Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Law

CIRLE: Centre for Innovation and Research in Legal Education

Advancing Understandings of Education and the Professions in Criminal Justice and Law

In this Section:

Our vision

To establish the Law School as an international leader for innovation and research in legal education and criminal justice education. The Centre will seek to develop and disseminate evidence based teaching innovation and produce high quality and impactful research.


Through the Centre, the School of Law at the University of Leeds aims to establish a leading reputation for its commitment to excellence in student education, underpinned by world class scholarship and informed by field defining research produced by Centre members. Legal and Criminal Justice Education at Leeds comprises education at all stages in criminology, criminal justice and all aspects of law and socio-legal studies. Thus, the  Centre aims to deliver innovation and world class research and practice in legal and criminal justice education, which will have a transformative impact both within the School of Law at Leeds and internationally.

The Centre is the School’s ‘think tank’ – the driver and enabler of best practice and innovation. Through innovative evidence-based developments in pedagogic practice, we seek to transform our understanding of, and scholarship in, legal and criminal justice education, and the points of intersection between these disciplines. We identify and address key questions in university education in Law and Criminal Justice, and the wider legal services and criminal justice sectors through cutting edge research. We explore the role that educational innovation can play in supporting the development of confident, critical, creative thinkers with an acute understanding of their role and responsibilities within a global community.

Strategic themes

Through research and educational innovation, the Centre addresses the following key concerns:

  • What is the defining role and purpose of a University Law School education in the contemporary HE landscape, graduate marketplace and broader society?
  • What will be the core features of the globalized communities and professional sectors in which University graduates of Law and Criminology/Criminal Justice might live and work in the short, medium and longer-term
  • What will be the key features of the attributes, identities, professional and ethical values and knowledge base of those who will make a successful contribution in these fields?
  • What are the educational environments, processes and practices that support (and/or challenge) the development of these characteristics, and meet the objectives of a University Education?

Current project themes

A key dimension of all of these current project themes is the ability to engage across education, pedagogic research, co-curricular activities and other research projects and objectives:

  • Student Well-being: Confidence and Resilience (with particular reference to enhancing resilience through pedagogic method); Student Transitions (including student support), Employability and Research on Professional Identity Formation; the journey through the programmes from different educational routes.
  • Enhanced Learning: how can methods, such as lecture capture and other digital learning approaches, be utilised to produce more effective, inspirational learning environments; how do we enhance elements of skills delivery through programme content; enhancing academic scholarship at undergraduate level; understanding how international curriculum and experiences can enhance student learning and academic learning.
  • Professional identity and Student orientation towards the Legal Profession (including connections with Employability work, Links to Transitions etc); A series of research projects including work which explores the relationship between Higher Education  and the professions.
  • The Centre also leads on the enhancement and development aspects of the School’s programmes, for example working closely with Programme Directors in relation to external benchmarks. This includes work in relation to proposed changes to legal education and training through research, consultation responses and continued innovations in the development and delivery of the LLB, and close engagement with the Learning and Teaching Network of the British Society of Criminology.

Student experience and outreach activities

Pathways to Law

The School of Law at the University of Leeds has been awarded further funding to support the development and expansion of the Sutton Trust’s Pathways to Law programme.

Thousands of aspiring lawyers from non-privileged homes across the country will benefit from a £1m expansion of the Sutton Trust’s Pathways to Law programme, a pioneering initiative designed to widen access to the legal profession. For the first time, the programme, which is funded by the Legal Education Foundation, nine leading law firms and the partner universities, will provide support for GCSE students in years 10 and 11, as well as throughout sixth form.

Pathways to Law, targeted at academically able pupils from non-privileged homes, is delivered by 12 partner universities across the country, including the University of Leeds.

For further information, please contact the Programme Co-ordinator – Herabans Kaur (email: H.Kaur@leeds.ac.uk, tel: 0113 343 8081)

Legal Advice Clinics

Students across the School can apply to be involved with a range of clinical legal education activities, all of which are designed to offer genuine assistance to the local community and to enhance the skills of our volunteers. The School currently supports the following Legal Advise Clinics:

  • Family, Housing and Employment clinics: students in any year can volunteer to work alongside solicitors and barristers in providing free legal advice to members of the public, all of whom are referred to the clinics via trusted local community organisations and charities. We currently work with a number of firms and chambers to provide advice in family, housing and employment law, and will soon be offering clinics focused upon consumer law and wills.

  • Welfare Rights Clinics: students in years two and above can volunteer to work with Leeds City Council in supporting Personal Independent Payment (PIP) applicants. Many applicants need assistance in understanding and completing PIP forms: students are trained to complete the forms on a one-to-one basis with clients, thereby ensuring clients can submit the best possible case for welfare support.

