has experience of empircial data collection and analysis.

Steven has given advice to the European Parliament and worked with the British Standards Institute to develop the world’s first publicly accredited standard for companies on the regulation of nanotechnologies. He is currently an ESRC Future Research Leader, working on a funded 3 year project that explores the nature and extent of advice provided by corporate lawyers.

Other activities

In the Law School, Steven is Director of Education in the Centre for Professional Legal Education and Training and the Director of Careers.

Away from the Law School, Steven Chairs the Joint Academic Stage Board and is on the Education and Training Committee of the Solicitors Regulation Authority. He also sat on the Steering Panel of the Legal Education and Training Review research phase (2010-2012).


Academic Journal Papers (Refereed)

  • 2013:(with Stokes, E.) ‘Great Expectations: 50 Years of Chemicals Legislation in the EU’, 25(3) Journal of Environmental Law, 411-435
  • 2013: (with Lee, R.G) ‘Regulated Utilities and the Justiciability of Claims in Nuisance’, Journal of Business Law, 2, 196-209
  • 2010: ‘The Contaminated Land Regime: Still Suitable For Use?’,  Journal of Planning and Environment Law, 2, 142-156
  • 2010: (with Lee, R, G.)  ‘The Contaminated Land Regime in England and Wales and the Corporatisation of Environmental Lawyers’, International Journal of the Legal Profession, 16(2), 163-185
  • 2010: (with Lee, R, G.) ‘REACHing Down: Nanomaterials and Chemical Safety in the EU’, Journal of Law, Innovation and Technology, 2(2), 193-217

Chapters in Edited Books

  • 2011: ‘Elite and Elite-Lite Interviewing: Managing our Industrial Legacy’ in Researching Sustainability: A Guide to Social Science Methods, Practice and Engagement, Franklin, A. & Blyton, P. (eds), Earthscan, London, 2011

Academic Journal Papers (Not Refereed)

  • 2009: Fit for Purpose? The Progress of Part 2A to Date, Environmental Law Monthly, 18(3), 2- 4
  • 2007: There's a light at the end of the tunnel: The future of nuclear power in the UK, Bloomberg European Company Law Journal, Quarter 3, 468 – 473
  • 2007: (with Mulliken, D.) It isn't easy being green: Environmental due diligence concerns for private equity investors, International Finance Law Review, February, 24 – 25

Research Reports for Public Bodies

  • 2013: PAS 137, 'Nanomaterials and nanotechnology-based products. Guide to regulation and standards', British Standards Institute (named contributor)
  • 2008: Legal Implications of the Nord StreamProject, A Report for the Committee of Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament (named contributor)

Reviews of Single Academic Books

  • 2014: 'Law as Engineering' (Book Review), Legal Studies, 34(2), 353-358
  • 2012: ‘The Toxic Substances Control Act: A Practical Guide’ (Book Review), Journal of Environmental Law, 24, 581 – 584
  • 2011: ‘Lawyers in Corporate Decision Making’ (Book Review), Journal of Law and Society, 38(3) (2011) 463 – 468
  • 2007: "Law, Infrastructure and Human Rights" (Book Review), Journal of Law and Society, 34(4), 650 – 653

Media Contributions

  • 2012: ‘Laying Down the Law on Nanotechnology’, The Guardian, 11 June 2012
  • 2008: ‘Chemical Reaction’, Legal Week, 10(24), 16 – 17
  • 2008 : (with Lee, R.G.) ‘Within REACH’, The Chemical Engineer, June, 20 – 21 (75% contribution)

Conference Contributions

  • 2014: 'Legal Risk' - May 2014, UCL Centre for Law and Ethics, London
  • 2014: 'Corporate Counsel and Corporate Scandals: The Limits of Lawyers' - March 2014, Kelley Institute of Law and Ethics, Michigan State University, USA
  • 2014: 'Being Gay at the English Bar' - March 2014, Triangle Bar Association, College of Law, Michigan State University, USA
  • 2014: 'Making Money from Legal Education' - March 2014, Entrepreneurial Lawyering Workshop, Lansing, Michigan, USA
  • 2014: 'The Ethics of Environmental Lawyers' - February 2014, University of Oxford
  • 2012: ‘Size Matters: Responsible Innovation and New Technologies’ - June 2012, Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye
  • 2011: ‘Commodifying Sexuality? LGBT Groups in Law Firms’ - June 2011, Law & Society Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, USA
  • 2010: ‘Mind the Gap: Building Bridges to Legislate Nanosubstances’ - November 2010, Regulating Risk in New Technologies, University College, London
  • 2010: ‘REACHing Down: Nanotechnology and EU Chemical Regulation’ - June 2010, Standing Group on Regulatory Governance, Third Biennial Conference, University College, Dublin
  • 2010: ‘The Changing Nature of British Environmental Lawyers’ - May 2010, Law & Society Association Annual Meeting, Chicago, USA
  • 2009: ‘REACHing for the stars? EU Chemicals Regulation and Nanotechnology’ - University of Massachusetts (Amherst), US Environmental Protection Agency Conference on Nanotechnology
  • 2009: ‘The Future of Environmental Law’ - BPP Law School, London
  • 2008: ‘REACH and the Technology Sector’ - AGM of the American Electronics Association, Brussels

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