Richard spent the first 14 years of his legal life at Birmingham, taking a first class Honours degree in law in 1985 and a PhD in 1989, before holding the posts successively of Research Fellow, Lecturer and Senior Lecturer. In 1997 he moved to the University of Oxford as Fellow in Law at Pembroke College and Lecturer in Criminology at the Centre for Criminological Research. He later became Assistant Director of the Centre and Reader in Criminal Justice. In 2006, he moved to a chair in Law and Policy Research at the University of Bristol, before returning to the University of Birmingham as Professor of Law and Policy in 2013. He has also been Visiting Professor at the University of South Carolina (1996) and at the University of Missouri at Kansas City (1999).
His research projects have been funded by the Nuffield Foundation, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Home Office, the Legal Services Commission, the Northern Ireland Court Service, the Legal Aid Board and the SLSA. Having spent seven years studying restorative justice, his most recent empirical projects have concerned legal aid decision-making and judicial review of magistrates' decisions. Richard retired on 18 September 2021 and is now Emeritus Professor.