  • Personal Support Unit: students in years two and above are trained by the Personal Support Unit, a national charity, to provide support to litigants in person in the local courts. 

For more information about the clinics, including opportunities for current law students to volunteer at the Legal Advice clinics, please email legaladviceclinic@leeds.ac.uk

Gauthier de Beco
Lecturer in Disability Law
Rights to inclusive education, and disability discrimination law
Tel: 0113 343 1160
Email: G.deBeco@leeds.ac.uk

Lydia Bleasdale-Hill
Associate Professor
Clinical Legal Education, Student Well-Being, Legal Education
Tel: 0113 343 5026
Email: l.k.bleasdalehill@leeds.ac.uk

Professor Andrew Francis 
Professor of Law
Legal Profession; Regulation, Social Mobility and Diversity of the Legal Profession, Professional Legal Ethics, Access to Justice, Legal Education, Legal Services Change and Organisations
Tel: 0113 343 9938
Email: A.M.Francis@leeds.ac.uk

Ms Marika Hildebrandova
Education Service Officer (Student Support)
Tel: 0113 343 5065
Email: M.Hildebrandova@leeds.ac.uk

Mrs Sarah Humphreys
Co-ordinator: Legal Advice Clinics
Tel: 0113 343 8013
Email: S.E.Humphreys@leeds.ac.uk

Miss Herabans Kaur
Educational and Community Development Officer
Tel: 0113 343 8081
Email: H.Kaur@leeds.ac.uk

Professor Joan Loughrey
Professor of Law
Regulation of the legal profession and of conduct in financial services, legal professional privilege.
Tel: 0113 3437158
Email: j.m.loughrey@leeds.ac.uk

Dr Richard Peake
Lecturer in Criminology & Criminal Justice and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
Diverse pathways to University, Student progression, attainment and retention
Tel: 0113 343 8261
Email: r.peake@leeds.ac.uk

Dr Iyiola Solanke
Senior Lecturer
Anti-discrimination law and social theory, critical race theory, courts and democracy.
Tel: 0113 343 7774
Email: i.solanke@leeds.ac.uk

Professor Hilary Sommerlad
Professor of Law and Social Justice
Sociology of the professions; changing nature of legal services; access to justice/ legal aid and citizenship; social mobility and diversity of the legal profession
Tel: +44 (0) 113 343 9937
Email: h.a.k.sommerlad@leeds.ac.uk 

Nick Taylor
Associate Professor
Legal Education, emerging learning technologies (particularly digital).
Tel: 0113 343 5027
Email: N.W.Taylor@leeds.ac.uk

Dr Mitchell Travis
Lecturer in Law and Social Justice
Law and popular culture; professional legal ethics.
Tel: 0113 343 7112
Email: m.travis@leeds.ac.uk

Dr Chloe Wallace
Associate Professor
Legal education, student mobility and the teaching of foreign law
Tel0113 343 5030
Email: C.J.Wallace@leeds.ac.uk

Dr Emma Wincup
Senior Lecturer; Director of Student Support
Criminal Justice Education, Disability and Student Learning Experiences.
Tel: 0113 343 7453
Email: e.l.wincup@leeds.ac.uk

The Centre draws on a broad engagement from colleagues across the School, with members across all Research Centres supporting the Centre’s activities, participating in projects and engaging in events.

Our research

The following is a list of some of the projects currently being undertaken by colleagues within the Centre:

