Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Law

Contact Details

Professor Hilary Sommerlad

Professor of Law and Social Justice

I graduated from New Hall, Cambridge University with a History degree, and then took a PhD in Political Science from the University of York (where I also taught). I subsequently qualified and practised as a solicitor before returning to teach Law and develop socio-legal research at Leeds Beckett, Leicester and Birmingham Universities. I have held visiting positions at universities and research institutes in the CIS, Canada, the United States and Australia.

Research Interests

Legal professional culture, and the impact of macro level changes from the nature of the state and understandings of citizenship to the increasing diversity of people doing law work. I have completed funded projects on both professional diversity and access to justice.  I am currently editing a major international study of Lawyers in Society.


I am currently teaching Legal Pluralism on the 3rd Year Jurisprudence module. I have previously taught the Regulation of the Legal Profession (Module Leader); Criminal Law, Socio-Legal Theory (LLM), Socio-Legal Research Methods (LLM).

PhD Supervision

I have supervised four PhD theses to completion, and am willing to supervise in the following areas:

  • Continuity and change in the legal profession and legal professionalism
  • Diversity and the legal profession
  • Access to Justice: national and international perspectives

Key Publications


(with Ashley, L; Duberley, J)  A qualitative evaluation of non-educational barriers to the elite professions 2015 (Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, London)

(with Harris-Short, L; Vaughan, S & Young, R.) The Futures of Legal Education and the Legal Profession 2014 (Oxford, Hart Publishers) ISBN: 978-1-84946-655-4

(with Webley, L; Muzio, D; Tomlinson, J and Duff, L) Diversity in the legal profession in England and Wales: a qualitative study of barriers and individual choices 2013 (London, University of Westminster Law Press) ISBN: 978-0-9927330-0-1


“Developments in socio-legal studies: subjects and methodologies- the Anglo-Saxon model” Recht der Werkelijkheid 2015, 36 (1): 55-77

 “The ‘social magic’ of merit: diversity, equity and inclusion in the English and Welsh Legal Profession” Fordham Law Review (2015) 83: pp. 2325 -2347

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