Dr Emma Oakley

Dr Emma Oakley

Birmingham Law School
Lecturer in Law

Contact details

Address
Birmingham Law School
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

Dr Emma Oakley is Director of the Law School’s LLB Law with Criminology programme, teaching broadly in the areas of socio-legal studies, criminal justice and research methods. Her own research explores how people make sense of and use law in their everyday personal and working lives, what shapes this, and with what consequences. Emma draws on sociological and socio-legal ideas and methods to produce empirically-grounded, theoretically-informed accounts of the relationship between situated decision-making, formal and informal mechanisms of governance, such as law, policy and cultural norms, and the wider organisational and socio-political contexts in which people act. She is particularly interested in lay and practitioner decision-making in complex socio-legal arenas such as criminal justice, social welfare, legal education, and legal practice.

Emma is currently involved in research exploring the identities, ethics, and practices of corporate lawyers; defence lawyers’ use of judicial review to challenge magistrate court decisions; and how large corporate law firm recruiters interpret the value of LLM education.

Qualifications

  • PhD in Law (Bristol)
  • MSc Socio-Legal Studies (Bristol)
  • PGDip in Legal Practice (BPP, London)
  • PGDip in Law (BPP, London)
  • MA (Hons) Sociology (Edinburgh)

Biography

Emma holds an MA (Hons) undergraduate degree in Sociology from the University of Edinburgh, Postgraduate Diplomas in Law and Legal Practice (London), an MSc in Socio-Legal Studies (Bristol) and a PhD (ESRC funded) from the University of Bristol Law School. Emma additionally worked for many years in a wide variety of legal, educational, and third sector settings teaching, researching, and advising, as well as providing legal support. These broad-ranging experiences continue to aid her teaching and research.

Emma has experience teaching in the areas of Criminal Justice and Criminal Law, Criminology, Gender and Justice, Socio-Legal Theory, Socio-Legal Methods, Legal Skills and Methods, and Public Law.

Emma also retains a strong interest in public engagement and widening participation in university education. She tutored for a number of years on Bristol University’s ‘Pathways to Law’ Scheme, which encourages children from local disadvantaged families attending schools in deprived neighbourhoods to apply to and attend university, and more recently devised and led a well-received Aim Higher ‘Ethical Challenge’ workshop to West Midlands sixth-form students considering study at the University of Birmingham.

Emma also spent several years as a Citizens Advice Bureau Assessor and Advisor, and has delivered training to trainee Citizens Advice Bureau volunteer Assessors.

Research

Emma draws upon sociological and socio-legal ideas and methods to produce empirically-grounded, theoretically informed accounts of everyday legal decision-making, both lay and practitioner, and how this relates to the wider legal, cultural, organisational and social contexts in which people act. This nuanced, multi-layered law-in-action approach is intended to promote careful, critical reflection on current law, policy and practice, as well as stimulate realistic, imaginative, effective and equitable reform.

Having joined the School as Research Fellow in 2014-15, Emma continues to deploy similar techniques working with Dr Steven Vaughan on ESRC-funded research exploring the identities, ethics, and practices of corporate lawyers, as well as with other colleagues on projects examining defence lawyers’ use of judicial review to challenge magistrate court decisions, and how large corporate law firm recruiters interpret the value of LLM education.