  • Realising Resilience: An Evidence Based Approach to Embedding Resilience in the CurriculumLydia Bleasdale-Hill (2016-17) Funded by the Institute for Teaching Excellence & Innovation at the University of Leeds, this project is led by Lydia Bleasdale-Hill, who will hold a 0.8 FTE secondment and will be supported by Mrs Sarah Humphreys (Co-ordinator for the School of Law’s Legal Advice Clinics) who will hold a 0.2 FTE secondment to the Institute. The joint fellowship will research the different educational cultures of Schools and Faculties across campus and, using evidence drawn from staff and student interviews, suggest how resilience might be enhanced at curricular and co-curricular levels. This project develops an earlier project on Student Wellbeing supported by Lydia’s 2015 award of a University Student Education Fellowship (£15k)
  • Digital Learning – Resistance and Creativity…: how can methods, such as lecture capture and other digital learning approaches, be utilised to produce more effective, inspirational learning environments; Working closely with the University Centre for Digital Learning, the project team (Nick Taylor, Emma Wincup) are analysing student experiences of utilising lecture capture technologies across Criminology and Law programmes within the School
  • Transition, Progression and Attainment from non-traditional educational pathways: This project (led by Richard Peake) is exploring the processes of transition, progression and attainment of students undertaking BA Criminal Justice & Criminology programmes who have joined the programme from a range of non A-level backgrounds. In developing an evidenced-based understanding of the skills and attributes with which students are equipped from different educational routes, through quantitative and qualitative methods, the project will, in the first instance, enhance student support and curriculum delivery on the Criminology & Criminal Justice programmes. The project also connects with the Outreach and Widening Participation work co-ordinated by the Centre, included the successful Pathways to Law programme, organised by Herabans Kaur.
  • Internationalising the Curriculum and Student Experiences (Chloe Wallace). The project will investigate how students (and staff) experience the education, and particularly assessment methods, across partner universities. It will principally focus on the frameworks of signature pedagogies, but also at ‘hidden curriculum’ issues. The primary case-studies will be drawn from European systems.
  • Lawyers in Society – 30 Years on: In 1988, Rick Abel and Philip Lewis published the seminal three volume collection ‘Lawyers in Society’, which not only set a theoretical framework for the analysis of the legal professions, but provided detailed case-studies in separate volumes on the civil and common law world. Rick Abel, Hilary Sommerlad, Ole Hammerslev and Ulrike Schultz are editing a new three volume collection 30 years from the first publication to take account of the changes in the world’s legal professions in the intervening years. Professors Francis, Loughrey and Sommerlad (with Steven Vaughan of the University of Birmingham) are co-authoring the Country Report for England and Wales which attempts to take account of the legal profession’s response to market change and state intervention and map the principal theoretical implications of these changes and will be presenting a developing draft of the piece at a series of international conferences and network meeting, as part of the wider project, in the next two years. 


Upcoming events

The (Un)Happy Lawyer?: Law Firms, Law Schools and the Political Economy of the Wellbeing Turn in the Legal Profession
30 November 2016, 14:30-16:00 | Seminar | Liberty Building
Professor Richard Collier
Wellbeing, encompassing a broad set of concerns around mental and physical health and ‘what matters to people’, is an idea that has moved centre stage internationally across debates relating to diverse aspects of economic, cultural and political change.

Promoting student resilience; what does the literature tell us?
Annual Student Achievement and Support Conference: Supporting Wellbeing and Good Mental Health in Health Professions Students
1 December 2016 | Conference | Hinsley Hall, Leeds
Lydia Bleasdale-Hill and Sarah Humphreys
This conference focuses on developmental student support, in particular supporting student learning and achievement in the Health Professions Education.

Defining Scholarship - Student Education Conference and Digital Festival 2017
6 January 2017 | Workshop | Leeds Institute of Teaching Excellence and Innovation (LITE)
Lydia Bleasdale-Hill
This workshop will generate focussed discussion on questions relating to the content and form of ‘scholarship’. When and why should it be valued and supported, and in light of that, what dissemination strategies (outputs and impact) follow?

Previous events

Educational Challenges
9 November 2016 | Workshop |

SQE Workshop: Co-organised with Leeds Law Society and involving representatives from the city’s legal profession.
9 November 2016 | Workshop | Leeds Law Society

Student Resilience and the Educational Context
17 November, 2016 | Seminar | Lyddon Terrace SR1 (1.06), House No. 20.
Lydia Bleasdale-Hill & Sarah Humphreys
This seminar considers how the backdrop to an undergraduate student’s life might support or undermine their ability to cope in situations of adversity, specifically in contexts over which the University has some control or influence. We will begin by outlining the authors’ views on the ways in which resilience might be context-specific, before drawing upon the initial stages of research conducted as part of an ongoing LITE year-long Fellowship.

We are not all equal!’: Raising aspiration and achievement by improving the transition from BTEC Studies to Higher Education
26 October 2016, 13:00 | Seminar | Liberty Building | G.33
Dr Richard Peake
In this paper Dr Richard Peake presents preliminary findings from a study of how students from vocational routes of entry struggle with the transition to degree studies and examines five years of data to compare outcomes with the ‘traditional’ A-level students.  The paper suggests why there is a disparity in outcomes and what might be done to improve the situation.

The newly established Centre for Innovation and Research in Legal Education (School of Law) aims to deliver innovative, high quality research and evidence -based practice in education and the professions in criminology, criminal justice and the law, with a core focus on the continued enhancement of the student experience. This year's events will be a mixture of work in progress papers, "Educational Challenges" workshops and prestigious external speakers, including Professor Richard Collier on the 30 November 2016.

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