Professor Erika Rackley

Professor Erika Rackley

Birmingham Law School
Professor of Law

Contact details

Birmingham Law School
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Erika Rackley's research focuses on judicial diversity, the nature of judging, gender equality in the legal profession and the legal regulation of pornography. Her research has shaped and informed policy and public debate and has been discussed by the UK and Scottish governments, in The Guardian , and on BBC Radio 4's Women's Hour and Law in Action. In 2015, she will be a British Academy Mid-Career Fellow during which time she will be undertaking a multi-disciplinary project examining the changing position of women in law.


  • LLB, Cardiff University
  • PhD, University of Kent


Erika Rackley joined Birmingham Law School in September 2014, having previously taught at the Universities of Kent, Leicester and Durham.


Erika Rackley's primary core-teaching interest is tort law, which she has led and taught at a number of institutions. She is co-author a leading textbook in this field for Oxford University Press ( Tort Law , 4 th edn, 2015). She has also led and taught a number of law and gender modules at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Topics on these modules have included the legal regulation of abortion, surrogacy, lesbian motherhood, same-sex partnerships, transgender rights, feminist judgment-writing and diversity in the legal professions/judiciary.

Postgraduate supervision

Erika Rackley is happy to supervise postgraduate research students in the following areas:

  • Equality and diversity in the judiciary and legal profession.
  • Judging, reasoning and (feminist) judgment-writing.
  • Legal regulation of pornography

Potential research students are welcome to contact her by email to discuss their research proposals prior to submitting an official application.


Erika Rackley has written widely on judicial diversity and judging, particularly in relation to the representation of women and the importance of difference-based arguments in the context of judicial diversity, supported by awards from the AHRC, ESRC, British Council and British Academy. Her book, Women, Judging and the Judiciary: From Difference to Diversity, won the Society of Legal Scholars Birks Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship in 2013. It argues that the key reason for a more diverse judiciary is that the introduction of a wider variety of backgrounds, perspectives and experiences into the judiciary leads to better judgments and judging and that, once this is understood, appointment on merit – far from being in opposition to efforts to increase judicial diversity – is its strongest ally. Erika regularly comments in the media on matters relating to judicial diversity and the impact of gender on judicial decision-making, including in The Guardian, and on the BBC’s Woman's Hour and Law in Action.

Erika's research (with Clare McGlynn, Durham University) on the legal regulation of extreme pornography has helped to shape and inform public debate (see research briefing here). Their argument that criminal sanctions for the possession of extreme pornography can be justified on the basis of its cultural harm has been discussed by the Scottish Parliament, as well as in The Guardian, the New Statesman and in the 2010 Sexualisation of Young People Home Office review. During 2012-2013, they worked closely with Rape Crisis (South London) and the End Violence Against Women (EVAW) on their campaign to ‘ban rape porn’, which led to a commitment by the Prime Minister in July 2013 to ‘clos[e] the loophole’ in the legislation, ‘making it a criminal offence to possess internet pornography that depicts rape’. Provisions to this effect are currently before Parliament in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill 2014.

Erika tweets at @erikarackley.

Selected research grants

  • 2014: British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship. Project title: ‘Women in Law: Beacons and Benchmarks’ (£115,500) (Jan-Dec 2015) (success rate: 15%).
  • 2009: AHRC Research Leave Scheme. Project title: ‘From Difference to Diversity: An Imaginative Critique of the Judicial Appointments Process in England and Wales’ (£16,689) (Jan-March 2009) (application rated A+ and success rate in 2008: 19%).
  • 2008: ESRC Grant. Project title: The Feminist Judgments Project (equal division of time with Rosemary Hunter (P-I) and Clare McGlynn (Co-I)) (£70, 202) (October 2008-January 2010) (success rate in 2007-2008: 24%; final report grade: ‘outstanding’).

Other activities

Erika is involved in a number of collaborations with other scholars as a member of the executive committee of the Equal Justices Initiative, as co-organiser of the ground-breaking Feminist Judgments Project and, more recently, through her co-leadership with Rosemary Auchmuty of the Women’s Legal Landmarks project.



  • Women, Judging and Judiciary: From Difference to Diversity (Routledge, 2013; pb 2014).
  • Tort Law (Oxford University Press, 1 st edn 2009, 2 nd edn 2011, 3 rd edn 2013, 4 th edn 2015) (with Kirsty Horsey).
  • Kidner’s Casebook on Torts (Oxford University Press, 2015) (co-authored with Kirsty Horsey).

Edited Collections

  • Feminist Perspectives on Tort Law (Routledge, 2012) (co-edited with Janice Richardson).
  • Feminist Judgments: From Theory to Practice (Hart Publishing, 2010) (co-edited with Rosemary Hunter and Clare McGlynn).


  • ‘Prosecuting the Possession of Extreme Pornography: A Misunderstood and Misused Law’ (2013) 5 Criminal Law Review 400-405.
  • ‘Why Feminist Legal Scholars Should Write Judgments: Reflections on the Feminist Judgments Project in England and Wales’, (2012) 24(2) Canadian Journal of Women and Law 389-413.
  • ‘In conversation with Lord Justice Etherton: revisiting the case for judicial diversity’ (2010) Public Law , Oct, 14-21.
  • ‘Criminalising Extreme Pornography: A Lost Opportunity’ (2009) Criminal Law Review 245-260 (with Clare McGlynn).
  • ‘Detailing Judicial Difference’ (2009) 17(1) Feminist Legal Studies 11-26.
  • ‘Judging Destricted : art, porn and the responsibility of judgment’ (2009) 20 Kings Law Journal 53-67(with Clare McGlynn & Ian Ward).
  • ‘What a Difference Difference Makes: Gendered Harms and Judicial Diversity’ (2008) 15 International Journal of the Legal Profession 31-50.
  • ‘Judicial Diversity, the Woman Judge and Fairy Tale Endings’ (2007) 27(1) Legal Studies 74-94.
  • ‘Striking a Balance: Arguments for the Criminal Regulation of Extreme Pornography’ (2007) Criminal Law Review 677-690 (with Clare McGlynn).
  • ‘From Arachne to Charlotte: An Imaginative Revisiting of Gilligan’s In a Different Voice ’(2007) 13(3) William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law 751-774.
  • ‘Difference in the House of Lords’ (2006) 15(2) Social and Legal Studies 163-185.
  •  ‘When Hercules met the Happy Prince: Re-Imagining the Judge’ (2005) 12 Texas Wesleyan Law Review 213-232.
  • ‘Reassessing Portia: The Iconic Potential of Shakespeare’s Woman Lawyer’ (2003) 11(1) Feminist Legal Studies 25-44.
  • ‘Representations of the (Woman) Judge: Hercules, the Little Mermaid and the vain and naked Emperor’ (2002) 22(4) Legal Studies 602-624.

 Book chapters

  • ‘Rethinking Judicial Diversity’ in Gender and Judging , Ulrike Schultz & Gisela Shaw (eds) (Hart Publishing, 2013) pp 501-519.
  •  ‘Introduction’ (with Janice Richardson) in Feminist Perspectives on Tort Law , Janice Richardson & Erika Rackley (ed) (Routledge, 2012) pp 1-13.
  •  ‘The Art and Craft of Judgment Writing: Notes on the Feminist Judgments Project’ in Feminist Judgments: From Theory to Practice , Rosemary Hunter, Clare McGlynn and Erika Rackley (ed) (Hart Publishing, 2010) pp. 44-56.
  • ‘Feminist Judgments: An Introduction’ (co-authored with Rosemary Hunter and Clare McGlynn) in Rosemary Hunter, Clare McGlynn & Erika Rackley Feminist Judgments: From Theory to Practice (Hart Publishing, 2010) pp. 3-29.
  • ‘Judging Isabella: Justice, Care and Relationships in Measure for Measure ’ In Shakespeare and Law ,Paul Raffield and Gary Watt (eds) (Hart Publishing, 2008) pp. 65-79.

Public policy reports and evidence

  • Written evidence to Joint Committee on Human Rights on Criminal Justice and Courts Bill 2014 (March 2014) (with Clare McGlynn).
  • Written evidence to House of Commons Public Bill Committee on Criminal Justice and Courts Bill 2014 (March 2014) (with Clare McGlynn).
  • Written evidence to Irish Government’s Consultation on ‘A Review of Procedures for Appointment as a Judge’ (Jan 2014).
  • Written evidence to Ministry of Justice ‘Appointments and Diversity: ‘A Judiciary for the 21st Century’ consultation (Feb 2013) (joint submission with members of the Equal Justices Initiative).
  • Oral and written evidence to House of Lords Committee on the Constitution, Inquiry into the Judicial Appointment Process (July 2011), pp165-185; 514-519; 186-195(joint submission with members of the Equal Justice Initiative).
  • Written evidence to Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Diversity (Sept 2009).
  • Written evidence to Scottish Parliament, Justice Committee, Criminal Justice and Licensing (2009) (with Clare McGlynn).

 Media contributions

  • A Ms Justice in the high court - at last the judiciary starts to catch up. The Guardian , 22 May 2014.
  • ‘Why criminalise the possession of rape pornography’ New Statesman , 12 February 2014 (with McGlynn).
  • ‘Law against rape porn must do more to address cultural harm’ The Conversation 11 February 2014 (with Clare McGlynn).
  • ‘The Neuberger Experiment’, Law in Action , BBC Radio 4, 18 June 2013.
  • ‘Judgment day for gender: is diversity crucial in court?’ The Conversation , 18 June 2013.
  •  ‘So, Lord Sumption says to be patient - we'll have a diverse bench in 2062’ The Guardian , 20 November 2012.
  •  ‘So Butler-Sloss, our women and ethnic minority lawyers aren't up to the job?’ The Guardian , 31 May 2012.
  • ‘Is judging influenced by gender?’ Woman’s Hour ,BBC Radio 4, discussion with Her Honour Judge Isobel Plumsted, 16 May 2011.
  • ‘We need a more diverse Supreme Court’ The Guardian , 29 March 2011.
  • ‘How Feminism Could Improve Judicial Decision-Making’ The Guardian , 11 November 2010.